Dive into the literary world of Oprah Winfrey, Talk Show Host & TV Producer.

Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, actress, producer, and philanthropist, widely respected as one of the most influential women in the world. Born into poverty in rural Mississippi in 1954 and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood, Oprah faced numerous hardships early in life. Yet, she turned these challenges into motivators, eventually becoming the host of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The show, which aired for 25 years, broke records and became the highest-rated television program of its kind in history, reshaping the landscape of talk show entertainment with its focus on literature, self-improvement, and spirituality.

Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.❞ — Oprah Winfrey

Oprah's love for reading is profound and well-documented; she has been an ardent advocate for books throughout her career, believing deeply in their power to educate, inspire, and transform lives. In 1996, she launched Oprah's Book Club, which quickly grew to become a hugely influential force in the publishing world. Her selections often catapulted authors to bestseller status and introduced readers to a diverse range of stories and perspectives. Oprah's personal reading list spans across genres, including works of fiction, memoirs, and spiritual guides, reflecting her broad interests and commitment to personal growth and understanding.

Oprah Winfrey's Favorite Books

Last Updated: May 2024

Mother of Pearl

Melinda Haynes' novel set in 1950s Mississippi explores the complex connections and secrets among a diverse group of residents, including a white woman struggling with her identity, a Black teenager seeking connection, and a mysterious newcomer with a troubled past.

Daughter of Fortune: A Novel

Isabel Allende's historical novel follows Eliza Sommers from her upbringing in Valparaíso, Chile, to her adventures in California during the Gold Rush, as she searches for love and her own identity.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Ayana Mathis's novel spans decades in the life of Hattie Shepherd and her twelve children, capturing the profound struggles and resilience of a family starting during the Great Migration.

Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the epic story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, leading to a revelation of Callie's own unique biological heritage as she transitions to live as Cal.

White Oleander

Janet Fitch's novel follows the tumultuous life of Astrid Magnussen, a young girl shuffled through several foster homes after her poet mother is imprisoned for murder, exploring themes of mother-daughter relationships and self-discovery.

Back Roads

Tawni O'Dell's novel is a dark and gripping tale of a young man in rural Pennsylvania forced to care for his three younger sisters after their mother is incarcerated, leading to unexpected and dramatic consequences.

Cry, the Beloved Country

Alan Paton's profoundly moving novel addresses the social injustices of apartheid in South Africa through the story of a rural Zulu pastor searching for his son in Johannesburg.
Also recommended by:
Bill Nye 

Songs in Ordinary Time

Mary McGarry Morris's novel set in a small Vermont town in 1960, where a struggling single mother and her children become entangled with a charismatic but dangerous stranger, explores the complexities of family and the human capacity for self-deception and hope.

Ruby: A Novel

Cynthia Bond's novel delves into the tragic and haunting story of Ruby Bell, a woman who returns to her small Texas hometown and confronts the impact of racial and sexual violence, exploring themes of love, redemption, and resilience.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel García Márquez's enduring love story, set in the late 19th century Caribbean, chronicles the lives of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, and explores the theme of love as a disease through their romantic entanglements and lifelong courtship.

What Looks Like Crazy On an Ordinary Day

Pearl Cleage's novel follows a woman returning to her small hometown in Michigan after a HIV diagnosis, where she rekindles old relationships and starts new beginnings amidst the challenges of her health and community issues.

While I Was Gone

Sue Miller's novel delves into the life of Jo Becker, a veterinarian who confronts her unresolved past when an old acquaintance re-enters her life, revealing the complexities of memory and the costs of a seemingly idyllic life.

River, Cross My Heart: A Novel

Breena Clarke's debut novel is set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C. during the 1920s and focuses on the impact of a young girl's drowning on her family and the tightly-knit African American community.

Open House: A Novel

Elizabeth Berg's touching story of Samantha Morrow, a woman who must reinvent her life by taking in boarders after her husband leaves her, ultimately finding a path to her own resilience and happiness.

A Map of the World

Jane Hamilton's novel depicts the dramatic changes in a woman's life when her best friend's daughter drowns under her supervision, leading to a cascade of legal and personal challenges that isolate her from her community.

Ellen Foster

Kaye Gibbons's novel follows the optimistic and fiercely intelligent ten-year-old Ellen Foster as she seeks a new home, escaping an abusive father and an indifferent family in the American South.

An American Marriage

Tayari Jones tells a poignant story of a newlywed African American couple whose lives are shattered when the husband is wrongly imprisoned, exploring themes of love, loyalty, race, and injustice.
Also recommended by:
Bill Gates 

The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison's debut novel critically examines issues of race, class, and beauty in America, telling the tragic story of a young African American girl named Pecola who grows up during the Great Depression, yearning for the blue eyes she equates with beauty and acceptance.

