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Oprahlikes

Revised 2008
Books that Oprah has recommended and other books that are similar in theme or style. The most current fiction (including Classics like Steinbeck & Faulkner) and nonfiction from the past few years since Oprah discontinued her regular book discussions is at the end of the list.

Original Oprah Book Club Titles

Sula by Toni Morrison
Oprah’s last selection in her original book club is also one of her very favorite books. As girls, Nel and Sula are the best of friends, only children, who find in each other a kindred spirit to share in each girl’s loneliness and imagination. When they meet again as adults, it’s clear that Nel has chosen a life of acceptance and accommodation, while Sula must fight to defend her seemingly unconventional choices and beliefs. But regardless of the physical and emotional distance that threatens this extraordinary friendship, the bond between the women remains unbreakable.
Others like it:
• Campbell, Bebe Moore, Brothers and Sisters, 1994
• Jones, Gayl, The Healing, 1998
• O’Brien, Edna, The Country Girls Trilogy: The Country Girls, 1960; The Lonely Girl, 1962; Girls in their Married Bliss, 1964

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
This epic tale of family history, family secrets, and music centers on four sisters and their relationships with each other and with their father. Set in the coal-mining communities of Nova Scotia in the early part of this century, the story also shifts to the battlefields of World War I and the jazz scene of New York City in the 1920s.
Others like it:
• Atwood, Margaret, The Blind Assassin, 2000
• Eugenides, Jeffrey, The Virgin Suicides, 1993

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The five main characters converge in a crowded apartment in a nameless Indian city and face a variety of horrors–a lingering, repressive caste system, the corrupt and callous government of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, the heartlessness of unchecked capitalism, and an environment that is both unhealthy and demoralizing.
Others like it:
• Mukherjee, Bharati, Desirable Daughters, 2002
• Suri, Manil, The Death of Vishnu, 2001
• Kirchner, Bharti. Darjeeling, 2002
• Ali, Monica. Brick Lane, 2003
• Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies: Stories, 1999

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
As her husband’s health deteriorates, Enid faces the disappointments in her life including her three grown children. This wry book about family dysfunction from city to city was never discussed on The Oprah Show because of the author’s wishes.
Others like it:
• Boswell, Robert, Century’s Son, 2002
• Nelson, Antonya, Living to Tell, 2000
• Delillo, Don, White Noise, 1985.

Cane River by Lalita Tademy
This riveting family saga chronicles four generations of women born into slavery along the Cane River in Louisiana. It is also a tale about the blurring of racial boundaries: great-grandmother Elisabeth notices an unmistakable “bleaching of the line” as first her daughter Suzette, then her granddaughter Philomene, and finally her great-granddaughter Emily choose (or are forcibly persuaded) to bear the illegitimate offspring of the area’s white French planters. In many cases these children are loved by their fathers, and their paternity is widely acknowledged. However, neither state law nor local custom allows them to inherit wealth or property, a fact that gives Cane River its bite.
Others like it:
• Ball, Edward, Slaves in the Family, 1998 Nonfiction
• Randall, Alice, The Wind Done Gone, 2001

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir. Nonfiction
The adopted daughter of the king of Morocco, Oufkir and her family were banished to a desert prison in 1972 and left to die. Her memoir is an astonishing tale of persistence and survival.
Others like it:
• Latifa, and Hachemi, Chekeba, My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman’s Story, 2002
• Zoya, and others, Zoya’s Story: An Afghan Woman’s Battle for Freedom, 2002

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Compared by some critics as a cross between Oliver Sacks and Wally Lamb, this debut novel about growing up poor, orphaned, and with Tourette’s syndrome in a small Appalachian town is a painful and poignant read.
Others like it:
• Lethem, Jonathan, Motherless Brooklyn, 1999
• McCracken, Elizabeth, The Giant’s House, 1996
• McCullers, Carson, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, 1940

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
The author’s 26th novel is a rich, complex saga about a seemingly ideal family that is suddenly and forever altered by the date-rape of 16-year-old Marianne Mulvaney. This shattering event touches off an extraordinary journey into 25 years of shameful secrets and despair, culminating in the unforeseen miracles that can bring a family closer together.
Others like it:
• Downing, Michael, http://wakefield.noblenet.org/eg/opac/record/1497775?locg=1, 1987
• Enger, Leif, Peace Like a River, 2001
• Price, Reynolds, Blue Calhoun, 1992

