PBS launches ‘The Great American Read’ to find a nation’s favorite novel
April 21, 2018 - Fifty Shades of Grey
‘The Great American Read,’ an eight-part series, launches on PBS on May 22. Viewers are invited to opinion on their favorite novel from a list of 100 renouned books.
Fifty Shades of Grey or Crime and Punishment?
Gone With a Wind or The Help?
Catch-22 or The Catcher in a Rye?
Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?
PBS is on a mission: To learn America’s favorite novel. And everybody gets to opinion from a list of 100 finalists, that USA TODAY is divulgence exclusively.
The open radio network launches The Great American Read, an eight-part series, on May 22 with a two-hour kickoff (8 ET, check internal listings). The republic afterwards gets a summer to review before a array earnings for themed episodes in a fall, with America’s “best-loved book” suggested Oct. 23.
The 100 books were selected by a demographically different inhabitant consult of 7,200 Americans asked to name their favorite novels, conducted by YouGov. (Series with mixed titles, such The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, are counted as one pretension each.)
It’s an eclectic, infrequently startling general list that ranges from the low-brow to a high-brow, from a contemporary to a classic. Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)? Check. Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)? Check. F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)? Check. Stephen King (The Stand) and James Patterson (the Alex Cross mysteries)? Check and check. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)? You bet.
Diversity (both in ethnicity and gender) is represented by authors such as Colson Whitehead (The Intuitionist), Sister Souljah (The Coldest Winter Ever), Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man), Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and Toni Morrison (Beloved). The list reflects a accumulation of genres, from scholarship novella to fear to intrigue to mysteries to young-adult to literary masterpieces.
Series horde Meredith Vieira tells USA TODAY she loves a list and a mix.
“PBS didn’t wish a homogenous survey,” says Vieira, “and with that we get a genuine brew of books, and that’s a unequivocally a good thing. we adore that it’s diverse.” She’s astounded E.L. James’ amorous blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey done a final cut, though since not? “I adore that it’s on there,” says a former Today show co-host, “because people connected with it.”
In other words, there’s zero snobby about The Great American Read, and that’s reflected in a initial episode, that facilities interviews with celebrities (Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Lane, a Bush twins), authors (George R.R. Martin, John Green, Margaret Atwood) and unchanging Americans (including a Harry Potter mega-fan from a south side of Chicago) about their favorite books.
Vieira substantially reflects many book lovers when she says she’d have a tough time picking her favorite, “but if somebody put a gun to my head, it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird, since we review it during such a infirm time in my life.”
Local PBS stations are partnering with libraries and bookstores to foster The Great American Read. Social media also will play a large part, as PBS hopes to enthuse a inhabitant review about reading. The series, Vieira says, will “expose people to unusual pieces of fiction.”
A poser lover, Vieira is now re-reading one of her favorites on a tip 100, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and says a list is call her to cruise books she’s never tried, like a extravagantly popular Game of Thrones fantasy series.
“I see books as best friends,” says Vieira, “and what improved time to enthuse people to review than now, when we’re always streaming on a phones.” She hopes a array will “encourage people to go to a library and lay in a stacks and read.” (The littlest readers aren’t forgotten; PBS Kids will horde a PBS Kids Read for ages 2-8.)
Bill Gardner, clamp boss of programming and growth during PBS, says The Great American Read is as approved as it gets. “Rather than foreordain from a top, we wish to simulate what Americans indeed caring about,” he says, explaining since a network began with a YouGov survey. If some choices — such as Gone With a Wind by Margaret Mitchell — are controversial, all a better. (Gardner pronounced he was surprised another Southerner, William Faulkner, unsuccessful to make a tip 100.)
PBS also wants a plan to be fun. “We’re not perplexing to tell people what a biggest novel is, and does it unequivocally matter who wins? We’re not doing a vote-you-off-the island form of thing,” he says.
If a array prompts a “positive” review about books, PBS will have over a mission, Gardner says. “Let’s speak about what’s good about America, what brings us together — especially now.”
Voting starts May 22 during pbs.org/greatamericanread, and on Facebook and Instagram regulating #GreatReadPBS.