The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club)
From the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, The Water Dancer is a gorgeous debut novel about Hiram Walker, a young man born into slavery. When his mother is sold away, Hiram loses everything—but is gifted with a mysterious power that saves his life more than once. As Hiram embarks on a journey to escape to freedom and help others, he sees the world and its issues in a new light. A timely blend of historical fiction and magical realism, this book is a classic in the making.
The Nickel Boys
In this brave, eye-opening novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Based on the true story of a reform school that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
The Bluest Eye
The first of many masterpieces by Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye follows a young black girl named Pecola Breedlove who, due to the ridicule from those around her, wishes to have blonde hair and blue eyes—traits that she believes to be signs of beauty. As her dream grows more intense, her life crumbles. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, this novel questions everything from race, to class, to gender.
Long-listed for the Man Book Prize and a New York Times bestseller, Normal People is a stunning novel about love and attraction that doesn’t die. It centers on an indelible connection that grows between two teenagers and follows them throughout their lives. It’s a literary page-turner that’ll hook you from the very first chapter and it’s coming to Hulu in 2020, which we couldn’t be more excited about.
City of Girls
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, City of Girls brings readers a unique love story set in New York City during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), this book reminds us all that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person.
Tara Westover grew up isolated in a survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho. As a child, she received no education, no medical attention, and was raised to believe that the government was evil and the world would end soon. At the age of sixteen, she decided to seek education and carve out a better future for herself—one that, unfortunately, would not involve her family. Little did Tara know, she would go on to Harvard and later receive a PH.d. from Cambridge University. This bestselling true story is one that will stick with you long after you put it down.
Next Year in Havana
After the death of her beloved grandmother, Marisol Ferrera, a Cuban-American woman, travels to Havana to discover the roots of her identity. When her family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with many secrets, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.
Helen Oyeyemi is a masterful writer who is known for creating imaginative stories with magical elements. Gingerbread is a delightful tale about Harriet and Perdita Lee—a mother-daughter duo who appear normal, but carry a special secret. They’ve been making a delicious gingerbread for generations and although Londoners could take it or leave it, the people of Druhástrana can’t get enough. Harriet’s mysterious childhood friend, Gretel, a Druhástrana native, is perhaps the biggest fan of the gingerbread. The catch? Many believe Druhástrana doesn’t even exist. And Gretel seems to play a large role in Harriet and Perdita’s lives … larger than anyone realizes.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Where the Crawdads Sing is set in a small, quiet town in North Carolina where rumors about Kya Clark, aka the “Marsh Girl,” are floating around. Kya grew up isolated in the marsh that she calls home and spent the majority of her life alone. Two men eventually enter her life and everything changes. She’s finally introduced to desire and affection for the first time. But when one of these men is found dead, it’s Kya who’s accused of his murder–no one knows Kya well enough to believe otherwise. This is a gorgeous coming-of-age tale about love, tragedy, and the secrets we hold onto and keep to ourselves.
Kindred is a classic science fiction read by the renowned Octavia E. Butler. It centers on Dana, a young black woman living in California in 1976. While celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband in her home, she’s abruptly transported back in time to a pre-civil war plantation in the South. She has no idea how or why she’s been plunged back in time, but she does recognize, almost immediately, that she’s not safe. From this point on, Dana is repeatedly drawn back to the past and each stay becomes longer and more dangerous than ever before.
If Beale Street Could Talk (Movie Tie-In)
January’s book club pick is a compelling novel by James Baldwin about love and injustice in America. The novel is told from the perspective of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl who is in love with a young sculptor named Fonny—the father of her unborn child. Tish and Fonny plan to get married, but when Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned, everything changes. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience affection, despair, and most importantly, hope. Now a major motion picture, If Beale Street Could Talk is one you won’t want to miss.
This year, make a goal to read more fiction and nonfiction by authors of diverse backgrounds! The Read It Forward Book Club is a place for readers to discuss, analyze, and rave about books that showcase voices of all kinds.
Every month, we’ll ask you to vote on three different choices—ranging from novels to memoirs to timely nonfiction—then we’ll select that month’s read. Our book club will cover both classic and contemporary reads with the hope of sparking important conversations about the past, present, and future. Over the course of the year, we know there will be something special that will appeal to every type of reader.
For updates on everything to do with the Read It Forward Book Club and to vote for our Book Club picks, be sure to join the Read It Forward Facebook group.