How Many Oprah Books Have You Read?

I spent my early twenties reading from Oprah’s book club.  I found the titles enjoyable, but it strikes me as something to be ashamed of.  However, in recently looking back over the list, there are quite a few pieces of great literature.  I was introduced to Carson McCullers from Oprah, and for that, I’m grateful.

oprah books 1

oprah books 2The other great part of Oprah’s book club was that so many women bought the books and, when done, took them to the thrift store.  I bought and enjoyed most of them second-hand.

So today, I’m going to play the game I’ve been playing with the folkloric BBC book list that directs some of what I read and post for this blog.  How many Oprah books have I read?  How many have you read?  Let’s look at the list.  (I’ll also link the list to the books or authors I’ve already written about on my blog.)

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard ( )

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison ( )

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton( )

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb (x)

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (x)

The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds ( )

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou ( )

Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris ( )

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines ( )

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons ( )

A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons ( )

The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby ( )

The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby ( )

The Best Way to Play by Bill Cobsy ( )

Paradise by Toni Morrison ( )

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman ( )

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen (x)

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (x)

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb ( )

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage ( )

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (x)

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts ( )

Jewel by Bret Lott (x)

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink ( )

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve (x)

White Oleander by Janet Fitch (x)

Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes ( )

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy (x)

River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke (x)

Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay (x)

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton (x)

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (x)

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (x)

Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell ( )

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (x)

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller ( )

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (x)

Open House by Elizabeth Berg ( )

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (x)

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (x)

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (x)

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (x)

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir ( )

Cane River by Lalita Tademy (x)

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (x)

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (x)

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald ( )

Sula by Toni Morrison ( )

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (x)

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (x)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x)

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (x)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (x)

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (x)

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (x)

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (x)

Light in August by William Faulkner (x)

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey ( )

Night by Elie Wiesel (x)

The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier ( )

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (x)

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides ( )

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (x)

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 ( )

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ( )

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (x)

Of 70 books, I’ve read 36 of them.  How many have you read?

There came a time when as I continued with school and my reading tastes matured that I had already read what Oprah (or her staff) chose.  Once Oprah began picking Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Garcia Marquez, I found that I had already been there.  (I still really want to read Light in August.)  And that’s okay.  I was happy to see her encouraging this sort of reading and happy to see some of my friends and neighbors enjoying those classics.  I also found myself discovering new authors, and reaching for other books written by them.

If you’d like a complete list of these books with thumbnail pictures and boxes to check, click here:

I know Oprah now has what she calls her book club 2.0.  Is anybody following that?  I haven’t been, but I’m sure it’s full of just as many great gems and books worth reading.


64 thoughts on “How Many Oprah Books Have You Read?

Add yours

  1. I’ve read 13, and reading some of these titles was like seeing a good friend again. The Measure of a Man is one that walked away from my bookshelves, but wow, what an amazing story. I wish I could place that book in the hands of every young person who thinks that poverty is their lifetime curse.

    I love my life in this remote section of Latin America, but i miss bookstores and libraries!

  2. 43, but out of that I’d say I only liked half of those I read. I understand the need for emotionally charged books, but after a while it gets to be too much for me and I need something with a lighter feel.

      1. I was in my twenties for most of them. I don’t know what I was looking for emotionally but I just kept reading them and then one day I though, this is stupid. These books make me feel bad. I can read heavy books, but I have to balance them with light books or fun trashy romance novels. I just have to keep a good balance or I become unbalanced. Maybe that sounds stupid or immature. I don’t know.

        1. Not at all. I do happen to like depressing books, but I began enjoying this club more once more literature came into it, rather than contemporary one-hit wonders.

          1. I was frustrated by the whole episode with Jonathan Franzen and he refused her invitation, remember? And then the one guys book turned out to be more fiction than non? I read both of those.

            On another note, I’ve started “American Wife” and am enjoying so far.

  3. Well I think that I have read about 48 of them. Nothing to be ashamed about. I tend to read a lot of depressing books, now that you mention it. Never really thought about it though.I geuss I find the suffering of others interesting?

      1. That is an interesting theory, but definitely not true in my case! I had a very normal uneventful childhood. I like to read about what makes people stronger and what kinds of things they have overcome. Sometimes the more horrible the story is the more I want to see what happens. Examples: The Stolen Life of Jaycee Dugard, The Glass Castle, Cruel Harvest I could go on and on. So, maybe the opposite of your theory is true as well.

