By Nick Romano
September 23, 2019 at 10:15 AM EDT
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The Water Dancer

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With a glorious “Yeessss!”, Oprah Winfrey announced her first pick for the comeback of Oprah’s Book Club. That pick is one Winfrey admits doesn’t need her adoring praise to gain attention, but she’ll give it anyway: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“It is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life, right up there in the Top 5,” she said on Monday’s CBS This Morning in front of cohost and pal Gayle King.

The Water Dancer is the debut novel from prolific writer Coates about Hiram Walker, a black man born into slavery on a plantation who discovers a mysterious power within him after his mother is sold away.

Coates called the Oprah’s Book Club pick “tremendous” and “a huge, huge honor for me.”

“If I’m honest about it, I got some heads up,” he said. “I got this text that said, ‘There’s a call coming at 10 a.m. this morning. You have to be available for this call.'”

Winfrey first launched Oprah’s Book Club as a segment on her talk show in 1996, and her selections had massive impacts on book sales. It came to an end in 2011, but relaunched as Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 on Winfrey’s OWN TV network and O magazine. The latest incarnation comes through a partnership between Winfrey and Apple.

The book club now re-debuts on the Apple Books app. With the launch of Apple TV+, Winfrey will interview Coates for the first installment of the accompanying show on Nov. 1.

“Together with Apple we’re building a new book club for today’s world, for a more connected world, for the entire world,” Winfrey said in a video message.

“Few people in the world can bring us together like Oprah, whose compassion and grace celebrating the power of books are unmatched,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “It’s our honor to provide a new platform for Oprah’s Book Club and support the American Library Association in opening hearts and minds to the joy of reading.”

“I am who I am today because of the experience of learning to read at an early age. Reading opened up a whole world for me beyond the red dirt road and my grandmother’s porch in Mississippi,” Winfrey said. “I want to do that for everybody. And the opportunity to do this with Apple, to speak to people all over the world about the pleasures, the excitement, the tension, the drama that a good book can bring you… I don’t know what’s better than that.”

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