Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,

PBS' The Great American Read

Last night, PBS aired the launch special for their The Great American Read initiative. Throughout the summer, PBS is asking Americans to vote for their favorite book from a list of one hundred titles, culled from a survey of people across the country. The winner will be announced sometime in the fall.

As Meredith Viera talked through the one hundred choices, Seanie got to listen to my running commentary on the books I'd read. Here's the full list for your enjoyment. Titles I've read are in bold:

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

4. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
8. Alex Cross Mysteries (series) by James Patterson
9. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
10. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
12. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
13. Another Country by James Baldwin
14. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
15. Beloved by Toni Morrison
16. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
17. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
18. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
19. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
22. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
23. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

24. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
25. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
26. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
27. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

28. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
29. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
30. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
32. Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos
33. Dune by Frank Herbert
34. Fifty Shades of Grey (series) by E.L. James
35. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
36. Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov
37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
38. Games of Thrones (series) by George R.R. Martin
39. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
40. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

41. The Giver by Lois Lowry
42. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
43. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
44. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
45. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
46. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
47. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

48. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
49. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
50. Harry Potter(series) by J.K. Rowling
51. Hatchet (series) by Gary Paulsen
52. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
53. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
54. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
55. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

56. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
57. The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
58. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
59. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
60. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
61. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
62. Left Behind (series) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
63. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
64. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

65. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
66. Looking for Alaska by John Green
67. The Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
68. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
69. The Martian by Andy Weir
70. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

71. Mind Invaders by Dave Hunt
72. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
73. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
74. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
75. Outlander (series) by Diana Gabaldon
76. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
77. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
78. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
79. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
80. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

81. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
82. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
83. The Shack by William P. Young
84. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

85. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
86. The Stand by Stephen King
87. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
88. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
89. Tales of the City (series) by Armistead Maupin
90. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
91. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

92. This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti
93. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
94. Twilight Saga (series) by Stephenie Meyer

95. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
96. The Watchers by Dean Koontz
97. The Wheel of Time (series) by Robert Jordan
98. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
99. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
100. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I'm tempted to try and see how many of the unread books on the list I can knock out by the time they announce the winner. I mean, some of these I don't think I need to read. I read the first chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey and that was more than enough. The writing is awful. I've seen enough discussion about the series since to know the basic plot. I also saw the movie of Ready Player One and Seanie assures me that since I didn't care for that, I won't like the book. But maybe this list will be the motivation I need to kick a few classics off that I've always meant to get around to, like Hatchet and The Giver and Robert Jordan's series.

I don't know if I can pick a top novel yet, but if I had to narrow it down to my personal top 10 here's what I'd pick:

- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Ghost by Jason Reynolds
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I ended up cutting some books, even though I love them more than books on the list, because they aren't by American writers. In my head, the 'Great American Read' should be set in America or at least written by an American. Sorry Austen, Brontës, Rowling, etc...but I think you'll all be just fine without my little vote.

It was surprisingly difficult to cut Jurassic Park because while it may not be the most literary work, it seems a quintessential American story that captures our cultural zeitgeist so very well. Plus, it's so much fun. I may slip it back in there if I can find the heart to boot something else.

The last book I took off was The Joy Luck Club. I so want the book to be on the list, but I also have to admit that it's been at least fifteen years since I read it and I don't really remember it that well. If I get a chance to re-read the book Amy Tan might very well pop back on the list.
Tags: books, great american read, lists

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