If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission.
On September 1996, Oprah Winfrey began her now-famous book club, Oprah’s Book Club. Over time, what began as just a segment of her daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, became a phenomenon, with readers clamoring to get their hands on her latest pick. By the time the show had left the air, Oprah had recommended a whopping total of 70 titles. And now, the recommendations have only continued. Most recently, Winfrey celebrated her historic 100th book selection.
“It was over 26 years ago that I started Oprah’s Book Club because I wanted to get the whole country reading and connecting over what I thought were great stories,” she explained in a recent Instagram post. “I wasn’t sure at the time that the idea would even kind of work, but he we are, we’ve read 99 books together and so today it is my great pleasure to announce my 100th Book Club selection.”
From candid celebrity memoirs to heart-wrenching fiction and captivating non-fiction books alike, Winfrey’s recommendations over the years have it all. So, in honor of her major 100-book milestone, we’ve compiled a list of the most highly-rated books she’s ever picked. And though we’d love to read and rate them all ourselves, we used GoodReads to determine all the best ones – all the scores above 4.2 out of 5 were added. Check out some of the incredible titles below!
‘Hello Beautiful’ by Ann Napolitano
Hello Beautiful, by author Ann Napolitano, was Winfrey’s most recent selection. “Inspired, kind of an homage to Little Women, it follows a family of four sisters over three decades only it’s set in modern times in a city that’s so close to me, Chicago,” Winfrey said in the announcement. “The family’s bonds are tested when there’s a rift between the sisters and it changes their relationship forever. There’s drama, there’s love, there’s grief – and I urge you just to get a copy of this extraordinarily moving book.”
‘Demon Copperhead’ by Barbara Kingsolver
Demon Copperhead, written by Barbara Kingsolver, was published in October of 2022. “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,” Winfrey said of the book. “The novel speaks to so many of our country’s relevant issues, but most importantly, it’s absolutely riveting.”
‘Finding Me’ by Viola Davis
Finding Me, by EGOT winner Viola Davis, is both highly-rated and highly recommended. “There are so many lessons to be learned from this breathtaking memoir about triumphing over adversity and trauma,” Winfrey said of the memoir. “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. I was so moved by this book that I just had to share it with our entire OBC audience.”
‘The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois’ by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers tells the story of African-American history and the Black family experience through the lens of a young girl. “This novel will resonate with anyone who has a family, who is a daughter or a sister or a mother, and anyone interested in the American origin story,” Winfrey said.
‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ 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,” Winfrey said of Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. “It explains why we are where we are in terms of racial injustice and inequality, and it shows us how to rebuild a world in which all are truly equal and free.”
‘The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row’ by Anthony Ray Hinton, with Lara Love Hardin
The 2018 book The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton, with Lara Love Hardin, tells the story of Hinton, a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985 and then sentenced to death. In the years he remained on death row, “he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row,” the official description reads. “He is a remarkable storyteller,” Winfrey said of the book. “You will be swept away into this unbelievable, dramatic true story.”
‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel
Night, written by Nobel Prize winner, Holocaust survivor, and author Elie Wiesel, recounts the horrors he witnessed as a teenager in a German concentration camp. “[Night] should be required reading for all humanity,” Winfrey said when announcing the selection.
‘The Heart of a Woman’ by Maya Angelou
In 1997, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou released her autobiography, The Heart of a Woman. This book, which follows Angelou’s move to New York from California with her son, Guy, also perfectly illustrates the influential community of Black artists around her at the time.
‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama
“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address,” the official synopsis of Becoming, by Michelle Obama, reads.
“The book is tender, it is compelling, it is powerful, it is raw,” Winfrey noted when annoucing Becoming as her pick.
‘I Know This Much Is True’ by Wally Lamb
“It’s not just a book, it’s a life experience,” Winfrey said of Wally Lamb’s novel I Know This Much Is True. “Set against the vivid panoply of twentieth-century America and filled with richly drawn, memorable characters, this deeply moving and thoroughly satisfying novel brings to light humanity’s deepest needs and fears, our aloneness, our desire for love and acceptance, our struggle to survive at all costs.”
‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry
“The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future,” reads the official synopsis of A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry.
‘East of Eden’ by John Steinbeck
Calling it “the perfect summer read,” Winfrey recommended East of Eden by John Steinbeck in 2003. “A novel so rich and full of drama you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough!” she continued. The novel, per the official synopsis, follows the “intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.”
‘The Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett
“This historical epic—a twelfth-century tale of the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral—stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity,” the official synopsis reads. For Winfrey, the novel changed her perspective. “It made me think about my own life differently, reading that book, the experience of reading that book,” she said. “What a treasure.”
‘The Invention of Wings’ by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a “powerful story about the relationship between Sarah Grimké and her household slave, Hetty.” “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,” Winfrey said of the novel.
‘That Bird Has My Wings’ by Jarvis Jay Masters
“Years ago, I was given a memoir by Jarvis Jay Masters,” Winfrey said as she announced That Bird Has My Wings. “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.”
Leave a Comment