Tayari Jones loves few things more than she loves reading. The passionate reader and author of Oprah’s book club pick, An American Marriagerecently shared with The New York Times which books she can’t live without.

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

“We need a new word for this story collection. Dark humor isn’t quite it. But it’s close. It’s dark; it’s funny; but it’s kind, too.”

A story collection about black identity, Heads of the Colored People tells the stories of Thompson-Spires’s new and refreshing characters. From humorous tales of stay-at-home moms to touching revelations about grief and death, this collection tackles many subjects head-on.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“I don’t know how this one missed me, but I read it last year and I was so smitten that I changed my syllabus so that I could require my grad students to read it and talk about it as much as I wanted.”

Following the lives of three friends after attending an exclusive boarding school together, Never Let Me Go tells the story of these marvelous people. Having always been reminded of just how special they are, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy will reunite in their adult years and finally realize why they’ve always been labeled as exceptional.

The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

“It’s a heartbreaker — there has never been a more problematic mother-daughter relationship in all of literature. But it’s also a heart-healer.”

With a new introduction by Tayari Jones herself, The Darkest Child takes readers into the twisted relationship of a mother and daughter. Sent to work a job to support the family at only 13 years old, Tangy Mae Quinn will have the opportunity to become a part of the first integrated high school class. But if she can’t break away from her mother’s grasp, she’ll be forced to continue a life of hard labor with her loveless mother.

White Houses by Amy Bloom

“Eleanor is the name everyone knows, but after this book Lorena will be a name you will never forget. Love is always hard and always worth it.”

In this historical fiction read, Lorena Hickock and Eleanor Roosevelt can’t help but fall for one another and as their bond deepens, they’ll create a lifelong bond unlike anything the White House has ever seen before. A true love story, White Houses is the unique read Tayari Jones highly recommends.

Check out the full interview and all of Tayari’s book picks here.

(photo by Nina Subin)