PBS's The Great American Read

Discussion in 'Reading Pad' started by Tree City, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    Fellow readers: Have you heard of the PBS show The Great American Read? The second episode airs Tuesday, but you can watch the first episode on PBS's website (or perhaps OnDemand, which is how I'm currently watching). It's a series where famous people (not just authors) argue for the novel they think is the Great American Read and we, the viewers, are allowed to vote once per day for our favorite.

    Here, in alphabetical order, is the list of 100 books they'll be discussing and arguing to crown as the Great American Read. What do you think? Does the list seem anywhere near correct? What would you add--or what would you remove? (And non-USA peeps, I do want to apologize because I don't know if you can watch the show, but I do hope you'll comment on whether you agree with the list.)
     
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  2. michelepixels

    michelepixels Perfectly happy smack in the middle

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    I could never pick ONE favorite or declare a single book the best. But I agree the following are great books (with exceptions as noted). More of them may be great too, but there are many on the list I haven't read.

    1984 - scarily fascinating, a good warning, not enjoyable but something a well educated person should read
    Anne of Green Gables -- definitely on a list of favorites for me, the entire series
    The Catcher in the Rye -- I actually don't really remember it now, but I know it was one of the very, very few assigned readings in high school that I actually read as thoroughly as books I chose for myself, because it interested me. Someday I'll read it again.
    Charlotte's Web -- not a favorite personally, and haven't read it since childhood, but I think it deserve status as a classic
    Narnia -- same feeling as Charlotte's Web, except I read it as an adult, to my children; what I loved best actually is not the book but the stage play my daughter did with her drama club
    The Clan of the Cave Bear -- haven't read it since college, but I thoroughly enjoyed it; still own paperback copies of the series (never got past the second book though) and would like to read again someday
    The Color Purple -- I believe it probably is a well-written story, I own an old copy from the late 80's or early 90's, and I feel like I should read it someday, but I haven't yet
    NOT Flowers In The Attic -- Ugh. Okay, it was written compellingly and I devoured it in horrific fascination as an older teen, after my older sister recommended it to me, but I have never wanted to read it again, nor do I expect will I ever.
    The Giver -- Read it for the first time 2-3 years ago and it was satisfying, as far as dystopian novels go.
    Gone With The Wind -- Loved it in high school but haven't had any interest in reading it again.
    The Grapes of Wrath -- another of the few books I had to read in high school that I actually got into, so it must have been well-written
    The Great Gatsby -- probably pretty good but my fondness for it has more to do with the people and events surrounding my reading it
    The Handmaid's Tale -- horrifying but fascinating
    Harry Potter series -- ABSOLUTELY definitely on my list of favorites, each book in the series is better than the last
    The Help -- great storytelling
    The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- I can't remember if I ever finished reading it, but I know the basics, thanks to my husband and find it amusing!
    The Hunger Games -- great storytelling even though it's a horrible scenario
    Jurassic Park -- I think I would probably choose one of his other books. I do think he is a fantastic writer whose books always make me stay up all night to see how the story ends.
    Looking For Alaska -- I love ALL John Green's books.
    The Lord of The Rings -- I'm not a big fantasy novel reader but have a high appreciation for them and knowledge of the stories from my family members who do love this genre. Oh, and also I binged the LOTR movies a few years ago. I don't think I've ever finished the book, but I do remember near the end of my pregnancy with my oldest daughter, my husband I started reading it aloud to each other and I told Rhiannon, "Now, you don't have to wait for us to finish reading this before you come out." She was born the next day.
    The Martian -- a fascinating story, just a little heavy on technical details at times
    The Outsiders -- another book I read in high school and actually got into; I liked it enough to buy other Hinton novels too, but I don't think I got around to reading them
    Ready Player One -- I couldn't even remember that I read this, though I recognized the title, but I'm sharing this list with my husband right now and when we got to this one he ranted for a while about how awful it was and I decided to check my Goodreads. Turns out I did read it, in February 2016, and after talking with my husband and reading my review I do remember it a bit. It was an interesting story. Not well told though.
    ???The Stand -- I haven't read it but he's definitely a fantastic author. I never read any Stephen King book until last year when I read 1969, about JFK's assassination. I had previously read about what a great writer King is, and also a little bit about what kind of person he is, which I like, and so I'm glad to have found he wrote something that is more of a historical novel than horror. Because I love the former and avoid the latter. It was a very compelling, well-told story, even on audiobook; it's a challenge for me to focus on audio and comprehend it. I might read the book again someday.
    maybe The Sun Also Rises -- I'm pretty sure I read this in high school, the title is familiar, but I remember nothing about it. I might give it another chance someday.
    To Kill a Mockingbird -- one of the few books I actually got into in high school AND read it again as an adult, so it must be fantastically written; and like I said, I'm into historical fiction
    NOT The Twilight Series -- maybe it's not fair because I haven't read them or even touched a copy, so maybe I'm only going by the critical reviews I've read, but I'm skeptical this deserves a spot on the list


