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Great American Read

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A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

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I hadn't heard about this until I happened across this forum on New Shows. I'll look for it.

I predict To Kill a Mockingbird for the win with the full knowledge that if turns out to be something by Dan Brown or Nicholas Sparks, I'll have to kill myself.

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On 8/2/2017 at 9:06 AM, Qoass said:

I hadn't heard about this until I happened across this forum on New Shows. I'll look for it.

I predict To Kill a Mockingbird for the win with the full knowledge that if turns out to be something by Dan Brown or Nicholas Sparks, I'll have to kill myself.

On one hand, popular opinion rarely lands on anything good.  On the other hand, NPR.

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12 minutes ago, jhlipton said:

On one hand, popular opinion rarely lands on anything good.  On the other hand, NPR.

Yes, I do hope that Public Broadcasting does its job here.  I also hope that we don't only see books by dead white men featured.  Yes, there is definitely a place for the likes of Twain, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, and others...but there is also a place for Lee (which, if To Kill a Mockingbird is not featured, I'll have lost all faith in this show), O'Connor, Morrison, Baldwin, and so many other diverse authors.

Edited by Morksmate
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Does it have to be American authors? I haven't read where that is a qualification, just what Americans like to read.

If it's American books/authors I'm going with L Frank Baum and Laura Ingles Wilder. Books from my childhood are what stick with me the most.

I also really like Hawthorne, Irving and Poe as well. I guess I gravitate towards the spooky.

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This is a competition for people's favorite book? Like "American Idol" is a competition for "America's favorite singer" or "So You Think You Can Dance" is a competition for "America's favorite dancer"? Sorry, but IMO this sounds stupid.

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Some of them most definitely belong on any most important or most loved or most anything literary list.  I'm actually fairly happy with much of it.  But Fifty Shades of Gray, seriously?  Maybe if you're judging them solely as a cultural phenomenon.  Maybe.

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11 minutes ago, nodorothyparker said:

Some of them most definitely belong on any most important or most loved or most anything literary list.  I'm actually fairly happy with much of it.  But Fifty Shades of Gray, seriously?  Maybe if you're judging them solely as a cultural phenomenon.  Maybe.

I was rolling my eyes at J-Pat and VC Andrews and then 50 Shades showed up....sigh.  I guess we have to keep in mind that these are (supposedly) the "most loved" books, and not the "best"books.  I'll have to grapple that 50 Shades is anyone's most loved at another time!

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I'm conflicted over voting, which turns reading selection into a competition. If it gets more of us engaged in reading, though, the outcomes will be worth it. I have to shift my emphasis on this being a selection of a great book that Americans read to a focus of "hey, it's great that Americans are reading!" 

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I can see that.  In voting for books I like from each of my different accounts, I'm looking at it as a way to push the names of books that I've loved for one reason or another more into the public consciousness so maybe someone who say for example, has never read Catch-22 thinks hey, I've heard good things about that book that's racking up a lot of votes and gives a shot.   Putting some of these titles out there as books that are legitimately great reads and in some cases not just required for whatever class is half the battle in getting them on people's to be read lists.

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3 hours ago, nodorothyparker said:

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/

Voting for our favorite books from the above list is open.  We apparently get one vote per email address, Facebook ID, or Twitter account per day between now and Oct. 18.

I'm already disappointed that whoever put this list together doesn't know how to alphabetize titles, re: the use of "The".  Just sayin'.

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I just voted. I was so happy to see The Count of Monte Christo on the list. I read it in ninth grade and I loved it. I would have chosen The World According to Garp for John Irving and Life Expectancy for Dean Koontz.

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I missed the premier of this last night but the nearly two-hour launch is available on pbs.org and I'm wading through it now.  I like that they're taking the time to highlight each of the 100 books on their list and using short interviews with both famous and not so famous people explaining what it is about each of these books that makes them worth talking about it.  Surprise surprise G.R.R. Martin can't stop gushing about Lord of the Rings

Some of these vignettes are actually quite moving in reminding me what I've so loved about certain books or convincing me that I really do need to get around to reading a couple of them.   I love the depth of emotion some of the interviewees are displaying about their personal favorites.

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some of the books are not to my taste, but if the show gets people to read a book or read something they might not,  it's a good thing.

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I have to admit that this kick off actually brought tears to my eyes.  I love how passionately some the contributors loved the books they had suggested (although I am STILL rolling my eyes at some of them).  I am really interested to see what the episodes in the fall entail.

It did look like they were pushing about half a dozen books above the others: Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, and maybe one or two others.  I mean, I support all of those (especially To Kill a Mockingbird...maybe not Gone with the Wind as much), but I just thought that was interesting.

