PBS Great American Read Returns; Winner Crowned In October

The Great American Read returns tonight, Tuesday, September 11, at 8 p.m. on PBS stations, including Channel 13 here in New York, and will introduce viewers to the full list of America’s 100 favorite novels selected through a demographically representative national survey conducted by YouGov.

It will be hosted by television personality and journalist Meredith Vieira.

PBS has unveiled the list of America’s 100 best-loved novels, chosen in support of The Great American Read, a new PBS series and multi-platform initiative that celebrates the joy of reading and the books we love.

The chosen books span five centuries, from Don Quixote, written in 1603, to Ghost, from 2016. Authors from 15 different countries are represented, with genres ranging from beloved children’s classics such as Charlotte’s Web to modern best-sellers such as Harry Potter.

Vieira was on hand at the Morgan Library on Friday, Aptil 20, for the big announcement, along with actresses Diane Lane and Ming-Na Wen, former football player Chris Kluwe, and author Armistead Maupin.

America’s 100 Favorite Novels & Their Authors, with series counted as one title and ** denotes a series title:

1984 – George Orwell

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

A Separate Peace – John Knowles

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Alex Cross Mysteries** – James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Another Country – James Baldwin

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Bless Me, Ultima – Rudolfo Anaya

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean M. Auel

The Coldest Winter Ever – Sister Souljah

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes

Doña Barbara – Romulo Gallegos

Dune – Frank Herbert

Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

Flowers in the Attic – V.C. Andrews

Foundation – Isaac Asimov

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Ghost – Jason Reynolds

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

The Giver – Lois Lowry

The Godfather – Mario Puzo

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Harry Potter ** – J.K. Rowling

Hatchet – Gary Paulsen

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

The Help – Kahtryn Stockett

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams and Eoin Colfer

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy

The Intuitionist – Colson Whitehead

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The Joy Luck Club – AmyTan

Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton

Left Behind – Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry

Looking for Alaska – John Green

The Lord of the Rings** – J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

The Martian – Andy Weir

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Mind Invaders – Dave Hunt

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

The Shack – William P. Young

Siddhartha – Herman Hesse

The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut

The Stand – Stephen King

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Swan Song – Robert McCammon

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

This Present Darkness – Frank E. Peretti

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Twilight – Stephenie Meyers

War and Peace – leo tolstoy

Watchers – Dean Koontz

The Wheel of Time** – James Oliver Rigney, Jr.

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

White Teeth – Zadie Smith

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

The series will also feature interviews with celebrities superfans and everyday Americans discussing the way particular books have influenced them and their significance in American popular culture.

Authors, celebrities and notables joining the search for “America’s Best-Loved Novel” include Diana Gabaldon, George Lopez, Seth Meyers, Junot Diaz, Lauren Graham, John Green, John Irving, Bill T. Jones, Devon Kennard, Gayle King, George R.R. Martin, Wynton Marsalis, Lesley Stahl, Ming-Na Wen and many more, each of whom will share their personal stories and connections to their favorite book.

After a multi-platform initiative throughout the summer, which will include live public events, social media components and national reading clubs, the series will resume in the fall with several themed episodes, including an exciting finale, culminating in the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Novel.” It will be the most expansive national celebration of books and reading aimed at engaging multi-generational readers across multiple platforms ever created.

“There is perhaps no greater experience than discovering a novel that takes hold of you, works itself into your heart and your mind, changes the way you think or takes you into another world,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “With The Great American Read, we will leverage our combined broadcast and digital presence, along with the strong local connections of PBS member stations, to inspire a national conversation about beloved books and the power of reading.”

“The 100 novels selected have a special place in our hearts as they share our stories and celebrate the depth and range of our culture,” said Jane Root, CEO and founder of Nutopia. “I have no idea which book will come out on top, but I am so excited to join the journey and discover America’s most loved novel.”

Voting has been open since it launched on May 22 and continue up to the grand finale in October. Over the summer, viewers will be able to vote at pbs.org/greatamericanread and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter using #GreatReadPBS. Viewers will also be able to cast their vote toll-free by phone and through SMS texting.

The Great American Read program will encourage people to read as many novels as they can from the top 100 list, whether it’s rediscovering an old favorite or engaging with a new title,

Viewers can discuss them in virtual and community events organized by local public television stations, libraries and book reading clubs, and vote  for their favorites. The campaign will culminate with the naming of America’s number one novel.

The Great American Read is supported by an extensive multi-platform digital and social media campaign designed to inspire Americans to read, vote and share their personal connections to titles on the top 100 list and beyond over the course of the summer. This includes an interactive website, links to local events, interactive video content, social share features and much more. As part of the experience, PBS Digital Studios will develop and produce unique programming across its award-winning YouTube Channels and an original miniseries on Facebook Watch.

PBS Digital Studios hosts will collaborate with authors, booktubers and other creators to bring PBS’ legacy of championing literacy to Digital platforms. PBS Digital Studios’ Facebook Watch series is inspired by The Great American Read and features six video essays covering broad book-related topics in a highly shareable and engaging way.

In addition to the digital and social campaigns, The Great American Read has sparked nationwide community engagement efforts that will offer stations opportunities to create complementary content; stage community events; partner with libraries, booksellers, charitable organizations, schools, and other entities; and deepen the conversations and connections among people around the country.

More than 100 stations are activating around the project, with stations such as Detroit Public Television, Nashville Public Television, WLIW in New York, WETA in Washington, DC, and WUCF in Orlando leading the charge. Detroit’s literary social media series, “PBS Books,” is broadening the reach of some of the nation’s biggest book festivals in support of The Great American Read. Nashville and WUCF are leveraging their already robust community partnerships and sharing best practices throughout the system. WLIW will utilize its content-sharing platform, Wavelength, to make customizable companion programs for The Great American Read, and WETA is partnering with PBS to amplify the excitement around The Great American Read.


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