    Books I might add:
    Anna Karenina -- I don't even remember the plot, but I listed to this on audiotape while nursing my first baby and I think I was into it.
    everything by Madeleine L'Engle -- Most avid readers would probably agree with Wrinkle in Time. I also loved her Austin series, a coming of age, family story, especially the second book, about their travels back and forth across the U.S. She was my favorite author throughout my teens and I own just about everything she wrote.
    The Princess Bride -- although I can't remember if I loved the book as much as the movie; it has been many years since I read it

    And what about non-fiction? The list is just called The Great American Read and refers to the "most-loved books" rather than novels. If we're just talking about books in general there are lots of non-fiction titles I'd add. Like David duChemin's photography books, Connection Parenting by Pam Leo, Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto and all of John Holt's books about homeschooling, and, something I read just in the last month, Neil Patrick Harris' autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, which was very funny! Oh, and also definitely to be included on my list of favorites is Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari; he writes about humanity's entire history and how knowledge of the past helps us understand the future.
     
  3. norton94

    norton94 Thank goodness I'm still a Well-Known Member

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    I watched the first one too Sara... I found it nostalgic and fun. It was enticing to hear about so many good ones I should give a go, while at the same time reminding me of beloved plots and writers.

    Thanks for the reminder about part 2!

    One missing from the list in my opinion is Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy... a classic but such a classic. Maybe my take on it was also influenced by what else was going on in my life... college :)
    @michelepixels we almost completely agree, but I can't support A Wrinkle in Time LOL - I've read it twice and disliked it both times. The first was for school in like 5th grade and I totally didn't understand it. The next was as an adult - read it with my 12 yr old child (we did that through middle school for fun). Anyway I thought since he had to read it for school that I'd like to be along for the ride since it's so well received. I guess I'm still dense?! I still just don't get the appeal. I understood the plot better this time, but just didn't connect (and secretly hate that I'm obviously missing something).
     
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  4. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    @michelepixels I basically wanted to quote your whole post but that might get crazy-long lol, so I'll just say that I agree with some of your comments. I too love Charlotte's Web, but I wish the E.B. White book on the list was The Trumpet of the Swan. That was one of my all-time favorite books as a child. And I actually read Ready for the TLP Book Club! I liked parts of it but other things really bothered me. I haven't seen the movie, which I've heard very mixed reviews about.

    @norton94 I admit I haven't read Far but I watched the film they recently released lol! After college I took a break from "The Classics" because I'd read so many for my classes (I have a BA in English). But I do like Hardy, so it's on my list. It's not at the top rofl, but it's on there. :) But I really liked Wrinkle. I actually re-read it last year; I wanted to see if DD was old enough for it, and I wanted to refresh my memory so we could talk about it. But that was all for nothing because she has no interest in reading it. Sigh. Maybe it'll be assigned to her in middle school (she just started 6th) and I'll casually bring up how we could read it together...I'm going to force her to make this a mother-daughter reading event! :giggle

    Great Expectations is one of my favorite books, so I was happy to see it on the list. I would like to have seen basically any book by Octavia E. Butler on there. Perhaps The Parable of the Sower (which is the first of a two-book series). Or Kindred.

    Michele, at the start of the show they're careful to stress that the series is for the Great American Novel. I'm wondering if they're going to do "Great American (Auto)Biography" or some other list next? That'd be fun!
     