  4. I was surprised that I had only read 13. A few I started but did not finish because the subject matter was too upsetting to me. However, as I marked off the books I have read, I recalled most with much fondness. Now I will have to add some of these to my ever growing book list!

  5. 11, pretty much the Dickens, Faulkner, and Garcia Marquez. Of what is on the list, I want to read East of Eden, since a lot of people have recommended it to me. I felt rather ambivalent about the Oprah book club. I liked that she was encouraging reading but often wasn’t attracted to the selections. I didn’t think they were bad books but I think at the time the Oprah book club was really popular I was obsessed with reading English translations of Japanese authors.

  6. 25. and i concur feeling a bit of shame; one of my bookclubs made it a point to AVOID reading Oprah picks. Do you have a favorite author on this list? A favorite book? A least fave author and/or book? My least fave is Eckart Tolle. And right next is one of my favorite books on this list, Edgar Sawtelle. What a gorgeous story, but thinking it will never earn “classic” status.

    1. Hmm, picking a favorite is hard! I did really like The Poisonwood Bible of the earlier titles. As it went on, one of my favorite authors is really Steinbeck. He’s amazing.

  7. Hello 🙂
    I am not as much of a reader as I used to be, so I have only read three of the books on this list: Night, The Bluest Eye, and A New Earth.

    I have to say- Night and The Bluest Eye were very difficult to read. They were pretty disturbing to say the least.

  8. 18.

    I saw that you didn’t read Middlesex. I felt completely indifferent about The Virgin Suicides but Middllesex really had me.

    Also, I haven’t read any Dickens. 😳 Where should I start, in your opinion, Emily?

  9. I’ve read 19 and I’m amazed I read that many. There are some difficult to read titles on this list. For those who have read more, I’m impressed. My favorite is “Where the Heart is” by Billie Letts.

  10. I’ve read 6 on that list but not because they were recommended by Oprah. The only one I read because she recommended it was Middlesex. I didn’t make it through. It grossed me out way too much. And like I said on FB, I just barely read half of Women, Food, and God, but maybe that’s not on any official list. I just remember her interviewing the author because the book was a total revelation for Oprah. I loooooooved Eat, Pray, Love. Yep. I’ll say it loud and proud. I know it’s easy to hate, but I love armchair travel, and that’s what it was for me. And I love Julia Roberts, so I loved the movie, too. Haha.

  11. I’ve read most of them. When she started her book club, the books she recommended were ones I already owned and enjoyed, some truly loved. As a source for which books to read, I don’t use it. I can’t pick a favorite because there are so many different genres represented. I love to read! 🙂

  12. Having looked at the books you’ve read I’m not sure why you feel ashamed of the fact. There are some great books in there. In the UK we have had a similar phenomenon with the Richard and Judy Book Club and although some of their choices have been lightweight they have also introduced a whole raft of previously non-readers to some excellent authors. Anything that gets people reading and exploring literature more widely is a good thing to my way of thinking.

  13. Like some others have said, I too have snobbily avoided Oprah picks, although I’ve read five from her list — not connected with her choosing of them — but as I review the list again, I’m struck with how many winners there are (not award winners, but books that are solid, wonderful, gripping, moving, delicious, etc.) She has done much for reading — promoting an interest in reading among folks who might not necessarily read…

    1. Well said, Audra. You are exactly right. My feelings of shame slowly changed as I went back through this list. It has some really great pieces of literature, for sure!

  14. Emily, I am impressed by you and your readers. My count is too low to mention. Let’s say it is north of zero. I do have to applaud Oprah for getting people to read something outside of their comfort zone. As always, well done. BTG

  15. I’ve read 18 from the list 🙂 I remember being so absorbed with Midwives, Freedom, and East of Eden!

  16. I’ve only read 3; Night, The Bluest Eye, and White Oleander. I read Night in high school and I read the other two a couple years ago. I’m not much of a bookclub follower though; I just read whatever I feel like reading.

  17. I’ve read 6 books. The racy nature of some of the books on her list turned me off to the whole list. I no longer was interested in Oprah’s recommendations. However, there are some books like A Hundred Years of Solitude that I would like to read.

    1. I can totally agree with that. I hated She’s Come Undone for that reason. That was before I began quitting books if I didn’t like them and I forced myself to finish it. Now I just put them down and walk away!

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