Oprah's Book Club

Following are the books chosen by Oprah herself for "Oprah's Book Club" on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Whether you're a fan of Oprah herself, it's pretty clear that Oprah (or, at least, Oprah's staff) has excellent taste in books. Not only that, Oprah's not pandering to publishers or popular sentiment — a number of books Oprah chose are not what I'd call easy reading. (Note that Oprah's now offering Oprah's Book Club for Kids)


A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens, edited by Richard Maxwell

Laura Marello says:

I am re-reading A Tale of Two Cities right now. It is the story of different groups of people whose lives are intertwined, set during the time of the French Revolution. It's easy to read and absorbing; the characters are well developed and the plot is interesting. You should really read all of Dickens. Start with the simple ones like Oliver Twist and then read the rest.


Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Dena from New York, NY says:

I like Dickens. Even so, I didn't read "Great Expectations" until I was in grad school — I'd seen the movies, and they all seemed boring and love-storyish. Mawkish, what with Miss Havisham and her house and Pip longing for Estella...

Charles Dickens, how could I have forgotten? That's not what you do at all. "Great Expectations" has a mystery at its heart, and it plows along until all of a sudden you're on page 500 and you've laughed out loud — to Dickens! — on the subway.


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

Laura Stevenson Dumas says:

This book was amazing! At times I had to force myself to put the book down because I didn't want my journey to end. After I finished the book (and stopped sobbing), I desperately tried to find someone else who had read it so I could talk about Edgar and his story. I didn't find anyone but I did pass the book along so I could have someone to talk to in the future. This is a book I will re-read every year or so. It truly touched my heart.


A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

by Eckhart Tolle

Sarah Steinberg from Brooklyn, NY says:

This book changed my life. Having said that, I would only recommend it to someone who is already seeking it out. One of the first things that I learned as a yoga student - some 15 odd years ago - is that there is no benefit in proselytizing. People find the teachers, lessons and practices that they need, when they need them. There is nothing new in this book, but Tolle weaves together eastern philosophy and religion, judeo-christian teachings and psychology in a convincing and extremely accessible manner. I did not stay up late reading this with my flashlight, but I did walk through Central Park for hours on end listening to it on my ipod. It's still on my playlist and I go back to it frequently.


The Pillars of the Earth

by Ken Follett

MCOB from Columbus, OH says:

This book pulled me into the 13th century with ease. Yes, it's almost 1000 pages, and it took me 6 months, but it was so worth it. And it's a book that reaches different generations; after I read it (I'm 28), my dad borrowed it and read it (he's 65, and it took him only weeks!). My only negative is that the end just sort of dropped off, like the author realized it was getting too long.


Love in the Time of Cholera

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Roberta from Greenbelt, MD says:

This is an excellent book that is so detailed. You will fall in love, get sad, laugh, become happy, as you watch this love story unfold. I could only read it in stages because it was that intense! Enjoy!


Middlesex: A Novel

by Jeffrey Eugenides

MCOB from Columbus, OH says:

This is probably one of my favorite books. The three generations worth of family stories was unbelievable. I loved how distance the oldest generation was in Greece and how familiar the second generation in Detroit was. And I really enjoyed how the book starts out in Greece to tell this love story between two siblings (as unappealing as that sounds, it wasn't). And I loved the descriptions of the riots in Detroit. And then to finish it off by really focusing on the main character, a hermaphrodite, working in San Francisco’s Haight. It was so interesting.

This book also appears on Simeon Stolzberg's Favorite Books


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Laura H. from Brooklyn, NY says:

Wow, this one was a doozie. It had been a while since I teared up in a book, but this did it to me. "The Road" takes place after some unknown apocalypse and tells the story of a father and son simply trying to survive. It’s not clear what happened or for how long they have been in this world of desolation, but that not the most important aspect of the story. The real story is one of survival and the length of time that love and hope will keep you alive. It makes the reader question their values while at the same time asking them to decide who and what holds the most importance in their lives. McCarthy’s style of writing is short, often deleting un/necessary apostrophes, but being involved in the story makes the difficult syntax disappear. I started out this book thinking that it would simply be a long tale of desperation and I’m glad that changed.



by Elie Wiesel

Casey Hicks from Wheeling, West Virginia says:

Night is haunting in its simplicity. Such a little book delves into one of the greatest human tragedies in modern history, the Holocaust, but through the eyes of a young boy. I knew this book was an autobiography when I began reading it, but there were still times that I worried Weisel wouldn't make it. Children and adults could benefit from this powerful reminder of the damage humans can do to each other — and what hope can make us survive.


