And You Get Counted! And You Get Counted!: Oprah’s Book Club by the Numbers

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Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Oprah’s just chosen her 100th selection for her book club, so now seems like a good time to crunch some numbers (because the number 100 makes the percentage math really easy.) Oprah started the book club in 1996 on her daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her first choice was The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. The popularity of the club gave her picks enormous sales boosts. There is no denying the effect Oprah has on book club sales. After her show finished its run in 2011, she couldn’t stay away from books for long! She relaunched her club in 2012 with Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and has picked 29 more books since then. So for all you data nerds, or the bookishly curious, we’ve compiled information about Oprah’s book club by the numbers!

What’s the longest book? What’s the oldest book? These are some of the fun questions that will be answered. Like this: 59% of the book club picks have been by women, but books authored by men held the longest consecutive streak, with 15 titles from 55-70. Sixty-five percent of the authors on the list are white, 31% are Black, and the remaining 4% are Latine and South Asian. And there’s this morbid fact: 16% of the authors on Oprah’s list of 100 picks are dead, but only five of them were dead at the time their books were chosen. Read on for more informative stats and the complete list of 100 books!

Note: Actor Bill Cosby has been accused of multiple sexual assaults. His three books listed here (which are the only children’s books chosen to date) are included simply for the sake of accuracy and to present the full list.)

cover of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett; light blue illustration of the front of a church

Number of pages

The longest pick is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, at a whopping 976 pages long. The shortest book (discounting the three kids books) is Night by Elie Wiesel at 116 pages.

300-399: 34%

200-299: 22%

400-499: 16%

500-599: 11%

600-699: 5%

100-199: 4%

0-99: 3%

900-999: 2%

800-899: 2%

700-799: 1%

cover of Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano; painting of a woman's face in pinks and greens

Year of Publication

The most recent publication chosen by Oprah is the newest selection, Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, published just a few weeks ago. The oldest book chosen for the club is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, from 1859, one of one three chosen from the 19th century.

1990-1999: 37%

2010-2019: 16%

2020-2023: 14%

2000-2009: 12%

1980-1989: 6%

1930-1939: 3%

1970-1979: 3%

1800s: 3%

1950-1959: 2%

1940-1949: 2%

1960-1969: 1%

1920-1929: 1%

cover of The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard; illustration of a small child over rippling water

Fiction or Nonfiction

Oprah’s selections have been overwhelmingly fiction, 85% of them, to be exact. (Or 84%, if you still count A Million Little Pieces as nonfiction, though James Frey admitted a lot of it was fiction.) The first novel featured is the first book club pick, The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. The first work of nonfiction is the eighth selection, The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou, and the most recent work of nonfiction is Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain.

Book covecover of The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton; orange with yellow rings radiating from the centerr of The Sun Does Shine

Goodreads Rating

How do readers rate Oprah’s picks? Generally really well. The highest rated pick according to Goodreads is Anthony Ray Hinton’s memoir about his time on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice on Death Row, with 4.64 stars out of 5 (at the time of this post.) The lowest rated Oprah pick is Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay, with 3.39 stars.

3.5-3.99 stars: 59%

4.0-4.49 stars: 39%

4.5-5.0 stars: 1%

3.0-3.49 stars: 1%

cover of Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons; picture of a white metal headboard and pillows

Repeat Appearances

Eleven authors have had books chosen for Oprah’s book club more than once. The first author was Kaye Gibbons, whose novels Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman were numbers 10 and 11. The other repeat authors are Toni Morrison, Jane Hamilton, Wally Lamb, Bill Cosby, Barbara Kingsolver, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Dickens, Jonathan Franzen, Gabriel García Márquez, and William Faulkner.

And now, the whole list!

cover of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds

Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

A Virtuous Woman by Kay Gibbons

The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby

The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby

The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby

cover of Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Paradise by Toni Morrison

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

Jewel by Bret Lott

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke

Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay

cover of A Map of The World by Jane Hamilton

A Map of The World by Jane Hamilton

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

a fine balance

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Sula by Toni Morrison

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Light in August by William Faulkner

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Night by Elie Wiesel

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography 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

cover of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

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

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

cover image of The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family by Robert Kolker

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck

Finding Me by Viola Davis

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

Demon Copperhead cover

That Bird Has My Wings by Jarvis Jay Masters

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

For more book club fun, check out How Well Do You Remember Oprah’s Book Club Picks? and 8 Fascinating Books About Book Clubs.