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Oprah Winfrey: The 7 books that 'help me through' stressful times like these

(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images)
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If you're prone to doom-scrolling Twitter, or can't take yet another stressful headline in the news, Oprah Winfrey has some suggestions on what books to read next.

Winfrey recently suggested seven books that are perfect to read right now, or during any stressful moment in life. She values these books "for their ability to inspire and comfort and enlighten," she said in a video on her Instagram Monday.

"During these times, I know it's hard sometimes to focus on anything because we're so distracted by the roar of the news, not to mention the steady hum of our own anxiety," Winfrey said.

But research has shown that reading can reduce your stress levels as effectively as other relaxation methods. Just six minutes of reading can lower your blood pressure and decrease other stress-related bodily responses, a 2009 study found.

From poetry to spirituality, here are the books that Oprah likes to "revisit time and again."

"The Fire Next Time" 

By James Baldwin

This book was published during the civil rights movement and includes two essays by American novelist James Baldwin. Though "The Fire Next Time" was written in the 1960s, Baldwin's comments about racial injustice still hold true today.


By Mary Oliver

"Devotions" is a book of more than 200 poems by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mary Oliver, which span from 1963 to 2015. Many of her poems are about nature.

"Song of Solomon"

By Toni Morrison

American author Toni Morrison, who died in August 2019, was one of Winfrey's longtime friends. Winfrey described Morrison as "a magician with language who understood the power of words" in an Instagram caption after her death in August 2019. "She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them," Winfrey wrote.

The 1977 novel "Song of Solomon" tells the story of a fictional man from Michigan named Milkman Dead.

"When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry"

Edited by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

This anthology of poems, which was published in August 2020, includes work from more than 160 Native American authors. The poems are organized based on the region: Northeast and Midwest; plains and mountains; Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Pacific Islands; Southwest and West; and Southeast.

"Between the World and Me" 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Winfrey called Ta-Nehisi Coates "a bearer of the torch, who carries on the legacy of our ancestors and is also entirely so original." This nonfiction book, "Between the World and Me," which won the National Book Award in 2015, is formatted as a letter to Coates' son and grapples with inequality and race in America.  

Coates is a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant and a distinguished writer in residence at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

"The Soul of America"

By Jon Meacham

Winfrey recommends this United States history book, written by Pultizer Prize-winner Jon Meacham, "to guide me and help me understand our current era and reassure that our country can bounce back from dark times."

This book is especially prescient in light of the upcoming election. "In moments when public life feels unsatisfactory, then, it's instructive — even necessary — to remember first principles," writes Meacham. "What can the presidency be, at its best? And how should the people understand their own political role and responsibilities in what Jefferson called 'the course of human events'?"

"The Power of Now" 

By Eckhart Tolle

Winfrey said that "The Power of Now" by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle "has changed the way I see life." (Deepak Chopra is also a fan of this book and Tolle's teachings.)

The book explores quandaries like: "How do you find peace when everything is in turmoil?" Winfrey said. "How do you listen to the stillness? How do you be present even when things are so chaotic and disruptive."

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