** Oprah’s Book Club List Updated – 10/24/23**
In 1996, Oprah started choosing her first book club book. Since then, she has chosen 88 books and opened the door for other celebrities to strt their own book clubs. We have Oprah’s Book Club list ranked from our favorites to those we did not enjoy.
But, no matter how we feel about Oprah’s choices, each book has been read by Oprah and chosen specifically. These often become bestsellers because well, she is Oprah. Her books are always deeply emotional and well-written books.
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The October 2023 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
October 2023 Oprah Book Club Pick
Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.
Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.
From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land—the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages. MORE
Oprah’s Book Club List: 5-Star Books
March 2023 Oprah Book Club Pick
I adored this family saga about the four Padavano sisters and the man that enters their family orbit. William Waters grew up in a house with indifferent parents, so he fell head over heels for Julia and then her family.
But William’s inner demons cause a rift between the sisters that shakes the family to its core and dramatically changes the dynamics between all the Padavanos. Told over decades, this story examines the ties that bind us to our family through the ebbs and flows of life.
As one of four children, this coming-of-age story really spoke to me. Napolitano does an incredible job of accurately depicting the individual sibling relationships with one another and the role each person plays within the larger family dynamic. It’s a tall order and a near-impossible challenge to nail the complexities of a big family, but Napolitano does it with aplomb.
It’s going to be one of the best books of 2023 without a doubt. It strikes a balance between creating moments for book club discussion but also being entertaining enough to be a beach read pick. It’s a book about sisters I’ll be recommending to everyone all year.
August 2021 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Wow. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to this year, and yes, I recommend it on audio for a few reasons. We absolutely love this Oprah Book Club Pick
First, the different narrators help tell this dual-timeline contemporary fiction. Through one narrator, we learn about Ailey’s life as an African American woman in the 20th century. The other narrator tells the story of the female ancestors of Ailey’s going all the way back to her Indigenous, black, and white relatives from two centuries earlier.
Through Ailey and her ancestors, the weight of what it means to be a black woman in America means. The sacrifices, injustices, struggles, and harassment endured by Ailey and her kin in the present day and the past are explored with a depth so real, I forgot it was a fictional story at times.
The second reason this book is great on audio? It’s LONG. It clocks in at over 800 pages or almost 30hrs of audiobook time. The narrators sucked me in and those 30 hrs flew by.
I will say, this book made me consider my White Privilege in a way no non-fiction book could have. It’s a heavy story, but very worth the read and a great book for book clubs.
June 2020 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Stop everything and add Hidden Valley Road to your TBR now!! All I can say is wow! This favorite is one of the best books on Mental Illness and an absolutely fascinating non-fiction book.
This is the amazing story of Don and Mimi Galvin whose family paved the way for schizophrenia research over the past 50 years. Of their 12 children- 10 sons and 2 daughters, 6 of the boys have schizophrenia.
The struggles of this family to survive through the age of lobotomies and institutionalization provides a look into the history of this disorder. It’s unbelievable to think how far we’ve come and yet, we are not even close to understanding this disease.
November 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
I am so happy that I finally read this book. Michelle Obama is a brilliant woman who has such an incredible story to tell. I was intrigued listening to her life and her upbringing.
I listened to this book and was so happy to hear the story read by Obama herself. Obama is a brilliant woman and it was a pleasure to hear her story told in her voice. There is something about her voice that is so calming and soothing. This is one of our favorite non-fiction books about women in politics. As nonfiction books for beginners go, this one is a must.
August 2016 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
I absolutely loved this book and it was one of the first reviews we ever did on the blog. I love the way this book examined the underground railroad with a touch of magical realism. If you are looking for thought-provoking books, look no further.
The story is about Cora and Caesar, two run-away slaves in the South who run away to the underground railroad which, in this book, is an actual railroad.
Each stop along the way is reminiscent of a different place in history and it is interlaced with actual ads placed for runaway slaves. This book is profound and beautiful and a must-read.
This book was all the rage in my youth, especially when the movie adaptation came out starting Natalie Portman.
I read this when I was still a teenager, yet I remember connecting with Novalee over her struggles and fight to protect her daughter. Truly a wonderful story about how your family might just be the community you live in.
A Fine Balance is an epic and heartbreaking saga of life in India. It’s a story of love and friendship in an unnamed city in 1975.
Lovers come together and are ripped apart in this memorable book. I read this book years before it was an Oprah Book Club pick but it is not a book that is easy to forget. It is heart-wrenching in every way.
For the record, I read this book BEFORE Oprah picked it! We spent a semester learning about this family saga during my Senior Year. Each person was assigned a symbol to report on throughout the book each week.
