Oprah’s Book Club Review: The Ultimate Guide

POSTED ON Mar 6, 2023

Christopher Ortiz

Written by Christopher Ortiz

Home > Blog > Reviews > Oprah’s Book Club Review: The Ultimate Guide

Some people become so famous that their name transcends its original meaning. Not only that, but you only need to say one of their names in conversation and everyone will know who you are referring to, with no hint of ambiguity. Think, Madonna, Elvis or indeed in this case Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey born in Mississippi, USA in 1954 grew to become a household name in the 80s and 90s when her daytime TV talk show bearing her own name, exploded in popularity, to the point where many now regard it as one of the greatest shows of all time. 

Her success naturally opened opportunities for her beyond TV including business, philanthropy and relevant to the article today, creator of ‘Oprah’s Book Club’.

In this review we will take a look at exactly what Oprah’s Book Club is, the history of it and whether or not readers would find it worthwhile to participate in the Club.

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What is Oprah’s Book Club?

Originally, Oprah’s Book Club was a segment on her TV show, commencing in 1996. Each month, Oprah would personally select a new book that she thought would provide worthwhile debate and discussion amongst her audience after having read it. Over the 15 years this segment ran on her show, Oprah recommended a total of 70 books including notable works by Maya Angelou, Joyce Carol Oates, John Steinbeck and many others. 

Due to how popular both the show and the Book Club segment was, Oprah inadvertently held a huge amount of power and influence over the literary world with many of her suggestions not being household names or of a more obscure nature, ended up being catapulted into the mainstream and went on to become best sellers. 

The segment on the show concluded in 2011 but was re launched as Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 the following year, with a focus on digital media instead of television. It incorporates the use of various platforms across social media, e readers, subscription newsletters and more.  

Whilst there is no mandatory requirement for those interested in participating to sign up, those who do will receive a newsletter, exclusive updates, interviews, opportunities to intersect with experts and authors plus other subscription only content. 

There is also a specific Oprah’s Book Club Good Reads group providing further opportunity for reviews, debate and discussion. 

Each book is personally selected by Oprah and therefore there is no opportunity for submissions, which gives an extra level of credence to her selections as readers feel a more authentic connection to what is being recommended to them as opposed to a PR or advertising campaign. 

Oprah’s Book Club – Complete List

Below is the full list of all titles recommended in Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 with further titles available from the original inception of the Boom Club easily available to find online. 

Bittersweet – Susan Cain

Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver

That Bird Has My Wings – Jarvis Jay Masters

Nightcrawling – Leila Mottley

Finding Me – Viola Davis

The Way of Integrity – Martha Beck

Bewilderment – Richard Powers

The Love Songs of W E B Du Bois – Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

Caste – Isabel Wilkerson

Deacon King Kong – James McBride

Hidden Valley Road – Robert Kolker

Olive, Again – Elizabeth Strout

The Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Becoming – Michelle Obama 

The Sun Does Shine – Anthony Ray Hinton

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Behold The Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue 

Love Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Ruby – Cynthia Bond

The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie – Ayana Mathis

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

As you can see the list of titles is truly diverse with a breadth and depth not often seen in reading lists. Spanning gender, genre, race and region, it is no wonder why the Book Club is so popular.

Benefits of Oprah’s Book Club

There are countless benefits to being a member of any book club, but particular Oprah’s given its unique offering.

Firstly, there is a level of trust that comes with the recommendations coming from a household name. Many people have grown up with her and care deeply about who she is, despite not knowing her personally. Thus, when they receive a new recommendation, it lands with more authority and weight than an anonymous article or off handed tip.

Secondly, given Oprah’s success, there is a level of professionalism and high quality service  that comes with Oprah’s Book Club. The standard of production, content and high quality of its offerings are all part of the package making it more appealing for its audience and readers alike.

Lastly, for fans of Oprah it allows them to support her work. By championing the Book Club they will feel part of the community of Oprah fans, giving them tangible feelings of support and appreciation.

Aside from the above, there are more generic benefits of joining a book club. A wider sense of community, the chance to diversify the books you read, opening your mind to new perspectives and opinions, broaden your cultural horizons and many more. Particular in a digital age where so much of our attention is captured by screen time and shorter attention spans, having the discipline to sit down and engage in something more long form is incredibly worthwhile.

Oprah’s Book Club Alternatives

Needless to say Oprah’s Book Club is not a unique offering. Book Clubs have likely been in existence as long as books themselves in some form or another.

A quick online search yields thousands of results which all vary in some form or another. Some will be in person specific to a city or town, others will be focused in on a particular genre. It won’t came as a surprise that there as many different types of book clubs as there are books.

But readers will likely have to make something of a choice when deciding whether or not to be a member. Everyone only has so much free time to engage in something like this, so there is a degree of selection involved. What is it that readers want from such an experience? If it is a hands on, in person and more intimate environment then Oprah’s Book Club may not be for them. Or, as some book clubs operate, if they wish to read recommendations weekly or at least more frequently than Oprah’s, which arrive intermittently, then they may look elsewhere.

If however, they are a fan of Oprah’s, or upon reading through her prior recommendations find that the list particular resonates then signing up will likely be incredibly worthwhile.

Some other book groups to join could be Royal Road or Reece's Book Club.

Oprah’s Book Club Review – Final Verdict

In short, Oprah’s Book Club is both a long standing and respected offering in the literary world. The impact her recommendations have is unquestionable and readers will likely enjoy her picks for many years to come. The fact that it is also completely free or charge is an added bonus, especially at a time when living costs are so high. 

But those readers who are looking for something more frequent or more personal, may seek book clubs elsewhere or at least in tandem with Oprah’s Book Club. It would certainly be harmless to sign up and engage with the content as and when the reader sees fit or has the time and would enrich their reading lives whilst offering minimal commitment on their behalf, allowing them to pursue other reading interests simultaneously.

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