The Great American Read

The Great American Read

Have you heard about PBS’s The Great American Read?

It is a challenge to find American’s favorite book. All of the books are fiction, and not all of the books are by American authors. The challenge is to find America’s favorite book, not a favorite American author. So there is a wide range of books on the list.

I recently watched The Great American Read show and printed out the list of 100 books. You can find more information, the show and the list of books on The Great American Read section of PBS.

One of the things that I love about this challenge is that it promotes reading. That is something that I love! The statistics when it comes to reading are terrible.

According to the Smithsonian 1 in 4 Americans don’t read a book a year. One book. They don’t even complete one book in a year. According to other statistics 20 percent of adults in the nations capital struggle with everyday illiteracy.

These statistics may vary by state, region, level of education, etc. I do not want to get into the politics of all that, but the reality is that no matter where you live not enough people are reading.

The Great American Read

Reading is a doorway into learning that can change lives. A love for learning means that you can do and become almost anything you want to.

Reading makes learning possible. Reading takes you places that you couldn’t go otherwise. It opens worlds that you would never know about. Reading is so important to so much in life.

It is a way to learn so much. It is also a way to relax and lose yourself in another world. I can’t imagine life without books.

So I am all for anything that promotes a love or reading and learning. I think it is great the PBS is helping America find its favorite book.

I will admit though that the list of 100 favorite books surprised me a little. What surprised me even more was that I have only read twelve of the books. I tend to read more nonfiction than fiction, but still twelve out of one hundred is pretty sad.

I knew I had not read a lot of the classics and I have not read a lot of modern fiction, but I had no idea that I had read so little of what was popular. I now have quite a few books, especially some classics, that I will be adding to my to read pile.

A few of the books on the list were no surprise. Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, The Pilgrims Progress, Harry Potter, and others are well known books. Even if you haven’t read them, most people have probably heard of them.

Some books that are on the list kind of shocked me though. I am not totally sure how PBS came up with the list, but a few of the books on the list are surprising to me.

Books like V.C. Andres Flowers in the Attic. I could write a whole post on a friend letting me read her copy of those books in junior high, and how I took them home to read without my parents knowing. They would have never let me read those books. And those books totally gave me nightmares, and I wished I had not read them. Not one of my prouder reading moments. Quite honestly I have no idea why Flowers in the Attic made the list. But obviously people disagree with me on that one.

I know a lot of people have read Fifty Shades of Gray and The Shack, but I was shocked to see them on the list of 100 favorites. Are those really in America’s top 100 books? There were a few others that I had no idea were so popular.

I was also a bit surprised at some that didn’t make the list. Little House on the Prairie and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for example. Both of those books were huge when I was a kid. Which brings me to my next point. The list is a fascinating look into today’s culture.

I was complaining about the fact that Little House on the Prairie din’t make the list. My daughter spoke up, and said mom those are books that your generation read, but my generation doesn’t love them like yours did. I think she has a great point.

The Great American Read

This list of 100 books and even the book that ends up being the top book is just a look at today’s culture.

Twenty years ago the list would have looked totally different and twenty years from now it will also look totally different. I kind of wish I could see those other lists. I am guessing a few of the books would be the same, but I am also guessing that most of the list would look totally different because each list would be a look into that generation, time, and culture.

I may not agree with some of the books on The Great American Read list. I am also guessing that I won’t agree with the book that wins the top spot, but I think it is an important and fascinating look into our culture and time because the reality is that the books we read say a lot of about us, who we are, and who we will become.

If you haven’t seen the list of 100 books on The Great American Read list, I highly encourage you to check it out. I hope it inspires you to read a book outside of your comfort zone. One that will challenge you and make you think.

I do think the voting system is a little flawed and may not be super accurate to the favorite book in America because they let you vote more than once. You can basically vote everyday for a different book or everyday for the same book. Not the best voting system in my opinion for accuracy, but again still an interesting look at today’s reading culture.

And if you enjoy The Great American Read list be sure to check out BBC Big Read list. It is from quite a few years ago but seems to be what The Great American Read is based on.

I found it interesting that I have actually read more of the books on the BBC list. Only a couple more, but still more.

I was a little surprised at how different the two lists were and after reading through the BBC list I added even more books to my to read pile.

What are your thoughts on The Great American Read? Have you read very many books on the list? 




5 thoughts on “The Great American Read”

  1. I’ve read seventeen of them, including a few of the complete series. Some I read for school, most I read for fun, several I refuse to read due to subject matter. I think, overall, that it’s a rather sad list. There are many fantastic books that could be on there, and many pop culture ones – it seems rather slanted. I don’t think pop culture books are the same as the enduring classics. I think there should be separate lists for those.

    • Seventeen is better than me. 🙂 I agree with much of it being pop culture type of books. It is a look at our culture at this time, more than it is a classic list of 100 books. It would be interested to see how exactly they came up with the list. And I know the list is for fiction books, but I since I love to read nonfiction I always am a little sad that nonfiction often gets ignored.

  2. I love reading your blogs! I don’t always like the books you like, but I feel like you say what I’m thinking so often. And I agree with you about these lists.

    Grace H


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