Oh, and here is my head-scratcher inclusion.  There are books that I don't think really deserve to be on this list (because I am a snob) but there was one that I just didn't understand being on the list at all...Pilgrim's Progress.   Has anyone read this book in the last 200 years?  It seems like the list was made up of a number sources--best selling, commonly read in school, literary achievement, historical significance.  But the only thing Pilgrim's Progress has going for it is historical significance and I'm not sure that alone warrants its place.  I mean, it's not a hill I'm willing to die on, but I just find it perplexing.

I also went and joined the FB group which is, surprisingly, kind of fun!

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I only know Pilgrim's Progress as the answer to the long loooong ago scholar bowl question of "What is generally considered the first English novel?"  It feels like the show was trying really hard to be as inclusive as possible from different genres, time periods, authors, regions, etc., which in some cases makes for some really interesting picks.  A couple of those have been added to my to-read list.  If it was about including at least one novel from that period, I probably would have argued for Daniel Defoe a few years later because most people have at least heard of Robinson Crusoe but even there they've already got Jonathan Swift.  I did love Neil deGrasse Tyson gushing with enthusiasm for Gulliver's Travels.  I'll agree that it did seem like they were pushing some books quite a bit more than others and wondered if that was because of a consensus that they are indeed superior books or they just couldn't find anyone to make the same kind of camera-friendly fuss over them.

I looked in on the FB group and backed away from all the name calling I saw in one thread from the more ... passionate proponents of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.  But I realize there's no way that wasn't going to be a polarizing pick.

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1 hour ago, nodorothyparker said:

I looked in on the FB group and backed away from all the name calling I saw in one thread from the more ... passionate proponents of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.  But I realize there's no way that wasn't going to be a polarizing pick.

Oh, I totally missed that one...but I probably won't go looking for it.  The one that sort of rubs me the wrong way is someone complaining that The Mists of Avalon should have been included.  I loved that book back when I read it, but then I learned about MZB and her role in the molestation of her daughter and...nope, just nope.  At least it has brought up the debate about separating the artist from the art and, so far, people have been respectful to each other.

 

1 hour ago, nodorothyparker said:

I did love Neil deGrasse Tyson gushing with enthusiasm for Gulliver's Travels. 

I'll be honest, Neil deGrasse Tyson made me, for the first time ever, actually want to read Gulliver's Travels.

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On 5/28/2018 at 8:06 PM, OtterMommy said:

I have to admit that this kick off actually brought tears to my eyes.  I love how passionately some the contributors loved the books they had suggested (although I am STILL rolling my eyes at some of them).  I am really interested to see what the episodes in the fall entail.

It did look like they were pushing about half a dozen books above the others: Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, and maybe one or two others.  I mean, I support all of those (especially To Kill a Mockingbird...maybe not Gone with the Wind as much), but I just thought that was interesting.

Oh, and here is my head-scratcher inclusion.  There are books that I don't think really deserve to be on this list (because I am a snob) but there was one that I just didn't understand being on the list at all...Pilgrim's Progress.   Has anyone read this book in the last 200 years?  It seems like the list was made up of a number sources--best selling, commonly read in school, literary achievement, historical significance.  But the only thing Pilgrim's Progress has going for it is historical significance and I'm not sure that alone warrants its place.  I mean, it's not a hill I'm willing to die on, but I just find it perplexing.

I also went and joined the FB group which is, surprisingly, kind of fun!

According to Amazon, it remains one of the most widely read novels in the English language.  Go figure.  The real head-scratcher for me is 50 Shades of Grey...I try not to be judgmental about anyone who chooses to read but I can't help giving a serious side-eye to anyone who will claim that as their favorite book.

I am so torn on this show.  I support anything that encourages people to read more, but I really didn't like the format of the show which I thought wasted way too much time (and I agree that they really pushed certain books over others) and I hate being "told" what to vote for.  If I care about reading enough to tune in to this show, I daresay I already have favorites and I'm not going to vote for a book I haven't read because some actor tells me to.  However, someone talking passionately about one of their favorite books and recommending it to me, like a few did, had the desired effect, and quite a few books have been added to my TBR list (which is already WAY too long).  I've read a lot of the classics on the list (my mother was a big believer in us reading the classics growing up and made sure they were available for us) but I haven't read a lot of the more contemporary novels (except Harry Potter) - guess I have some catching up to do over the summer.

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On 5/23/2018 at 7:11 AM, Treehugger said:

I'm conflicted over voting, which turns reading selection into a competition. If it gets more of us engaged in reading, though, the outcomes will be worth it. I have to shift my emphasis on this being a selection of a great book that Americans read to a focus of "hey, it's great that Americans are reading!" 