Becoming

Michelle Obama's memoir offers an intimate look at her life, from her childhood in Chicago to her years as First Lady of the United States, highlighting the experiences that shaped her.
Also recommended by:
Barack Obama 

The Tiger's Wife: A Novel

Téa Obreht's novel weaves together the Balkan legends of her grandfather's generation with the realities of a post-war society, exploring themes of loss, faith, and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Freedom: A Novel

Jonathan Franzen explores the story of the Berglund family, capturing the struggles and paradoxes of American life as they navigate personal freedoms, responsibilities, and the environmental and political issues shaping their times.
Also recommended by:
Natalie Portman 

The Poisonwood Bible

Barbara Kingsolver's novel follows the Price family who move from the U.S. to the Belgian Congo in 1959, where their missionary zeal is juxtaposed against political upheaval, and the narrative unfolds from the perspectives of the minister's wife and four daughters.
Also recommended by:
Hillary Clinton 

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

Anthony Ray Hinton's memoir recounts his wrongful conviction and nearly three decades spent on death row, detailing his journey of hope, justice, and the resilience of the human spirit.

All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir

Erin Lee Carr reflects on her relationship with her father, David Carr, and how his life as a journalist and his struggles with addiction shaped her own career and personal growth.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel reimagines the historical Underground Railroad as a literal train beneath the soil, following escaped slave Cora's perilous journey toward freedom from the antebellum South.
Also recommended by:
Adam Savage 

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat's novel tells the story of a young Haitian girl who moves to New York to live with her mother, uncovering painful family secrets while grappling with her heritage and identity.

Paradise

Toni Morrison's novel set in an all-Black town in Oklahoma explores the tensions that arise when a nearby convent shelters women who challenge the town's rigid ideals, culminating in violence and a profound examination of identity and faith.

The Best Way to Play: Little Bill Books for Beginning Readers

Bill Cosby's children's book, part of the "Little Bill" series for young readers, emphasizes the importance of imagination and teamwork through the story of Little Bill and his friends creating their own fun and games.

The Reader

Bernhard Schlink's novel is a profound exploration of guilt, betrayal, and the complexities of love through the story of a teenage boy's affair with an older woman who harbors a dark secret related to her past in post-war Germany.

The Pilot's Wife

Anita Shreve's novel unravels the mystery of a pilot's sudden death, as his widow discovers shocking secrets about her husband's life after his plane crashes, shaking the foundation of her trust and marriage.

The Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follett's epic historical novel set in 12th-century England revolves around the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, with intricate plots woven through decades of love, power, ambition, and betrayal.

She's Come Undone

Wally Lamb's novel follows the emotional journey of Dolores Price, a woman battling her own demons and dysfunction from adolescence through adulthood, seeking redemption and self-acceptance.

The Road

Cormac McCarthy's stark and haunting novel follows a father and his young son as they journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape, struggling for survival in a world devoid of civilization.
Also recommended by:
Lex Fridman 

A Million Little Pieces

James Frey's controversial book, originally marketed as a memoir, details the intense and painful journey of a young man's struggle with addiction and his challenging path to recovery.

Black and Blue: A Novel

Anna Quindlen's intense novel follows Fran Benedetto, who must escape with her son to begin a new life under new identities after enduring years of abuse from her police officer husband.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez's epic novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Buendía family in the mythical town of Macondo, blending magical realism with a poignant commentary on the solitude and the vicissitudes of human nature.

A Virtuous Woman

Kaye Gibbons's novel alternates between the perspectives of a married couple, Ruby and Blinking Jack, exploring their deep and complex love that spans the divides of their social class and personal histories in the American South.

Vinegar Hill: A Novel

A. Manette Ansay's novel explores the oppressive life of a woman living with her husband and children at her in-laws' house in a small town, examining themes of family secrets and personal liberation.

The Seat of the Soul

Gary Zukav's spiritual book delves into the connection between the soul and the universe, proposing that developing the soul can lead to emotional and spiritual growth, aligning one's actions with their deeper intentions.

Night

Elie Wiesel's profound memoir of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, exploring the depths of human cruelty and his struggle with faith in the face of unimaginable horror.

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

A carefully curated collection of Mary Oliver's poems, spanning over five decades, that showcases her celebrated observations of the natural world and her poignant reflections on life and death.

A Fine Balance

Rohinton Mistry's epic novel, set in India during the state of emergency in the 1970s, weaves together the lives of four disparate characters as they struggle to maintain their personal balance in the face of common adversity.