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  5. michelepixels

    michelepixels Perfectly happy smack in the middle

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    Don't feel bad about not liking a popular book. :) I think there's a lot of room for subjectivity in this kind of thing. I really don't believe in the idea of lists like "10 books everyone should read" or anything like that. As for Wrinkle in Time it is hard to understand. Madeleine L'Engle had an interest in physics that shows in many of her books. But I'm not that into that aspect of her writing either. That's why I like her other books more; they're about coming-of-age and young adult themes and she writes about them realistically and sensitively, something I really needed at that age I think. :)
     
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  6. michelepixels

    michelepixels Perfectly happy smack in the middle

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    Quoting my whole post? I'm honored! :giggle
    I haven't read Trumpet of the Swan. I'll add it to my "someday" list.
    I think I read Ready for the TLP book club too. I just have such a weird memory. I don't think I've seen the movie.
    So it's just on the website they just say books and not novels. I wonder if I can find a recording of the book discussions somewhere. I don't have t.v. But maybe someone put copies on YouTube. Or just listening via podcast would be even better.
     
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  7. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    Thanks for the heads-up, Sara. I'll try to find it - sounds great!
     
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  8. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    Hope you like it! I'm really looking forward to the 2nd episode. I thought I'd be able to scrap while I watched the first ep this morning, but TBH I was so focused on nodding my head in agreement if I liked the book lol. And if I hadn't read a book, then I was searching for it on my local library's digital site. :)
     
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  9. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    We watched the first episode, Sara, and LOVED it!! I found it on On Demand! We really enjoyed it - hubby and I watched it together. We had read quite a few of the books, some in high school. We can't wait for the next one!
     
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  10. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    DH and I watched it together, too! We've known each other since college, so you'd think we'd have a good grasp on what each of us have read...but even though we share our Kindle libraries with each other, he didn't know I/we own Ready Player One as an eBook. (Don't worry, we're not cheating Amazon. As a Prime member, I can share my library with others in my household, and all our Kindles are connected.) So now he's got his next read. Although that's def. not my fave on the list, it'll be nice to talk about it once he's read it.
     
  11. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    Oh, we share Kindle books, too. I download all of his books directly to his Kindle. His was acting up today, so I downloaded the book he's reading onto my iPad and gave him that for the time being. He said "Oh, you can do that?" LOL - he doesn't have a clue how this stuff works. I have the Kindle App on all of my devices - he isn't very tech savvy. I tease him and tell him I do it "with smoke and mirrors". :clap:giggle
     
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  12. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    You gotta keep that tech mystery alive! :D lol!
     
  13. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    You got that right!! :giggle
     
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  14. sakura-panda

    sakura-panda Active Member

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    They have been producing Facebook videos all summer; I haven't watched any, but I've been following their page: https://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanReadPBS/ I'm looking forward to watching the series when it airs! I thought it was going to be a summer thing, and recorded the first episode; I didn't realize until much later that it wouldn't come back until fall. I'm glad it's coming back soon!

    I haven't gone through the list to see what I've read, but I know I've read more than I expected. I've saved the list in case I want to go back and read some of the others, but I think I'm going to wait to see what gets all the votes first.
     
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  15. Karen

    Karen My Christmas Wish came TRUE!

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    I'm surprised how many on there I haven't heard of before! I've read a bunch of them though and have others on my massive to-read list too. I'll have to check out the show. Would be a great show to watch/listen to while I'm crocheting I think! :)
     
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  16. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    Okay - I went through the 100 books and was blown away that I had read 43 of them! Here's my results and my "rank" - 5 stars!! GO me!! :goldstars My rank of The Great American Read.jpg
     
  17. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    oh cool, thanks for sharing! I try hard not to go on facebook, but I might have to just check that out.

    Agreed! DH watched while crocheting dish cloths. :)

    Good job, Cheryl! TBH, I haven't added up my "rank" yet. I should do that!
     
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  18. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    Yes you should, Sara. It was really fun to look at all of the books at my leisure. Have you ever read "1984"? If not, that's a must read.
     
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  19. Tree City

    Tree City I'm such a bad eugoogoolizer

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    I read it a looooong time ago. Seeing it on the list made me think it was time to re-read it!
     
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  20. Cherylndesigns

    Cherylndesigns It's a great day to have a great day!

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    I read it a long time ago, too. I have re-read it in the last few years. It's still pretty scary even today.
     
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