Oprah Winfrey: Books That Made Me

Media magnate, philanthropist, and beacon of wisdom Oprah Winfrey has been a significant part of our cultural dialogue for many decades now. Here are five of the books that she feels have shaped her into the person she is today.

by Uptime Staff / 2021-08-24

Oprah Winfrey’s career is as diverse as it is impressive; she has worked as a television host, producer, author, and actress, and currently has over 43.1 million followers on Twitter, making her one of the top 40 followed accounts in the world. Her talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, was a national syndication for 25 years, and was the highest rated talk show in all history. In 2007, she was ranked the most influential woman in the world. Her recent high profile interview with actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry solidified her presence as a key media personality and journalist; she’s also a regular contributor to 60 Minutes on CBS, and The National Museum of African American History and Culture has exhibited her cultural significance in television. 

Oprah’s Book Club

‘Oprah’s Book Club’ started as a segment on Winfrey’s talk show, just one aspect of her huge media profile, but it’s proven to be a real cultural touchstone - much like the popularity of BookTok trends today, titles and authors suggested through it often see huge spikes in their sales after a coveted monthly feature.

In November 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oprah revealed to the Guardian a list of books that “always helped her get through tough times.” Anyone also struggling with anxiety, stress, or a lack of hope may find solace in these titles; works that Oprah herself has described as valuing for their “ability to comfort, inspire, and enlighten”. So, which motivating, thought-provoking, or uplifting books does Oprah recommend we turn to in the times where we need a new lease of life, inspiration, and joy?

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

On Uptime

Reportedly recommended to Oprah by Meg Ryan and Ellen DeGeneres, The Power of Now is a spiritual book that addresses the idea of living in the present moment; the idea being that if you live in the present, you have more inner peace.

quotation marksTime isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time, but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.

The book addresses how to reconnect to your physical senses, rather than being lost in thinking, the ideas of the past and future are essentially a mental simulation because life only ever happens in the current moment.

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

On Uptime

Between the World and Me is another work that focuses on American history and ideas, but all based from a personal perspective; that of the relationship between father and son.

quotation marksThis is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.

Author and journalist Coates first gained attention for his work at The Atlantic. This powerful book looks at understanding the nation’s history and current divide and political crisis.

Becoming - Michelle Obama

On Uptime

Michelle Obama’s autobiography details the story of her life, from her childhood in Chicago through to her campaigns and work as First Lady and her time in the White House. 

quotation marksDo we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?

A self-help book as much as an autobiography, this book is an inspirational read that challenges our natural desire to live our lives too passively - even if that feels more comfortable - and instead push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves we can be, no matter where we’ve come from, or what odds may be stacked against us.

Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

On Uptime

Oprah Winfrey once described Lean In as a ‘new manifesto for women in the workplace.’

quotation marksThere is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.

Written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the book tackles the issues that still face women today when building their careers - from leadership, feminism, and striking the balance between work and motherhood.

Caste - Isabel Wilkerson

On Uptime

This nonfiction book by journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson was a New York Times bestseller.

quotation marksThe price of privilege is the moral duty to act when one sees another person treated unfairly. And the least that a person in the dominant caste can do is not make the pain any worse.

The book examines the deeply entrenched caste system and forces that have shaped America over many years, outlining how and why society looks how it does today.

To unpack the lessons, insights, and teachings from these books in full, check out our 5-minute summaries over on Uptime to keep your brain happy.

Looking for more books to add to your 'To Be Read' List? You may also enjoy:
Books Recommended by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Books Recommended by Emma Watson


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