Mine was goldfish -part of the symbolism of amnesia and the duality between amnesia and nostalgia. Yep. I still remember the lesson. Maybe is was the teaching that contributed but, this remains one of my favorite books ever. This is a perfect example of a literary fiction book that is also a magical realism book.
I have a personal story about this book. My husband’s grandmother grew up in the same town as Elie Weisel. She knew both him and his wife. This was the first thing that she told me when I met her (My husband’s name is also Elie but this is purely coincidental).
This is a must-read non-fiction book about the Holocaust written by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It is short but very powerful.
I read this book more than 20 years ago and I still feel emotional about this book. I have not re-read it to see if it has withstood the test of time but I have no doubt that it has.
This is a story of identical twin brothers one of whom is a paranoid schizophrenic. When he shockingly mutilates himself, his brother must become his caretaker. It is powerful and heartbreaking.
Four Star Books from Oprah’s Book Club List
April 2022 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Viola Davis’s life story had me entranced as I learned what she needed to overcome during her childhood, college, and her early career to become the powerhouse she is today.
Her thoughts on life in Hollywood were enlightening. Her deep love for her family and her roots shone through. And her story made it very clear that she takes nothing for granted.
Viola worked damn hard to be successful and she deserves every accolade she’s received and more. Her narration even earned her an Audie Awards 2023 nomination.
January 2020 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
The story starts with Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca as they hide from the cartel who are massacring their entire extended family. The opening is heart pounding and the jolt it gives to your heart never lets up.
Lydia and Luca then have to make the perilous journey North as migrants. What they go through as they try to outrun the cartel is devastating, thought-provoking, and scary. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I never knew that a scene about putting a bandaid on a blister could be so suspenseful. I don’t want to tell any details because this story is about the unfolding of real-time events and the backstory that lead to the massacre.
My heart did not stop pounding the entire time I read this book. I know that there is a lot of controversy surrounding this book. However, I read this book for what it was- a work of fiction rather than non-fiction.
June 2017 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
This story was recommended to me so often in the past few years – and its an Oprah Book Club pick so I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. My library hold finally came due and I finally took the plunge. WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?
Honestly, I love this story about immigration, Wall Street, and the American dream. At a time when election coverage is ramping up, this book seems so relevant. Jeni and Nedi’s story about their move from Cameroon and how it affects their marriage and their morals was compulsively readable. I
couldn’t put it down. Don’t wait as long as I did. Read it!
And you can check out our list of Best Books for Book Clubs with 52 amazing picks.
January 2014 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
I picked this book up in Charleston when I was there for a visit in October of 2018. I wanted to pick up a book about the city. When I found out that our hotel was next to the Grimke sister’s home, I knew this was the book for me.
This book tells the story of Sarah Grimke, one of the first female abolitionists, and her slave, Handful. It was also my pick for our January reading challenge.
3.5 star Books from Oprah’s Book Club List
September 2021 Oprah Book Club Pick
This book is a sci-fi fantasy-like book that explores brain treatments to correct behaviors in a child with suspected Autism.
Robin is a sweet child who feels deeply and can have big mood swings, but when a treatment if offered to help him sync his brain to that of his dead mother’s, he jumps at the change.
As the experiment gains momentum and Robin’s behavior changes, his dad Theo is left wondering about the potential consequences.
This Oprah book club pick explores the parent-child bond, the growing climate crisis, and autism in a way that will have you thinking about it for months to come.
I read this book when its as first published in 2002. Needless to say, I needed to remind myself of some of the plot details but, the emotions in this book remain.
This book is a multigenerational saga that deals with the effect of trauma. This book will bring you to your knees.
This is another book from Oprah’s original book club that is stayed with me over the years. This is the story of one family’s three decades in the Congo.
Oprah chooses books that are emotional and well written.
I often do not like books in which the email main character is written by a man. Wally Lamb does this with ease in this funny and poignant coming-of-age story.
Oprah’s Book Club List: Three Star Books
February 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
I can see why there are so many people that loved this book. I liked it but from the very beginning there were so many things that made me anxious while reading this book. Some were for the right reasons (I knew he would be wrongly convicted) and some were for the wrong reasons like the cavalier way Roy talked about his marriage.
The book is well-written and delves into the complexities of love, marriage, and relationships.
I read this book and enjoyed it but there was something about the book that did not seem authentic. I loved the idea of the book and I actually really liked the movie. There was something about the book that made it “good” but not great for me.
Two Star Books From Oprah’s Book Club List
I know that this book is a great American Classic. But, that does not change my opinion of this book. It is one of the few books I have started to read that I did not finish.
The writing is amazing. It is John Steinbeck but, I could not get into this book. No matter how many times I tried to read this book, I could never fully immerse myself in the story.