I wouldn't mind so much if it were "one person, one vote", bur being able to vote daily on a variety of social media once again makes a mockery of that precept.

I struggled with my children only wanting to read comic books for a while, now I suppose I'm grateful it wasn't Fifty Shades.

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So, I read The Coldest Winter Ever, and absolutely loved it (which is not to say it’s a feel-good book, because it’s definitely not), but then I read the additional author interviews in the back, and Sister Souljah has no empathy for the character she’s created! I was shocked. I kind of wish I’d just let the story be what it was, but I was so fascinated I was hungry for more insight, and I feel like my enjoyment was dashed with cold water. 

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And then there were 40.  PBS has released the list of the top 40 vote getters so far ahead of the Sept. 11 launch of the weekly show.  There are a few minor surprises but it's mostly tried and true favorites that you would expect to be there.  

They're lauding the fact that TWO MILLION (all caps emphasis theirs) votes have been cast.  That really isn't that much when you think about it in a country of this size over a span of several months, especially when you realize a chunk of those must have been cast by people like me who've voted at least a couple of times as it's occurred to me.  Still, I'll be interested to see what the final result looks like.

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1 hour ago, nodorothyparker said:

And then there were 40.  PBS has released the list of the top 40 vote getters so far ahead of the Sept. 11 launch of the weekly show.  There are a few minor surprises but it's mostly tried and true favorites that you would expect to be there.  

They're lauding the fact that TWO MILLION (all caps emphasis theirs) votes have been cast.  That really isn't that much when you think about it in a country of this size over a span of several months, especially when you realize a chunk of those must have been cast by people like me who've voted at least a couple of times as it's occurred to me.  Still, I'll be interested to see what the final result looks like.

Thank you for posting this.  Yeah, I'm not sure 2M is something to laud, especially considering some people might have voted every day.  I might have been one of those people.

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So the first episode was basically a cut-down rehash of the 2-hour special.  The second episode was themed on young adults and the idea of identity and "who am I?"  Not a ton of surprises there on the books they picked, even if it maybe hadn't really registered with me until they said that all the selections featured were first person narratives and how that used to be kind of a big deal.

I'm finding that I'm mostly just enjoying listening to guests talk with such passion about why a particular book matters so much to them, even if it's not what I would said about a couple of them.  It also reminded me that I need to replace my missing copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn now that I have a reader old enough to probably appreciate it.

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I'm enjoying this show so far.  I liked George Lopez's segment on Siddhartha so much I'm queuing it up to read again, even though I rarely read books twice.  Then again, I was a teenager when I read it and probably didn't get out of it what I could.

Has anyone else except Armistead Maupin gushed on about his own book?

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Last week's "Heroes" didn't really do much for me, probably at least partially because I either didn't read or wasn't terribly impressed with most of the books they featured.  This week's "Villains and Monsters" featured a much stronger collection of books and was the better for it.  And let's face it, bad guys usually are much more interesting to read about.   Score for getting George R.R. Martin and Margaret Atwood to talk about about their most famous creations.

I continue to be oddly impressed by the books Neil deGrasse Tyson chooses to gush about.  First Gulliver's Travels and now Rebecca.  I think somewhere in my head I was equating famous scientist with a guy who'd only want to talk about sci-fi, which I guess goes to show you something about assuming.  I'm also really amused to learn there's a Randall Flagg kitchen supply store on the Stephen King tour in Bangor.

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Big finale is tonight, Oct. 23.  

I mostly liked the "Other Worlds" episode in reminding what can be so great about reading sci-fi/fantasy.  Wil Wheaton's enthusiasm for some of these books is infectious.  In trying to tack on historical fiction though they really undersold Lonesome Dove, which is one of my favorite books.  I don't know if Larry McMurtry either couldn't do it or didn't want any part of it, but it feels like they could have come up with a little more than "yeah, people really like cowboys."  What really makes that book is how perfectly it captures the duality of the myth and reality of our American origin stories and how those things have shaped American character.

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My favorite won and I pretty much figured from the start it would.   Number 2 was a surprise to me the other top five were not.  I would be interested to know what the top 5 were in each state.

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Yeah, To Kill A Mockingbird as the big winner was about an anticlimactic finish as I would have expected, but one I think most people can be happy with.  While I enjoy Outlander a lot and find that series a consistently entertaining read, I've always said the writing often goes off the deep end and could really benefit from an aggressive editor to pull it back and pare it down.  Most of my other picks made the top 20 or at least close to it, (yay, Pride and Prejudice!) although a couple surprised me in not finishing higher.