A Million Little Pieces

by James Frey

Denise Fawcett Facey says:

Lost amidst the controversy over the exaggerations in this book was the fact that it is essentially a true and gripping tale. James Frey’s account of his descent into drug addiction and its consequent effects on his life is a redemptive story that provides insight into a world that most readers (including myself) know nothing about. I find it fascinating.


The Good Earth

by Pearl S. Buck

Heather Piper says:

When we read this book in our book group, I was wary at first 'til I got into the story. The characters were real and they hop off the page. I feel as though I have a better handle on the Chinese culture; why they are so vigilant and why they seem to keep going no matter what stands in front of them. I also got a better understanding of the political system in China, as the family was experiencing it. This book is worth the read. A classic.


Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Larissa Volokhonsky, Alexandre Dumas

Camille Rodriguez says:

Simply: beautiful. It deals with the life of the wealthy and the humble, the wanting and the content, the charming and the simple. It has ugliness, beauty, love, hate, family, ruin. It's pretty long, but it has a lot of twists and turns, and the characters you'll meet are unforgettable. Awesome read :)

This book also appears on What New Yorkers Read on the Subway


The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

by Carson McCullers

Gluonsrule says:

Regardless of whether or not it's on Oprah's book club list (and if that's your benchmark, stop reading) this book is an interesting look into the world of a deaf mute man,who on the surface seems to be unassuming and kind. As the story progresses you learn much more about him and his relationship with the young woman he 'befriends'. It was made into a film w/Alan Arkin playing the lead and Sondra Locke as the female protagonist. Read the book, rent the film.

This book also appears on Books That'll Make You Cry Like a Baby


One Hundred Years of Solitude

by Gregory Rabassa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Rosa says:

One of the most beautifully written and eloquent novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Marquez's "magical realism" can be found on almost every single page in this book and his unique manner of storytelling captivated me and kept me begging for more.


Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

Elana Bowman says:

A 2003 book about South African history and its people, which is still relevant and informative today. It's beautifully descriptive and filled with sentiment and authenticity.


East of Eden

by John Steinbeck

Rita Jane from Parkersburg, WV says:

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, is the story of Cain and Abel set to men we can actually visualize. It tells the story of two families: the Trask family and the Hamiltons. The Trasks play out the story of Cain and Abel in every generation. The Hamiltons are based on the real life author's maternal family. Over the course of the years, the Hamiltons guide the Trasks into asking themselves if their family could ever triumph over sin.



by Toni Morrison

Denise Fawcett Facey says:

In this sequel to The Bluest Eye, Sula, as an adult, has eschewed the conventional roles of wife and mother to pursue what those in her hometown perceive as a decadent "big city" life. Her choices — and, indeed, her very presence — come under scathing scrutiny upon her return to her hometown. In typical Toni Morrison fashion, this book is gritty,and for fans of this genre, enthralling.


Fall On Your Knees

by Ann-Marie MacDonald

The hard, gritty life of the Cape Breton coal mines sets the tone for this novel, which grabs the reader from the first page and takes them on a bruising, enthralling story that holds secrets and revelations from beginning to end.

This book also appears on 10 Canadian Fiction Favorites


A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry

Chrisbookarama from Canada says:

This is an incredibly sad yet touching book. It's difficult to read the terrible things that happen to the characters. However, the characters, who are mostly strangers to each other, care for one another during hard times. It's a must-read.


The Corrections

by Jonathan Franzen

barbara Roth says:

This is a wonderful — if sometimes bleak — saga of an American family from the viewpoint of various different family members. Witty, compassionate, and thought-provoking, this is a great book for discussions.


Cane River

by Lalita Tademy

Kathie Pettigrew says:

The deep South comes alive though the experiences and emotions of this multi-generational family. Based in historical fact, this is a beautifully written story about strength and sharing the sorrows and joys of life, beginning in slavery, surviving the Civil War and moving into the 20th Century. A very impressive first novel.


Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

by Malika Oufkir

Cheryll Martin from Christchurch, New Zealand says:

Very powerful story! It made me feel very sad that I was living a life of fun, innocence, etc safely in my corner of the world, while this family was being subjected to this treatment because of who their father was, the job that he did, and what he believed in.

Even sadder that this was around the 1980's. I could not believe that some humans would still treat others this way or even think that they could. Well worth the read!


Icy Sparks

by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Bev a.k.a. "Hockeygal4ever" from Erie, PA says:

An amazing story of a child that goes through life without ever truly fitting in until she finds what her "problem" really is. She grows up with loving grandparents who tell her she's "special" all the time, in a good way; but the way her school mates tease her makes her realize she's "special" in a very different way. You will struggle with her as she tries to figure out her life and in the end, sees the real truth behind living with her "special" needs issues. Heart touching, gut wrenching and simply an outstanding book!


We Were the Mulvaneys

by Joyce Carol Oates

Bert Savarese from Long Beach, MS says:

First, Joyce Carol Oates is a fabulous writer; have to say that up front! This book weaves a story around a family, the Mulvaneys, and the dynamics between the trauma suffered by the daughter and how it affects each member. I found myself horrified by the father, then slowly coming to understand who he was and why his reaction was such. It's the see-saw of a young girl growing up where facing reality and her father's response (and non-response) to her intimate trauma. The family, individually, is so affected by what has happened that it slowly rips apart, one person at a time. This story felt so true to life, almost as if I were reading about someone I knew or heard about. This is classic excellent story telling of Joyce Carol Oates. I loved the story so much that when it was released as a movie for TV, I wanted to see if they were able to capture the interior of this family as well as Oates' writing. They did... but reading the emotions of each member was far better than just hearing the dialogue. Read the book; it will capture you! And you won't forget the Mulvaneys.


House of Sand and Fog

by Andre Dubus III

Stacy from South Bend, IN says:

When the county mistakenly takes possession of Kathy's house, a series of events are launched that change lives forever. As Kathy fights back, the house is sold and soon she's no longer about to distinguish who the actual enemy is — the county, the new owner, or her own demons. The even cadence of Dubus' prose keeps the plot moving as paths cross and stories intertwine in a story that is compelling and haunting.

This book also appears on Books That'll Make You Cry Like a Baby


The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

Ben Patrick Johnson from Los Angeles, CA says:

I think of this book as the counterpoint to my own If The Rains Don't Cleanse, similarly themed. The books were written around the same time, but Poisonwood came out a decade prior to my own. I like to think that Kingsolver paved the way for me.


While I Was Gone

by Sue Miller

Kaye Mitchell from Austin, Texas says:

This book took me back to my hippie days and the culture of dropping out, then growing up after being slapped in the face by a tragedy. The author finds her way out from her escape, and enters her perfect life, only to be dragged back to the scene of the crime in a way she didn't expect.


The Bluest Eye

by Toni Morrison

Denise Fawcett Facey says:

Intermingle a self-hating definition of beauty with abject poverty and the self-destructive behaviors that can accompany poverty's misery and you have the potent, disturbing brew that comprises this book. As Sula's young black life is heaped with horror and sadness, her mind begins to snap under the weight of these issues. Having read this book long ago, I still recall how profoundly affecting it is.


Daughter of Fortune

by Isabel Allende

Courtney Konopacky from San Ramon, CA says:

For lovers of historical fiction, "Daughter of Fortune" is a must-read. This gripping story of an orphaned girl who ends up traveling far from her native Chile in search of love was hard to put down. The characters are all well developed, interesting, and complex. The story's settings range from Colonial Chile to Gold Rush-era California. A satisfying novel.


Tara Road

by Maeve Binchy

Bev a.k.a. "Hockeygal4ever" from Erie, PA says:

A bit slow going but very good when you delve into it. A wonderful story of a woman who finds herself after years of thinking she was only a reflection of the man she had married. Binchey is always great at writing the best "Irish" books around and this one is no different. While not a top favorite of hers, definitely ranks as a good read amongst friends!


White Oleander

by Janet Fitch

Astrid says:

I had to read this book since I share the name of main character, Astrid. The book is wonderfully written, powerful, sad & strong. It's a very readable book and hard to put down.


