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The Great American Read: Is Your Favorite Book on the List? Can you guess how many have been adapted for the screen?*

One of my favorite books by an American writer

It’s the dream of many a writer to pen THE Great American Novel. Many say Fitzgerald did it with The Great Gatsby, others ascribe the honor to Moby Dick, or To Kill a Mockingbird. Obviously, as the world turns and tumbles, what amounts to the Great American Novel changes. 

One of my all-time favorite books, period.

What’s even more difficult though, is to narrow down, not just the greatest American book, but the greatest novel according to Americans! Either way, it’s an absurd notion—my favorite book may not be my husband’s—that’s for certain—or yours—or the majority of the book reading and voting public but what a delicious argument, outside of politics, to consume and divide us. There’s a new PBS series coming on May 22 at 8pm that will do just that: attempt to narrow down, not just the Great American Novel—difficult enough—but America’s best-loved book! 

Called The Great American Read, the weekly show features Meredith Vieira traveling the country in an effort to narrow down the list from the top 100 books. (Listed below in alphabetical order.) How did they come up with the top 100? A national survey. Personally, I didn’t participate in or have any knowledge of any such survey and I quibble with any list that pits Fifty Shades of Grey against Pride and Prejudice, but be that as it may! 

The criteria for inclusion was that the books be novels (hence The Diary of Ann Frank is not on the list) published in English and that an author could only be represented once—John Green’s Looking for Alaska but not The Fault in Our Stars while The Stand has to stand in for Stephen King’s complete oeuvre. Series too, like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series or the Twilight books, can only be counted once. There are glaring omissions—Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—and unbelievable IMHO inclusions, ie The Shack by William P. Young. I suspect there’s plenty to argue about what didn’t make the list. As well as what did!

Anyway, the idea is to celebrate and encourage reading. There are local events and an interactive website where we can voice our opinions and cast our votes with as much vociferousness as we do for The Voice. 

Many key authors, celebrities and notable figures in the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds will join Vieira in lending their voices and passion to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Margaret Atwood, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Green, Gayle King, George R. R. Martin, Shaquille O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jason Reynolds, Gabrielle Union, Ming-Na Wen and many others will share their personal stories and connections to their favorite titles throughout the series.
Following the two-hour launch event of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, and throughout the summer, viewers will be encouraged to read and engage in the conversation by participating in local events, and by visiting the interactive website & voting for their favoriteat pbs.org/greatamericanread.

The series will return in September with a recap and additional themed episodes exploring the nominated books, leading up to the reveal of “America’s Best-Loved Novel” on Tuesday, October 23.

 1984 George Orwell
 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
 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 (series) James Patterson
 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
 Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
 And Then There Were None Agatha Christie
 Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud 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 Díaz
 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 (series) C.S. Lewis
 Clan of the Cave Bear Jean M. Auel
 Coldest Winter Ever Sister Souljah
 The Color Purple Alice Walker
 The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
 Mark Haddon
 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
 Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
 Doña Bárbára Rómulo Gallegos
 Dune Frank Herbert
 Fifty Shades Of Grey (series) E. L. James
 Flowers In The Attic V.C. Andrews
 Foundation (series) Isaac Asimov
 Frankenstein Mary Shelley
 Game of Thrones (series) George R. R. Martin
 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 (series) J.K. Rowling
 Hatchet (series) Gary Paulsen
 Heart Of Darkness Joseph Conrad
 The Help Kathryn Stockett
 The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy
 Douglas Adams
 The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins
 The Hunt For Red October Tom Clancy
 The Intuitionist Colson Whitehead
 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
 The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
 Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
 Left Behind (series) 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 (series) 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 (series) 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 Hermann Hesse
 The Sirens Of Titan Kurt Vonnegut
 The Stand Stephen King
 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
 Swan Song Robert R. McCammon
 Tales of The City (series) 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
 The Twilight Saga (series) Stephenie Meyer
 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
 Watchers Dean Koontz
 The Wheel of Time (series) Robert Jordan and
 Brandon Sanderson
 Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
 White Teeth Zadie Smith
 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë

What’s your favorite book? Is it on the list? What didn’t make the cut but should have?

*The answer is 85. And of the fifteen remaining books, five are listed as being in development.