We Were the Mulvaneys

Joyce Carol Oates' novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Mulvaney family in upstate New York, capturing the dynamics of a family unraveling in the wake of a tragic incident that reshapes their lives.

Icy Sparks

Gwyn Hyman Rubio's novel about a young girl growing up in 1950s Kentucky who struggles with her mysterious outbursts and twitches, later understood to be Tourette Syndrome, highlighting themes of isolation, acceptance, and community.

The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz presents a practical guide to personal freedom, offering a code of conduct based on ancient Toltec wisdom that advocates simplicity and integrity in life.

The Deep End of the Ocean

Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel centers on the heart-wrenching disappearance of a three-year-old boy and the impact of his loss and unexpected return on his family, exploring themes of motherhood, trauma, and reconciliation.

East of Eden

John Steinbeck's sweeping saga of the Trask and Hamilton families in the Salinas Valley of California, exploring themes of sin and redemption with biblical parallels, particularly the rivalry of brothers, mirroring the story of Cain and Abel.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson 

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens' historical novel set before and during the French Revolution contrasts the lives of the poor and the aristocrats, epitomized by the cities of London and Paris, and culminates in a narrative of sacrifice and redemption.
Also recommended by:
Natalie Portman 

Will

This memoir by Will Smith, written with Mark Manson, offers an insightful look into the life and mind of one of entertainment's most dynamic figures, revealing his profound journey to self-discovery, against a background of fame and complexity.

Midwives: A Novel

Chris Bohjalian's suspenseful story revolves around a midwife on trial for manslaughter after a home childbirth goes tragically wrong, raising ethical questions about her profession and the legal implications of her actions.

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce

Morgan Parker's collection of poetry uses political and feminist themes to explore contemporary black American womanhood through vibrant and satirical verse.

After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story

Michael Hainey's memoir uncovers the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his father, a Chicago newspaperman, leading to a deeper understanding of family secrets and personal history.

Love Warrior

Glennon Doyle's memoir recounts her journey of self-discovery after confronting her husband's infidelity, focusing on healing, the strength found in vulnerability, and the redefinition of what it means to be a woman and a wife.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed's memoir recounts her emotional and transformative journey hiking over a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail alone, following personal tragedies that had brought her life to a breaking point.

Where the Heart Is: A Novel

Billie Letts's heartwarming novel follows seventeen-year-old Novalee Nation, who is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Walmart in Oklahoma and finds a new life and community among the quirky locals.

Say You're One of Them

Uwem Akpan's collection of stories offers a heart-wrenching look into the lives of children across Africa, dealing with harrowing circumstances like poverty, conflict, and child trafficking.

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens' classic novel chronicles the life of Pip, an orphaned boy who rises from impoverished beginnings to become a gentleman through an anonymous benefactor, interweaving themes of ambition, love, and regret.

Behold the Dreamers: A Novel

Imbolo Mbue's novel captures the experiences of a Cameroonian immigrant family in New York City as they strive for a better life, set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis and its impact on their employers and their own dreams.

Cane River

Lalita Tademy's novel is a multigenerational family saga based on the author's own ancestry, tracing the lives of four generations of African American women from slavery through the early 20th century in Louisiana.

The Good Earth

Pearl S. Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portrays the life of a humble farmer and his family in early 20th century China, exploring themes of wealth, struggle, and attachment to the land.
Also recommended by:
Winston Churchill 

The Heart of a Woman

Maya Angelou's autobiography recounts her experiences from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, including her involvement in the civil rights movement and her struggles as a single mother, providing a powerful narrative of resilience and empowerment.

The Corrections

Jonathan Franzen's novel examines the complexities and dysfunctions of an American family, as the aging parents and three grown children face personal crises that reflect broader societal issues.

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Eckhart Tolle expands on his spiritual teachings by exploring how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is essential to personal happiness and the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers' debut novel explores the deep loneliness and interconnected lives of a deaf man and the people he meets in a small Georgia town during the 1930s, revealing the inner workings of human emotion and longing.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's beloved novel, set in the racially charged South of the 1930s, follows young Scout Finch as her father, lawyer Atticus Finch, defends a black man unjustly accused of rape, teaching profound lessons about morality and justice.
Also recommended by:
Tupac Shakur  Jordan Peterson 

Light in August

Another of Faulkner's masterpieces, this novel explores themes of identity and racial conflict in the American South, told through the interconnected stories of several residents of Jefferson, Mississippi.
Also recommended by:
Woody Harrelson 

The Book of Ruth

Jane Hamilton's novel tells the story of Ruth, a young woman in a small Illinois town, who navigates a life filled with hardship and tragedy, marked by her complex relationships with her family.
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