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
In his breathtaking 1999 National Book Award Nominee, the author portrays the simple choices made by ordinary people that doom them to sensational destruction. This unique American tragedy combines a traditional story of immigrant success and a modern love story as both arcs turn upside down with brutal, heartrending consequences.
Others like it:
• Gordon, Neil, The Gun Runner’s Daughter, 1998
• Nova, Craig, The Universal Donor, 1997
• Scott, Joanna, The Manikin, 1996
• Blauner, Peter. Man of the Hour, 1999
• Boyle, T. Coraghessan. Tortilla Curtain, 1995

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
In a mesmerizing debut, this novel is a stunning portrait of the ties that bind sisters together and the forces that tear them apart, of the dangers of keeping secrets and the explosive repercussions when they are exposed.
Others like it:
• Berrocal Essex, Olga, Delia’s Way, 1998 Not in NOBLE
• Gutcheon, Beth, More Than You Know, 2000
• Kowalski, William, Eddie’s Bastard, 1999

Open House by Elizabeth Berg
A woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart.
Others like it:
• Belle, Jennifer, High Maintenance, 2001
• James, Erica, Air & Graces, 1998
• Tyler, Anne, Back When We Were Grownups, 2001

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
An evangelical American clan ventures forth to the Belgian Congo, circa 1959–and is hit with a major case of culture shock.
Others like it:
• Gillison, Samantha, The Undiscovered Country, 1998
• Melville, Pauline, The Ventriloquist’s Tale, 1998
• Sguiglia, Eduardo, Fordlandia, 2000

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
Jo has everything she ever wanted: a successful veterinary practice, a devoted husband, and three grown daughters. But that is before a flirtation that returns her to the darkest moment of her past and imperils all she loves.
Others like it:
• Hospital, Janette Turner, The Last Magician, 1992
• Phillips, Jayne Anne, MotherKind, 2000

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s first novel is the story of a black girl who prays — with unforeseen consequences — for her eyes to turn blue so she will be accepted.
Others like it:
• Herron, Carolivia, Thereafter Johnnie, 1991 Not in NOBLE
• Jen, Gish, Mona in the Promised Land, 1996
• Shange, Ntozake, Betsey Brown, 1985

Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
A debut novel set among the back roads of Pennsylvania’s mining country about a nineteen-year-old boy/man who should be in college and away from his closed-minded, stricken coal town, with its lack of jobs and no sense of humor. Instead, his mother is in jail for killing his abusive father, and he is an orphan with the responsibilities of an adult and the fiery, aggressive libido of a teenager.
Others like it:
• Brown, Larry, Joe, 1991
• Buechner, Frederick, The Wizard’s Tide, 1990
• Moody, Rick, Purple America, 1997

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Set in the mid-1800s, this novel follows the fortunes of Eliza Sommers, Chilean by birth but adopted by a British spinster, Rose Sommers, and her bachelor brother, Jeremy, after she is abandoned on their doorstep.
Others like it:
• Dash, Julie, Daughters of the Dust, 1997
• Naslund, Sena Jeter, Ahab’s Wife; or, The Star-Gazer, 1999
• Wheeler, Richard, Sierra, 1996

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
Set in turn-of-the-century Appalachia, this book describes tragedy after tragedy in compassionate clarity.
Others like it:
• Chappell, Fred, I Am One of You Forever, 1985
• McCrumb, Sharyn, The Rosewood Casket, 1996
• Smith, Lee, Black Mountain Breakdown, 1981

Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
A farmer’s wife has possibly been responsible for the death of a child. The horrifying events that follow make powerful reading and pose crucial questions about life in the heartland of America.
Others like it:
• Banks, Russell, The Sweet Hereafter, 1991
• Chernoff, Maxine, A Boy in Winter, 1999
• Swick, Marly, Evening News, 1999

Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
Ellen Grier and her family return to the rural home of her unhappy in-laws in Wisconsin after her husband, James, looses his job in Illinois. Even after James gets another job, Ellen must cope with her abusive in-laws who dislike her almost as much as they despise each other. The memory of James’ long-dead grandmother gives Ellen the courage to rescue herself and her loved ones from despair.
Others like it:
• Hendrie, Laura, Remember Me, 1999
• Staffel, Megan, The Notebook of Lost Things, 1999
If you like the “difficult mother, loyal daughter” aspect, try:
• D’Erasmo, Stacey, Tea, 2000
• Ganesan, Indira, Inheritance, 1998
• Offill, Jenny, Last Things, 1999
• Simpson, Mona, Anywhere But Here, 1987
• Swick, Marly, Paper Wings, 1996

River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
This first novel takes place in Georgetown in 1925, where a large and close-knit African American community took shape beneath the shadow of segregation. At the center of the story is baby Clara, who is swallowed by the Potomac as her sister, Johnnie Mae, cools off in the brackish water. It’s the only place the girls can find relief–they’re banned from the new, clean swimming pool the white kids use.
Others like it:
• Brown, Rosellen, Half a Heart, 2000
• French, Albert, Billy, 1993
• Scott, Joanna, Make Believe, 2000

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
This is at tale of two women, one from Ireland, one from America, who switch lives, and in doing so learn much about each other, as well as much about themselves.
Others like it:
• Appachana, Anjana, Listening Now, 1998
• Clayton, Victoria, Out of Love, 1998 Not in NOBLE
• Hugo, Lynne & Anna Tuttle Villegas, Swimming Lessons, 1998

Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
Twenty-eight-year-old Even Grade is a black man who was orphaned as a child; 15-year-old Valuable Korner is a white girl who might as well have been. Petal, Mississippi, circa 1956, seems an unlikely spot for these two to connect, but it soon becomes apparent that a friendship across race lines is just one of many miracles waiting to happen in this small Southern town.
Others like it:
• Gibbons, Reginald, Sweetbitter, 1994
• Roy, Lucinda, Lady Moses, 1998

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
An uncompromising poet, Ingrid despises weakness and self-pity, telling her daughter, Astrid, that they are ancestors of Vikings, savages who fought fiercely to survive. And when one of Ingrid’s boyfriends abandons her, she illustrates her point, killing the man with the poison of oleander flowers. This leads to a life sentence in prison, leaving Astrid to teach herself the art of survival in a string of Los Angeles foster homes.
Others like it:
• Babcock, Richard, Martha Calhoun, 1988 Not in NOBLE
• Simpson, Mona, Anywhere But Here, 1987

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
The news all pilot’s wives dread comes and a mystery unfolds as the reader discovers with Kathryn that the man she was married to was not the same one who dies in midair leaving her with a teenage daughter and too many questions unanswered.
Others like it:
• Allison, Dorothy, Cavedweller, 1998
• Bausch, Richard, In the Night Season, 1998
• Berg, Elizabeth, The Pull of the Moon, 1996
• Faulks, Sebastian, Charlotte Gray, 1999
• Hunter, Jesse Prichard, Blood Music, 1993
• Leavitt, Caroline, Into Thin Air, 1993
• McDermott, Alice, A Bigamist’s Daughter, 1982
• Mickelbury, Penny, One Must Wait, 1998
• Tyler, Anne, Ladder of Years, 1995
• Yglesias, Rafael, Fearless, 1993

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
A powerful novel of shared guilt and the redemptive power of love, set in postwar Germany. The story revolves around a teenage boy’s affair with an older woman and chronicles the devastating secret she has kept from everyone.
Others like it:
• Gordimer, Nadine, Jump and Other Stories, 1991
• Lanzmann, Claude, Shoah: The Complete Text of the Acclaimed Holocaust Film, 1985
• Rendell, Ruth, A Judgement in Stone, 1983

Jewel by Bret Lott
A forty-year-old woman gives birth to a Down’s Syndrome Baby and witnesses all the challenges of raising the child in Missisippi in the 1940s.
Others like it:
• Edwards, Kim, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, 2005
• Greenberg, Joanne, In This Sign, 1970
• Hoffman, Alice, At Risk, 1988
• Jackson, Brian Keith, The View From Here, 1997
• Lessing, Doris, The Fifth Child, 1988
• Miller, Sue, Family Pictures, 1990
• Minot, Susan, Evening, 1998
• Price, Reynolds, Roxanna Slade, 1998
• Reid, P.Carey, Swimming in the Starry River, 1994