The Pilot's Wife

by Anita Shreve

Stacy from South Bend, IN says:

Kathryn thought she knew her husband, Jack, until the day the trans-Atlantic flight he was piloting crashed. As the entire family comes under the critical eye of the media, Kathryn must sort through a reality that she was never prepared to learn. Shreve's characters are real, the friend you would really want to reach out to and offer help. Because of this, the novel draws in the reader. It's a fast-paced read.


The Reader

by Bernhard Schlink

Lizette says:

Beautiful and touching. "When we open ourselves — you yourself to me and I myself to you, when we submerge you into me and I into you, when we vanish into me you and into you I, then am I me and you are you."



by Bret Lott

Denise Fawcett Facey says:

It is not often that a protagonist evokes both empathy and scorn from readers, but then again, Brett Lott is an uncommon writer. Spanning decades and moving from rural Mississippi (and its subtexts of race and class) to California, where culture shock pervades interactions, the author underscores Jewel’s tenacity and willfulness (opposite sides of the same coin?) and the contribution these qualities make to the sorrows and difficulties that stretch her persevering family to its limits. One caveat: the epithets used are raw and characteristic of the times.


Where the Heart Is

by Billie Letts

Ashley from Scranton, PA says:

Nothing like the movie; a great book if you love storytelling. A story of mothers and daughters, the best ones being those you find halfway through life. Letts also weaves in a beautiful love story of two people destined for one another, but circumstances (as usual) get in the way. My first foray into Oprah's Book Club, but not my last.



by Chris Bohjalian

Stefanie says:

Sybil Danforth, successful midwife, is on trial for illegally operating on one of her clients. Sybil says the mother was already dead when she performed the operation to save the baby. The prosecution says otherwise. Narrated by Sybil's daughter, is the trial just another attempt by the medical profession to prosecute midwives? Or, is there something else going on?


What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

by Pearl Cleage

Kiesha says:

This is by far the best book I've ever read. The characters are so rich and real. I found myself trying to become more like Ava in her new approach to life. I'm searching for my Eddie — I want that type of love. This book is an eye-opener.


I Know This Much Is True

by Wally Lamb

David M. says:

Wally Lamb does an excellent job of combining well-written literature and awareness for mental illness. As a social worker who minored in English, Lamb integrates these two subjects well. The characters are so real and yet tragic. This tome (about 900 pages) will keep you hooked as you explore the lives of these characters, while raising awareness for schizophrenia.


Here on Earth

by Alice Hoffman

Rene from Texas says:

I read this book after a string of beach books and immediately thought, "Thank god, there is a good writer somewhere out there." I spent the whole book thinking the main character was sort of an idiot for falling back into a bad relationship, I really enjoyed the imagery and the writing style of the author. I ended up recommending this book for a book club.


Ellen Foster

by Kaye Gibbons

Jan McClintock from Texas says:

Read this book, if for no other reason than to experience life through a young girl's eyes again, however difficult that life may be. The point of view is Ellen's, written first person. The style is Ellen's, too; written as she thinks and speaks instead of the typical cleaned-up narration for reading. This is particularly fascinating in this story of a girl who never gives up hope, is flexible enough to adjust to her circumstances, and knows what she wants. The tone is not maudlin, even through hardship, and her observations about life are poignant and appropriate for her time. This is really a story of resilience. A quick read, with flashbacks and other time-bending devices galore.

This book also appears on Books That'll Make You Cry Like a Baby


Stones from the River

by Ursula Hegi

Elyssa says:

A very interesting book. There are so many novels about the holocaust, but this one tells a story I have never seen represented before. Don't read it if you're already feeling a little blue, though.


She's Come Undone

by Wally Lamb

Lauren McNease says:

Probably my favorite novel of all time.... Wow brings so many emotions to the surface and just a brilliant, beautiful novel which I have read four times- might be time for the fifth very soon...


Song of Solomon

by Toni Morrison

Jorge Borrani from Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico says:

It's a very cool story with a lot of action and it's full of magic-realism... it's like Gabriel Garcia Marquez but with Southern U.S. slaves. It's inspiring and funny and also a little sad.


Deep End of the Ocean

by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Gail says:

This book fascinated me. I read it many years ago but still remember the story. I can't say that for all the books I read. Although it is sad at times (about a missing child), the characters are very realistic and the end is uplifting. As usual, the movie was good but the book was much better.