The Complete List of Books Chosen for Oprah's Book Club

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Oprah's Book Club is a cultural force. Books that might otherwise be overlooked by the general public catapult onto the bestseller lists after being selected. The so-called "Oprah Effect" is estimated to have sold more than 60 million copies of the Book Club's selections, and it's made several authors into household names.

Choosing "Great" Books

It goes without saying that authors would cheerfully kill to have their books make the list, but don't bother submitting one for consideration. Oprah Winfrey is personally and solely in charge of selecting her Book Club's books, and her decisions are reportedly based on what she likes and what has moved her. Her producers nonetheless receive literally hundreds upon hundreds of books and manuscripts every week as writers beg for consideration. It's said that she doesn't comb through them looking for one that strikes her fancy. Rather, she reads something and thinks, "This is great" and includes the work. 

Oprah's Book Club has been credited with reviving a culture of literary discussion, and it represents one of the most lasting legacies from the original "Oprah Winfrey Show". The original book club took a hiatus for a period of time when "The Oprah Winfrey Show" went off the air, then it was revived as Oprah's Book Club 2.0 in 2012 and is now based on Winfrey's OWN network.

Oprah's Original Book Club Picks

The original book club kicked off on September 17, 1996. Its recommended books are grouped by year for ease of selection. A number of the books are not new but would be considered classics. Some years, only one book was chosen, while in other years, the club recommended nearly a dozen books.


  • "The Book of Ruth" by Jane Hamilton
  • "Song of Solomon" by Toni Morrison
  • "The Deep End of the Ocean" by Jacquelyn Mitchard


  • "The Meanest Thing to Say" by Bill Cosby
  • "The Treasure Hunt" by Bill Cosby
  • "The Best Way to Play" by Bill Cosby
  • "Ellen Foster" by Kaye Gibbons
  • "A Virtuous Woman" by Kaye Gibbons
  • "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines
  • "Songs in Ordinary Time" by Mary McGarry Morris
  • "The Heart of a Woman" by Maya Angelou
  • "The Rapture of Canaan" by Sheri Reynolds
  • "Stones from the River" by Ursula Hegi
  • "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb


  • "Where the Heart Is" by Billie Letts
  • "Midwives" by Chris Bohjalian
  • "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day" by Pearl Cleage
  • "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb
  • "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat
  • "Black and Blue" by Anna Quindlen
  • "Here on Earth" by Alice Hoffman
  • "Paradise" by Toni Morrison


  • "A Map of the World" by Jane Hamilton
  • "Vinegar Hill" by A. Manette Ansay
  • "River, Cross My Heart" by Breena Clarke
  • "Tara Road" by Maeve Binchy
  • "Mother of Pearl" by Melinda Haynes
  • "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch
  • "The Pilot's Wife" by Anita Shreve
  • "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink
  • "Jewel" by Bret Lott


  • "House of Sand and Fog" by Andre Dubus III
  • "Drowning Ruth" by Christina Schwarz
  • "Open House" by Elizabeth Berg
  • "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver
  • "While I Was Gone" by Sue Miller
  • "The Bluest Eyes" by Toni Morrison
  • "Back Roads" by Tawni O'Dell
  • "Daughter of Fortune" by Isabelle Allende
  • "Gap Creek" by Robert Morgan


  • "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry
  • "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen
  • "Cane River" by Lalita Tademy
  • "Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail" by Malika Oufkir
  • "Icy Sparks" by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
  • "We Were The Mulvaneys" by Joyce Carol Oates


  • "Sula" by Toni Morrison
  • "Fall on Your Knees" by Ann-Marie MacDonald



  • "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez
  • "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers
  • "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy
  • "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck


  • "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey
  • "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner
  • "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner
  • "A Light in August" by William Faulkner



  • "The Measure of a Man" by Sidney Poitier
  • "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
  • "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez
  • "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett


  • "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle
  • "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski


  • "Say You're One of Them" by Uwem Akpan


  • "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen
  • "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens
  • "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

Oprah's Book Club 2.0

After running for 25 seasons—from September 8, 1986, to May 25, 2011—"The Oprah Winfrey Show" went off the air. After a brief hiatus, Winfrey restarted the book club under its new moniker, "Oprah's Book Club 2.0."


  • "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
  • "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis


  • "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd (this selection was actually announced in 2013, but the book was not published until 2014).


  • "Ruby" by Cynthia Bond


  • "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead
  • "Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton 


  • "Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue


  • "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones
  • "The Sun Does Shine" by Anthony Ray Hinton
  • "Becoming" by Michelle Obama
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Your Citation
Miller, Erin Collazo. "The Complete List of Books Chosen for Oprah's Book Club." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Miller, Erin Collazo. (2023, April 5). The Complete List of Books Chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Retrieved from Miller, Erin Collazo. "The Complete List of Books Chosen for Oprah's Book Club." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).