Here On Earth by Alice Hoffman
Set in a small Massachusetts town, this novel tells the story of a doomed love affair, a return engagement between long separated former teenaged lovers.
Others like it:
• Agee, Jonis, South of Resurrection, 1997
• Alther, Lisa, Bedrock, 1990
• Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights, 1847
• Hood, Ann, Places to Stay the Night, 1992
• McDermott, Alice, Charming Billy, 1998
• Simpson, Mona, Anywhere But Here, 1987

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, Novalee Nation, 17 years old and seven months pregnant, soon discovers the treasures hiding in this small Southwest town.
Others like it:
• Bauer, Douglas, The Book of Famous Iowans, 1997
• Hedges, Peter, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, 1991
• Kingsolver, Barbara, The Bean Trees, 1988
• Lipman, Elinor, The Way Men Act, 1992
• McCorkle, Jill, Carolina Moon, 1996
• Preston, Caroline, Jackie By Josie, 1997
• West, Michael Lee, American Pie, 1996
• Youmans, Marly, Catherwood, 1996

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
A talented midwife is arrested for murder when she saves a baby by performing a Caesarian section once she believes the mother has died — only to have her assistant insist later that the woman was still very much alive. Told in the mesmerizing voice of the midwife’s daughter, Midwives depicts the aftermath of the tragedy.
Others like it:
• Connelly, Joe, Bringing Out the Dead, 1998
• Cook, Karin, What Girls Learn, 1997
• Corman, Avery, Prized Possessions, 1991
• Fox, Laurie Anne, My Sister From the Black Lagoon, 1998
• Gordon, Jacquie, Flanders Point, 1997
• Gibbons, Kaye, Charms for the Easy Life, 1993
• Lawrence, Margaret, Hearts and Bones, 1996.
• Miller, Sue, The Good Mother, 1986

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
This is a story about a man and a woman who try to free themselves of the limiting circumstances of their lives so that they can love. An HIV+ woman also helps herself see what is real when she helps her sister’s dreams come true.
Others like it:
• Ansa, Tina McElroy, The Hand I Fan With, 1996
• Briscoe, Connie, Sisters and Lovers, 1994
• Dickey, Eric Jerome, Milk in My Coffee, 1998
• Haynes, David, Live at Five, 1996
• Kasischke, Laura, Suspicious River, 1996
• Jackson, Sheneska, Blessings, 1998
• Little, Benilde, The Itch, 1998
• McMillan, Terry, Waiting to Exhale, 1992
• Price, Reynolds, The Promise of Rest, 1995
• Raymond, Linda, Rocking the Babies, 1994
• Shange, Ntozake, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo, 1982
• West, Dorothy, The Wedding, 1995

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
A book about brothers and the expectations that family members have about one another; it is also an honest, moving account of one man’s search, denial, and acceptance of self.
Others like it:
• Conroy, Pat, The Prince of Tides, 1986
• Dexter, Pete, Brotherly Love, 1991
• Ford, Richard, Independence Day, 1995
• Hijuelos, Oscar, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, 1989
• Steinbeck, John, Of Mice and Men, 1937

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
The story of a young Haitian woman’s coming to terms with her country, her mother, and her own identity.
Others like it:
• Alvarez, Julia, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, 1991
• Kincaid, Jamaica, Lucy, 1990
• Kingston, Maxine Hong, The Woman Warrior, 1976
• Lovelace, Earl, Salt, 1997 Not in NOBLE
• Naylor, Gloria, Mama Day, 1988
• Perez, Loida Martiza, Geographies of Home, 1999
• Tan, Amy, The Kitchen God’s Wife, 1991

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
A stunning novel about a marriage that begins in passion and becomes violent. After she runs away from her abusive husband, Fran Benedetto lives in fear of discovery, yet also with increasing confidence, freedom, and hope, as she struggles to create a new life for herself and her son.
Others like it:
• Shreve, Anita, Strange Fits of Passion, 1991
• Allen, Charlotte Vale, Dreaming in Color, 1993
• Bridgers, Sue Ellen, All We Know of Heaven, Not in NOBLE
• Cuccio, Joan Fay, Geometry of Love, 1997
• Doyle, Roddy, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, 1996
• Freedman, J.F., The Obstacle Course, 1994
• Greenberg, Joanne, The Far Side of Victory, 1983
• Hegi, Ursula, Salt Dancers, 1995
• Jaffe, Michael Grant, Dance Real Slow, 1996
• Kotker, Jane, Try to Remember, 1997
• Picoult, Jodi, Picture Perfect, 1995
• Robards, Karen, Maggy’s Child, 1994
• Walker, Alice, The Color Purple, 1982

