The Great American Read Book List Released

PBS is hosting a national contest, The Great American Read, to engage people in choosing America’s favorite book. On April 20 a list of 100 books was released, and on May 22 at 8pm PBS will air a launch special “kicking off a summer of reading and voting.” Then, we have all summer to read what we want from the list and to vote for our favorite one. In Fall 2018, PBS will air seven more episodes following the “quest to find America’s most beloved book.”

So, this list has been released! I was excited to see it, and I was surprised by the selection. I’ve read a little over one-third of the books on the list. Naturally, my list of 100 books would look different than this list, as I’m sure your list would look different as well. It’s fun though, to think about what books you would or would not have on your list.

From The Great American Read website, here are some frequently asked questions:

How were the top 100 books chosen? 

PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated.

How did you narrow that list to the top 100?

The results were tallied and organized based on the selection criteria and overseen by an advisory panel of 13 literary industry professionals. The criteria for inclusion on the top 100 list were as follows:

  1. Each author was limited to one title on the list (to keep the list varied).
  2. Books published in series or featuring ongoing characters counted as one eligible entry on the list (e.g. the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings) to increase variety.
  3. Books could be from anywhere in the world as long as they were published in English.
  4. Only fiction could be included in the poll.
  5. Each advisory panel member was permitted to select one book for discussion and possible inclusion on the top 100 list from the longer list of survey results.

What books are included on the list?

The list contains a broad range of fictional titles, authors, time periods, countries, genres and subject matter. The list includes books from as far back as the 1600s and as recent as 2016. From beloved world literature to contemporary best sellers, many categories are represented: 20th century American classics, thrillers, young adult novels, sci-fi/fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, romantic stories, and books that represent the human experience told from a diverse range of perspectives.

Why are there only fiction books included? Why aren’t religious works included?

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is searching for the country’s best-loved novel. While GAR recognizes the broad categories of books available, they chose to narrow their focus to works of fiction because it would be impossible to cover them all over the course of an eight-part series. .

How does the voting work?

Voting will open online and on social media with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode and continue throughout the summer, leading up to the finale in October 2018. Over the summer, viewers can vote online and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their votes by using SMS and toll-free voting.

Have you checked out the list? Have you read them all? Will you be participating in The Great American Read and casting your vote?

If you would like a paper copy of the list, Topsham Public Library can get one for you – just ask at the circulation desk!