The Complete Oprah’s Book Club List

Oprah's reading list is one of our favorite things.

oprah book club list

Since its beginnings in 1996, Oprah’s Book Club has become the go-to source for your next best read. More than a television mogul, Oprah is now one of our most influential literary tastemakers, launching author careers and skyrocketing books to the top of the bestseller lists. For more than two decades, the Oprah book club list has introduced dozens of titles to our bookshelves, reigniting a passion for reading and sometimes inciting more than a little bit of controversy with her choices.

Of course we love Oprah for all the unforgettable TV moments (couch-jumping Tom Cruise, anyone?)—but it’s her advocacy for diverse, unheard stories that we love most. And with the recent choice to bring back her beloved book club to the small screen with Apple TV+, there's never been a better time to dive back into her past picks.  

If you love Oprah and want to dig through all of her book recommendations, you may be wondering the best place to start. We’ve categorized all of Oprah’s Book Club picks to make it easy. There’s something for every reader on the list. Which means…You get a book, you get a book, everyone gets a book!

This list was updated on 06/28/24, with the addition of Familiaris by David Wroblewski. The follow-up to the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling modern classic The Story of Edgar Sawtelle—another Oprah's Book Club pick—, Familiaris is the stirring origin story of the Sawtelle family and the remarkable dogs that carry the Sawtelle name.

If you need some perspective on your own family drama.

From multigenerational sagas to African American life in the South, these books explore the enduring effects of our actions on the ones we love and, like these books about dysfunctional families, remind you that your quarrelsome holiday dinners aren’t that bad.

Long Island, by Colm Tóibín

A beautiful story “about a woman thrashing against the constraints of fate” (Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air).

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue

"Underneath it all pumps the heart and soul of family love, the pursuit of happiness, and what home really means." —Oprah Winfrey

While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller

“A spellbinding novel of love and betrayal that explores what it means to be a good wife.” —

River, Cross My Heart, by Breena Clarke

“Resonates with ideas, impassioned lyricism, and poignant historical detail as it captures an essential part of the African-American experience in our century.” —

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I promise it will grab you from the first sentence.” —Oprah Winfrey

A Map of the World, by Jane Hamilton

A bestselling “maze of guilt and doubt culminating in… [a] family’s shattering downfall.” —

Drowning Ruth, by Christina Schwarz

“Love, loss, guilt, lies…Hauntingly narrated and grippingly paced” —

We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates

“I read this book over a year ago, but this family still haunts me.” —Oprah Winfrey

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

“This book is a masterpiece. It’s an epic family saga—it’s got everything—sex and love, even rock n’ roll.” —Oprah Winfrey

Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian

“Consistently engages, moves, and challenges our ways of thinking.” —

Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald

“Many times during the reading of Fall on Your Knees, I would say, ‘How can that be happening now?’ And then I’d say, ‘It’s a book. It’s a book. It’s a book.’” —Oprah Winfrey

I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb

“It’s not just a book, it’s a life experience.” —Oprah Winfrey

Hello Beautiful, by Ann Napolitano 

“I’m telling you, once you start, you won’t want it to end…and be prepared for tears.”  —Oprah Winfrey

oprahs book club list author Ayana Mathis with Oprah

If you’re fascinated by the power of unconditional love.

Nothing is stronger than the bond between a parent and their child, but the intensity of that relationship often manifests in a variety of ways. The below books portray parent-child love in all its complex and heartrending glory.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis

“This book was so astonishing, it left me speechless.” —Oprah Winfrey

Songs in Ordinary Time, by Mary McGarry Morris

“[A] masterful epic of the everyday, illuminating the kaleidoscope of lives that tell the compelling story of this unforgettable family.” —

Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen

“[A] beautifully written, heart-stopping story.” —

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

“It’s unlike any book I have chosen.” —Oprah Winfrey

Jewel, by Bret Lott

“[D]efines the intensity of a mother-child relationship and the depth of family love.” —

The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Deep End of the Ocean will make you catch your breath. It will make you thankful. It will make you think. It will make you feel.” —Oprah Winfrey

oprah's book club list pick author cyntha bond, with oprah

If you’re looking for an unconventional love story.

While these novels aren’t your classic romance books, they are profoundly beautiful, just like these dreamy love poems. Each one sheds light on the power of love: how it can redeem and condemn us, hurt and heal us—and drive us to do things we never imagined.

Wellness, by Nathan Hill

"You're about to be taken for an incredible ride" —Oprah Winfrey

Bewilderment, by Richard Powers

The love between a father and his son grounds this powerful novel about the ways we're all connected to one another—and to the planet we call home.