Paradise by Toni Morrison
In this powerful novel, four young women are brutally attacked in a convent near an all-black town in America in the 1970s. Morrison covers the subjects of the era–the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the counter-culture, and generational conflict.
Others like it:
• Baker, Calvin, Naming the New World, 1997
• Dash, Julie, Daughters of the Dust, 1997
• Ekman, Kerstin, Blackwater, 1997
• McLarey, Myra, Water From the Well, 1995
• Naylor, Gloria, Linden Hills, 1985
• Parker, Gwendolyn M., These Same Long Bones, 1994
• Straight, Susan, I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and I Licked Out All the Pots, 1992

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
A real survivor, 11-year-old Ellen Foster tells of her day-to-day troubled life in a family full of trauma. Both Ellen Foster and Rudy Pitt Woodrow of A Virtuous Woman are damaged people who find the love that they both need to heal. Also check out Gibbons’ sequel to Ellen Foster: The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster (2006).
Others like it:
• Berg, Elizabeth, Durable Goods, 1993
• Davis, Thulani, 1959, 1992 Not in NOBLE
• Johnston, Julie, Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me, 1994
• Kingsolver, Barbara, The Bean Trees, 1988
• Lamott, Anne, Crooked Little Heart, 1997
• McCorkle, Jill, Ferris Beach, 1990
• McInerney-Whiteford, Merry, Dog People, 1998
• Noonan, David, Memoirs of a Caddy, 1991 Not in NOBLE
• Oates, Joyce Carol, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, 1993
• Reynolds, Sheri, A Gracious Plenty, 1997
• Sanders, Dori, Clover, 1990
• Sinclair, April, Coffee Will Make You Black, 1994
• Trevor, Penelope, Listening for Small Sounds, 1997 Not in NOBLE

A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
In this novella, 20-year-old Rudy meets 40-year-old tenant farmer Jack Stokes and lets him take care of her, discovering that love is sometimes wrapped in plain everyday paper.
Others like it:
• Berg, Elizabeth, Range of Motion, 1995
• Condon, Richard, Prizzi’s Honor, 1982
• Guest, Judith, Errands, 1997
• Guterson, David, East of the Mountains, 1999
• Mason, Bobbie Ann, Spence & Lila, 1988
• Price, Nancy, Night Woman, 1992
• Pringle, Terry, A Fine Time to Leave Me, 1989 Not in NOBLE
• Richards, Elizabeth, Every Day, 1997
• Smith, Deborah, A Place to Call Home, 1997
• Tyler, Ann, Breathing Lessons, 1988
• —, Earthly Possessions, 1977

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
African American teacher, Grant Wiggins, trapped in a career he does not enjoy, resentful at his station in life, and angered by the injustice all around him in the 1940s Louisiana town he inhabits promises Miss Emma to teach her grandson, convicted of murder and on death row, to die like a man. Both learn lessons from each other that neither knew could be taught.
Others like it:
• Campbell, Bebe Moore, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, 1992
• French, Albert, Billy, 1993
• Guterman, David, Snow Falling On Cedars, 1994
• Lee, Harper, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960
• Malone, Michael, Time’s Witness, 1989
• Rhodes, Jewell Parker, Magic City, 1997 Not in NOBLE

Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
This novel captures 1960 small town life and the household of an overworked single mom during the summer the family deals with a con man.
Others like it:
• Fowler, Connie May, Before Women Had Wings, 1996
• Hood, Ann, The Properties of Water, 1995
• McNamer, Deirdre, Rima in the Weeds, 1991
• Piercy, Marge, The Longings of Women, 1994

The Heart of A Woman by Maya Angelou, Nonfiction
The fourth in an autobiographical series (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas), describes one of the most exciting and formative periods of Angelou’s amazing life: her beginnings as a writer and an activist in New York.
Others like it:
• Hurston, Zora Neale, Dust Tracks on a Road, 1991
• Marshall, Paule, Daughters, 1991

