Have you caught on to “The Great American Read” craze? This fun project, created by PBS, is an eight-part television series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, as told through America’s 100 best-loved novels.
The two-hour launch episode, hosted by Meredith Vieira, revealed the list of 100 books chosen through a national survey. PBS and the series producers used a polling service to speak with about 7,200 people across the nation, asking them to name their most-loved novel.
Authors are only represented once on the list, and books in a series are only listed as the series, to help increase variety. Books published in English and works of fiction were considered for the list. As a result, the list contains a broad range of titles, authors, time periods, countries, genres and subject matter! The oldest title dates back as far as the 1600s, and the most recent was released in 2016.
Titles on the Top 100 list like Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” might be less likely to surprise readers than more contemporary titles like Ernest Cline’s 2011 breakout “Ready Player One.”
The PBS series will continue with five, one-hour theme episodes that examine concepts common to groups of books on the list, and a finale, where the final vote for America’s best-loved book is revealed. You have plenty of time to vote between now and the finale in October. Look for opportunities to vote on PBS’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and at www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/. In the fall, more opportunities for voting will open up through phone lines and text messaging.
While you wait for the announcement, stop by any of our DCDL branches and ask us to print you a copy of the list to see what you’ve read or to pick up some new reading ideas. In no particular order, here are some titles on the list that might pique your interest.
• “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles. Set at a boys’ school in New England during the early years of World War II, “A Separate Peace” is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
• “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya. Ultima, a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic, comes to Antonio Marez’s New Mexico family when he is six years old, and she helps him discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past.
• “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews. Chris, Cathy, and the twins are to be kept hidden until their grandfather dies so that their mother will receive a sizeable inheritance; however, years pass and terrifying things occur as the four children grow up in their one-room prison.
• “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds. Aspiring to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school’s track team, gifted runner Ghost finds his goal challenged by a tragic past with a violent father.
• “Swan Song” by Robert McCammon. In a nightmarish, post-holocaust world, an ancient evil roams a devastated America, gathering the forces of human greed and madness, searching for a child named Swan who possesses the gift of life.