What the whole thing really highlighted for me was how certain books really benefited or didn't from having a dedicated fanbase to vote over and over and lobby for them.  I guess that's true of anything open to voting like that without limits though.

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https://ew.com/books/2018/10/23/to-kill-a-mockingbird-great-american-read/

The final list out of 4 million votes cast.  Haven't seen a state by state breakdown anywhere yet.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Outlander (Series)
  3. Harry Potter (Series)
  4. Pride and Prejudice
  5. Lord of the Rings
  6. Gone with the Wind
  7. Charlotte’s Web
  8. Little Women
  9. Chronicles of Narnia
  10. Jane Eyre
  11. Anne of Green Gables
  12. Grapes of Wrath
  13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  14. The Book Thief
  15. The Great Gatsby
  16. The Help
  17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  18. 1984
  19. And Then There Were None
  20. Atlas Shrugged
  21. Wuthering Heights
  22. Lonesome Dove
  23. Pillars of the Earth
  24. Stand
  25. Rebecca
  26. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  27. Color Purple
  28. Alice in Wonderland
  29. Great Expectations
  30. Catcher in the Rye
  31. Where the Red Fern Grows
  32. Outsiders
  33. The Da Vinci Code
  34. The Handmaid’s Tale
  35. Dune
  36. The Little Prince
  37. Call of the Wild
  38. The Clan of the Cave Bear
  39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy
  40. The Hunger Games
  41. The Count of Monte Cristo
  42. The Joy Luck Club
  43. Frankenstein
  44. The Giver
  45. Memoirs of a Geisha
  46. Moby Dick
  47. Catch 22
  48. Game of Thrones (series)
  49. Foundation (series)
  50. War and Peace
  51. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  52. Jurassic Park
  53. The Godfather
  54. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  55. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  56. The Notebook
  57. The Shack
  58. A Confederacy of Dunces
  59. The Hunt for Red October
  60. Beloved
  61. The Martian
  62. The Wheel of Time (series)
  63. Siddhartha
  64. Crime and Punishment
  65. The Sun Also Rises
  66. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  67. A Separate Peace
  68. Don Quixote
  69. The Lovely Bones
  70. The Alchemist
  71. Hatchet (series)
  72. Invisible Man
  73. The Twilight Saga (series)
  74. Tales of the City (series)
  75. Gulliver’s Travels
  76. Ready Player One
  77. Left Behind (series)
  78. Gone Girl
  79. Watchers
  80. The Pilgrim’s Progress
  81. Alex Cross Mysteries (series)
  82. Things Fall Apart
  83. Heart of Darkness
  84. Gilead
  85. Flowers in the Attic
  86. Fifty Shades of Grey
  87. The Sirens of Titan
  88. This Present Darkness
  89. Americanah
  90. Another Country
  91. Bless Me, Ultima
  92. Looking for Alaska
  93. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  94. Swan Song
  95. Mind Invaders
  96. White Teeth
  97. Ghost
  98. The Coldest Winter Ever
  99. The Intuitionist
  100. Doña Bárbára
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I can't believe  Outlander came in second and is mentioned in the same breath as To Kill A Mockingbird. Laughs.  Those must be some devoted super fans spending all their time voting it up. 

Hard  to take a best books poll seriously after seeing that result.

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I'm not a reading snob, but I grimaced to see some of those on the list, and did feel a twinge seeing some true stinkers place higher than beautiful, well-written books. I hope I helped Americanah rise a place or two, but wish it had been higher. Still, I enjoyed the whole series, all that love for books and reading, and if people wanted to work to elevate their favorites (and the shows was clear to say it was "favorite" not best books often), good for them.  I loved the library workers' photo shoot! I make a point at my library to praise the staff for their displays (I love my library). My to-read list got a lot longer. 

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4 hours ago, Darian said:

I hope I helped Americanah rise a place or two, but wish it had been higher. 

I loved Americanah and definitely belongs on the list.  But I think Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, set during Nigeria's civil war, is also a masterpiece and belonged there too.  It is a very hard book to read, but it is brilliant.

I am thrilled that Alice Walker's A Color Purple was so high on the list.  And I would like to thank Ms. Walker for bringing Zora Neale Hurston back into the public realm.  I loved "Their Eyes Were Watching God."

I was also very happy to see Jane Eyre at No. 10.  When I saw Wuthering Heights at 21, I thought to myself it does belong on the list but Jane Eyre is better, and I really didn't think it would make it.

I really enjoyed Jonathan Swift's work in college and was glad to see Gulliver's Travels make the list.  

I know War and Peace is a masterpiece that I will never read.  But I was surprised that Anna Karenina didn't make the list as well.

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