The Rapture of Caanan by Sheri Reynolds Not in NOBLE
This coming-of-age novel centers on 14-year-old Ninah Huff and her prayer partner, 15-year-old James, and the consequences of their love affair for both them and the strict religious community they live in.
Others like it:
• Berg, Elizabeth, Joy School, 1997
• Cauley, Harry, Bridie and Finn, 1994
• Hall, Brian, The Saskiad, 1997
• Smith, Lee, Saving Grace, 1995

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi
Trudi Montag tells the story of the people of Burgdorf, Germany from World War I to the 1950s.
Others like it:
• Grass, Gunter, The Tin Drum, 1959
• Hegi, Ursula, Floating in My Mother’s Palm, 1990
• Isherwood, Christopher, The Berlin Stories, 1946
• Lippi, Rosina, Homestead, 1998

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The tragedies of her life which include desertion, divorce, madness, rape and disease test Delores Price, but never truly break her.
Others like it:
• Allison, Dorothy, Bastard Out of Carolina, 1992
• Davis, Amanda, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, 2003
• Berg, Elizabeth, Durable Goods, 1993
• —, Joy School, 1997
• Block, Francesca Lia, Weetzie Bat, 1989
• Flagg, Fannie, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (Alternate title: Coming Attractions), 1992
• Gingher, Marianne, Bobby Rex’s Greatest Hit, 1986
• Landvik, Lorna, Patty Jane’s House of Curl, 1995
• Rose, Joanna, Little Miss Strange: A Novel, 1997
• Mazer, Norma Fox, When She Was Good, 1997

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
Ruth, her bitter and demanding mother, and her unfocused husband are a family who struggle with their dysfunction and the pain and occasional tenderness living together brings.
Others like it:
• Conroy, Pat, The Great Santini, 1976
• Gowdy, Barbara, Mister Sandman, 1997
• Wieland, Mitch, Willy Slater’s Lane, 1996 Not in NOBLE

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
A young African American man’s search for his family’s secrets transforms itself into a celebration of his ancestry.
Others like it:
• Allende, Isabelle, House of the Spirits, 1985
• Bambara, Toni Cade, The Salt Eaters, 1980
• Kincaid, Jamaica, Autobiography of My Mother, 1996
• Mahfouz, Najib, Palace Walk, 1990

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Oprah’s first pick, this is a story of a woman whose small son disappears while she checks into a hotel.
Others like it:
• Bawden, Nina, Family Money, 1991
• Berg, Elizabeth, Range of Motion, 1995
• Brown, Rosellen, Before and After, 1992
• Guest, Judith, Ordinary People, 1976
• Hamilton, Jane, A Map of the World, 1994
• Oates, Joyce Carol, We Were the Mulvaneys, 1996
• Picoult, Jodi, Picture Perfect, 1995
• Rice, Luanne, Stone Heart, 1998

Fiction and Nonfiction from the more Recent Discussions, including the Classics

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
A Chinese peasant overcomes the forces of nature and the frailties of human nature to become a wealthy landowner.
Others like it:
• Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife, 1991
• Simon Elegant, A Floating Life, 1997
• Hua Yu, To Live, 2003, first published in Chinese in 1993 Book Not Available in NOBLE

Light in August by William Faulkner
In a novel about hopeless perseverance in the face of mortality, guileless Lena Grove searches for the father of her unborn child, Reverend Hightower is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen, and drifter Joe Christmas is consumed by his mixed ancestry.
Others like it:
• Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore, 2003
• Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952
• Lewis Nordan, Wolf Whistle, 1993

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Retells the tragic times of the Compson family, including beautiful, rebellious Caddy; manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their Black servant.
Others like it:
• Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987
• Nadine Gordimer, My Son’s Story, 1990
• Elizabeth Moon, The Speed of Dark, 2002

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Calliope’s friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her grandparents’ desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.
Others like it:
• Christopher A. Bohjalian, Trans-Sister Radio, 2003
• David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl, 2001
• Carol Anshaw, Lucky in the Corner, 2002

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Set in twelfth-century England, this epic of kings and peasants juxtaposes the building of a magnificent church with the violence and treachery that often characterized the Middle Ages. Sequel: World Without End.
Others like it:
• Charles Palliser, The Unburied, 1999
• James A. Michener, The Source, 1965
• Sharon Kay Penman, When Christ and His Saints Slept, 1995