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones 

“The novel redefines the traditional American love story—it’s really a love triangle—and places it inside a world that a lot of people don’t know about, but impacts all of us in really big ways.” —Oprah Winfrey

Ruby, by Cynthia Bond

“I have never read a book like this before. To say that it is deep or profound—it doesn’t even really begin to describe it.” —Oprah Winfrey

A Virtuous Woman, by Kaye Gibbons

“Weaving this strong, tightly knit love story in alternating chapters, the two richly cadenced Southern voices explore their vastly differing backgrounds, troubled histories, and their unlikely but loving marriage.” —

The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink

“A parable of German guilt and atonement and a love story of stunning power.” —

Gap Creek, by Robert Morgan

“At turns poetic and gritty…A must for fans of Cold Mountain.” —

Open House, by Elizabeth Berg

“A love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.” —

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“This is one of the greatest love stories I have ever read.” —Oprah Winfrey

oprah's book club list author Jonathan Franzen with Oprah

If you’re interested in how we’re shaped by our pasts.

What is it about going home that rips open old wounds? As the characters in these Oprah picks can attest, confronting our ghosts can be painful—but it can also lead to personal growth and new possibilities.

The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen

“[A] comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious and deeply humane.” —

Here on Earth, by Alice Hoffman

“The dramatic and lyrical accounting of the joys of love, as well as the destruction love can release.” —

Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat

“[B]ears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.” —

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, by Pearl Cleage

“[A]fter more than a decade of elegant pleasures and luxe living, Ava has come home, her fabulous career and power plans smashed to bits on one dark truth… Ava Johnson has tested positive for HIV.” —

A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines

“[S]ometimes simply choosing to resist the expected is an act of heroism.” —

The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve

“[Kathryn] faces shocking revelations about the secrets a man can keep and the actions a woman is willing to take.” —

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

"I was so enraptured by the story of this modern Black family, and how author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers wove the larger fabric of historical trauma through the family's silence through generations,"—Oprah Winfrey

carson mccullers, an oprah's book club author
  • camera-icon
  • Photo Credit: Library of Congress

If you like touching stories about friendships and community.  

Friendships can be found in the most unlikely places, and the way they evolve can be surprising too. These books explore the families we choose, and how our friends—beyond offering their support—can give us a greater knowledge of ourselves.

Familiaris, by David Wroblewski

“By taking us back to the origins of the Sawtelle family, Wroblewski has set a storytelling bonfire as enthralling in its pages as it is illuminating of our fragile and complicated humanity. Familiaris is as expansive and enlightening a saga as has ever been written.” —Tom Hanks

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers

“I love this book! … It’s a great, great read.” —Oprah Winfrey

Mother of Pearl, by Melinda Haynes

In 1999 Oprah asked Haynes, “What is this book about?” to which Haynes replies, “It’s about finding self.” —

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry

“I’ve never encountered pages that took me so far, and removed me from my own way of life and way of thinking the way A Fine Balance did.” —Oprah Winfrey

Sula, by Toni Morrison

“Her stories are fiction, but nowhere will you find greater truths about life. She laid the foundation of my love for reading…” —Oprah Winfrey

Tara Road, by Maeve Binchy

“Having learned a great deal, about themselves and about each other…[two women] find that they have become, firmly and forever, good friends.” —

Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts

“It will make you believe in the strength of friendship, the goodness of down-to-earth people, and the healing power of love.” —

Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout

This Pulitzer Prize-winning follow up to Olive Kittredge was chosen because Oprah fell in love with the character "despite her flaws." — 

oprah book club list author sue monk kidd with oprah

If you’re a champion for the underdog (or know what it means to overcome).

These characters pursue their dreams of success and freedom amidst the oppression imposed by their sex, race, religion, or social class.

Let Us Descend, Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend is the literary equivalent of an open wound from which poetry pours.” —NPR

The Bird That Has My Wings, by Jarvis Jay Masters

"His story, of a young boy victimized by addiction, poverty, violence, the foster care system and later the justice system, profoundly touched me then, and still does today." —Oprah Winfrey

Nightcrawling, by Leila Mottley

"It always brings me joy to help introduce new writers to the reading community, and this young poet wowed me with her ode and elegy to Oakland, and her acute and insightful depictions of youth, injustice, the legacy of incarceration, and the resilience of community and chosen family." —Oprah Winfrey

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

“It is impossible to read this book and not come away thinking differently about our status as women and about all the unsung heroines who play a role in getting us to where we are.” —Oprah Winfrey

Paradise, by Toni Morrison

“Richly imagined and elegantly composed.” —

Cane River, by Lalita Tademy

“I think what [Lalita was] able to do with this story is open the door for a lot of people who want to trace their own roots or look at what their heritage, what that legacy has meant for them.” —Oprah Winfrey