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza consummate their passion at the beginning of the 20th century after having waited over 50 years.
Others like it:
• Isabel Allende, Eva Luna, 1991
• Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain, 1997
• Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town is mirrored in the family history of the Buendias.
Others like it:
• Isabel Allende. The House of the Spirits, 1985
• Rudolpho Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima, 1972
• Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street, 1991
Poetry by Pablo Neruda. Example: “I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair”

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Violence, in McCarthy’s postapocalyptic tour de force, leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea.
Others like it:
• Jim Crace, The Pesthouse, 2007
• Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1959
• Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon, 1959

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
A novel set in a small southern town focusing on man’s loneliness in a silent, unfathomable universe.
Others like it:
• Kent Haruf, Plainsong, 1999
• Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood, 1962
• Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, 1961
• Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio, 1919

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
A Zulu country parson arrives in Johannesburg and finds that his sister has become a prostitute and his son a murderer.
Others like it:
• Nadine Gordimer. July’s People, 1982
• Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart, 1958
• Wole Soyinka. The Interpreters, 1965
• Mark Mathabane. Kaffir Boy, 1986, Nonfiction Autobiography
• Nelson Mandela. Long Walk to Freedom, 1994, Nonfiction Autobiography

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Trasks and the Hamiltons live and work together in Salinas during the early 20th century. The complex examination of good and evil in this book resonates on every page.
Others like it:
• E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1975
• Isabel Allende, Daughter of Fortune, 1999
• Milton Hatoum, The Brothers, 2002

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The classic nineteenth-century Russian novel in which a young woman is destroyed when she attempts to live outside the moral law of her society.
Others like it:
• Kate Chopin, The Awakening, 1899
• George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872
• Josephine Hart, Damage, 1991

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, Nonfiction
A memoir of drug and alcohol abuse and the rehabilitation experience examines addiction and recovery through the eyes of a man who had taken his addictions to deadly extremes, describing the battle to confront the consequences of his life. Oprah also took issue with Frey’s use of fiction in a memoir on national television. Now this book is considered an “autobiographical novel.”
Others like it:
• James Salant, Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir, 2007
• Lynn Marie Smith, Rolling Away: My Agony with Ecstasy, 2006
• William Cope Moyers, Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption, 2006
• Nic Sheff, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, 2007
• David Sheff, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, 2007

Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Biography by Sidney Poitier, Nonfiction
The acclaimed actor reveals the depth, passion, and intellectual fervor that have driven his life and career, citing the elements of his childhood that gave him his sense of worth, family, and ethics and how these qualities are essential to spiritual development.
Others like it:
• Dalai Lama XIV, My land and my people: the original autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, 2007
• Michael Datcher, Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story, 2001
• Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America, 1994

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Nonfiction
Explaining that the current state of humanity is erroneously and dangerously ego-centric, an argument for a shift in consciousness reveals how the modern world can become more sane and loving, in a spiritual exploration that offers practical advice on how to promote kindness, freedom, and a realization of humanity’s potential.
Others like it:
• Richard A. Heckler, Crossings: everyday people, unexpected events, and life-affirming change, 1998 Not in NOBLE
• Dalai Lama XIV, How to practice: the way to a meaningful life, 2002
• Deepak Chopra, How to know God: the soul’s journey into the mystery of mysteries, 2000

Night by Elie Wiesel, Nonfiction
An autobiographical narrative, in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps.
Others like it:
• Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: the Nazi assault on humanity, 1986
• Jean Francois Steiner, Treblinka, 1967
• Yehuda Koren, In Our Hearts We Were Giants, 20044

Originally Adapted from an annotated list provided in Booklist, “After Oprah,” (September 1997): 64-5; “After Oprah 2,” (June 1 & 15, 1999): 1796-7; “After Oprah 3,” (August 1999): 2024-5; “After Oprah 4,” (June 1 & 15, 2000): 1848-1850; “After Oprah 5 (June 1 &15, 2001): 1836-1838, and “After Oprah 6″ (June 1 & 15, 2002): 1678-1679.
And a very special acknowledgment to Fiction-L, the gurus of RA who have provided the raw material that has suggested the additions and refinements to this list, especially Kaite Mediatore’s compilation at The Kansas City Public Library (2002). Also helpful were the Book Discussion Guides from NoveList Plus, and the NoveList Plus database itself from EBSCOhost (7/31/08).

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