Vinegar Hill, by A. Manette Ansay

In a strictly religious Midwestern town, a woman “begins to consider her own desires and dreams as well.” —

The Rapture of Canaan, by Sheri Reynolds

One young woman must “face with sudden clarity the things she must do for the sake of her own life, and her child’s,” in her “isolated southern religious community.” —

House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III

“[A] devastating exploration of the American Dream gone awry.” —

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

Though this book's success immediately drew controversy from critics, Oprah "was in from the very first sentence of the book." As she explains it, "I thought this humanized that migration process in a way that nothing else I'd ever felt or seen had."

oprah book club list author toni morrison with oprah

If you’re a fan of young heroes and heroines, like Scout Finch and Holden Caulfield.

Mixing honesty with humor, these coming-of-age tales follow young men and women as they come to terms with the unpredictable world they live in—and find their place within it.

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver

"This is the second time I've chosen one of Barbara Kingsolver's novels for my book club—22 years ago we named The Poisonwood Bible as a selection. Her latest book grabbed me from its opening lines. I so admire the way Barbara has taken the plight of a young boy and invited us on his journey through loss, the foster system, addiction and so much more."

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

“I say with certainty there would have been no Oprah’s Book Club if this woman had chosen not to share her love of words with the world.” —Oprah Winfrey

The Book of Ruth, by Jame Hamilton

“Told from the perspective of a simple, naive woman—in describing the events of her life, [Ruth] reveals perhaps more about herself than she is aware.” —

Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons

“Against all odds, Ellen never gives up her belief that there is a place for her in the world, a home which will satisfy all her longing for love, acceptance, and order.” —

Back Roads, by Tawni O’Dell

“Heartbreaking and at times humorous…sure to mesmerize readers.” —

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski

“It’s so engaging, so gripping, so epic…I think that this is right up there with the greatest American novels ever written.” —Oprah Winfrey

White Oleander, by Janet Fitch

“Page after page, I fell in love with a story that deeply moved me.” —Oprah Winfrey

The Meanest Thing to Say, by Bill Cosby

“This book shows your child that there are ways to resolve conflicts with other children without losing face or resorting to violence.” —

The Treasure Hunt, by Bill Cosby

“It is gratifying to watch a child’s sense of pride grow by leaps and bounds as he gains a sense of mastery using new skills…Keep on, Little Bill!” —

The Best Way to Play, by Bill Cosby

“[T]he rewards of children’s active, creative play last a lifetime. The Best Way to Play offers your child an example of great way to have fun—using TV instead of being used by it.” —

If you aren’t afraid to shout out what makes you unique, OPRAAAAAAH!-style.

With their insight on mental health, physical illness, and racial prejudice, these stories question our common perceptions of normalcy and beauty.

She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

“Makes us laugh and wince with recognition and reminds us that despite the pain we endure and cause, we must find the courage to love again.” —

Stones from the River, by Ursula Hegi

“A story of secrets, parceled out masterfully by Trudi — and by Ursula Hegi — as they reveal the truth about living through unspeakable times.” —

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

“With its vivid evocation of the feat and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment, The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrison’s most powerful, unforgettable novels.” —

Icy Sparks, by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

“A fresh, original, and completely redeeming novel about learning to overcome others’ ignorance and celebrate the differences that make each of us unique.” —

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

"Marilynne Robinson is one of our greatest living authors," Oprah comments, "and in the Gilead novels she's written a quartet of masterpieces. The more closely I read them, the more I find to appreciate, and the more they show the way in seeing the beauty in the ordinary."

oprah book club list author maya angelou with oprah

If you’re looking for a dose of real-life inspiration.

Oprah may be a role model to millions of people, but have you ever wondered who’s inspired her own Aha! moments? Here are her non-fiction favorites (including one that caused quite a stir 2006), which have impacted her perspective of the world and life.

The Many Lives of Mama Love: A Memoir of Lying, Stealing, Writing, and Healing, by Lara Love Hardin

“Once you start reading, be prepared, because you won’t want to stop.” —Oprah Winfrey

Finding Me, by Viola Davis

"There are so many lessons to be learned from this breathtaking memoir about triumphing over adversity and trauma. Viola Davis leaves it all on the page—from her beginnings in South Carolina as the fifth of six children born in a sharecropper's shack to acclaim as an actor, producer and philanthropist." —Oprah Winfrey

The Way of Integrity, by Martha Beck

"For over 15 years, I have looked to Martha Beck for her wisdom, and marveled at how she helps people through crises in their lives with such grace, insight and humor." —Oprah Winfrey

Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson

“Of all the books I’ve chosen for book club over the decades, there isn’t another that is more essential a read than this one. It explains why we are where we are in terms of racial injustice and inequality." —Oprah Winfrey

Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker 

"A riveting true story of an American family that reads like a medical detective journey. It reveals the shame, denial, shock, confusion and misunderstanding of mental illness at a time when no one was really sure what schizophrenia was or how to treat it.” —Oprah Winfrey

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

“It is Michelle Obama's personal story, of course, but I believe it's going to spark within you the desire to think about your own becoming.” —Oprah Winfrey

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton 

“He is a remarkable storyteller...You will be swept away into this unbelievable, dramatic true story.” —Oprah Winfrey

The Heart of a Woman, by Maya Angelou

“She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace.” —Oprah Winfrey

Night, by Elie Wiesel

“Required reading for all of humanity.” —Oprah Winfrey

A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey

Possibly one of the greatest controversies in Oprah history, Frey’s memoir was discovered to be more fantasy than fact. 

The Measure of a Man, by Sidney Poitier

“It’s a beautifully crafted book, written like poetry.” —Oprah Winfrey

A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle

“One of the most important subjects…of our time…I don’t think there’s anything more important than awakening and also knowing what your purpose is.” —Oprah Winfrey

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

“Here’s what I got from reading and meeting Cheryl Strayed: No matter where you are in your climb in life, no matter what you’re doing, you have to keep getting yourself up every day.” —Oprah Winfrey

Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

“I read it as a testament to the power of vulnerability. Through it, Glennon shows us the clearest meaning of ‘To thine own self be true.’” —Oprah Winfrey

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail, by Malika Oufkir

“People read the book and they are changed by it—enlightened by it—opened up by it.” —Oprah Winfrey

Bittersweet, by Susan Cain

"This book has the power to transform the way you see your life and even the world, I have started to look at my own life in the world differently.” —Oprah Winfrey

colson whitehead, an oprah's book club author

If you want to learn about a time, place, or people different from your own.

Oprah likes books that open her eyes to new cultures, experiences, and ideas. The following titles expose the hardships of foreign worlds (real or imagined) while giving voice to the people who often go unheard.

The Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese

“One of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. It’s epic. It’s transportive . . . It was unputdownable!” — Oprah Winfrey

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

“Every now and then a book comes along that reaches the marrow of your bones, settles in, and stays forever. This is one.” —Oprah Winfrey

Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende

“[A] rich and spirited historical novel.” —

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

“[T]he clash of cultures, the attainment of self awareness, the struggle to overcome stifling conventions, the preservation of heritage…resound in this ambitious and towering indictment of imperialism and unchecked cultural arrogance.” —

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

“It made me think about my own life differently, reading that book, the experience of reading that book. What a treasure.” —Oprah Winfrey

Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan

“[M]asterfully both captures the innocence and the horror of the unimaginable events these children witness.” —Oprah Winfrey

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

“[C]aptures the very essence of South Africa in transition from a rural, tribal nation of spiritual heritage to a modern country of big cities, violence and upheaval.” —Oprah Winfrey

The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

"I have not felt a way about this book since Beloved. I knew early on the book was going to cut me up. I ended up with my soul pierced." —Oprah Winfrey

Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
"In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief, Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs." —Oprah Winfrey

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

Set in the era that ushered in Reconstruction and Jim Crow, this novel spotlights some of the parallels with our current times and powerfully shows how a fellow human's single act of kindness or cruelty can reverberate for generations to come. —

If you’re ready to “finally see what all the fuss is about.”

Whether they’re collecting dust on your bookshelf or you’ve read their plot summaries on Wikipedia, Oprah is here to tell you that these timeless classics are far from snooze-fests.

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

“The novel’s sense of urgency and intimacy will draw you in and propel you through one of the most tumultuous times in history.” —

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

It’s the perfect summer read…a novel so rich and full of drama you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough!” —Oprah Winfrey

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“As steamy, dense and sensual as the jungle that surrounds the surreal town of Macondo!” —Oprah Winfrey

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

“Tolstoy weaves an extravagant web.” —

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck

“[Buck’s words] evoke the simple beauty of the characters and the harsh mystery of China’s ancient culture.” —

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

A “dark and heartrending tale.”  —

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

“Considered [William Faulkner’s] first work of genius.” —

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

“An unforgettable tale of fate and a chance encounter between two strangers that radically and arbitrarily alters the lives of everyone around them.” —

Light in August, by William Faulkner

“One of Faulkner’s masterpieces.” —

Want more celebrity book club picks? Check out Reese's book club list

Related: 25 Thoughtful Book Club Questions for Any Novel 

Featured photo of Oprah Winfrey courtesy of Alchetron