April 20, 2018

Great American Reads

We have to admit, NoveList is all in a tizzy about PBS' Great American Read. On April 20, 2018, they released a list of 100 books. Of that list, they will count down from 100 to 1, allowing Americans to vote for "America's Most Beloved Book," the final reveal being October 23rd.

And what a list of it is. This is truly a motley crew of books. Classics like The Call of the Wild by Jack London and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are listed with contemporary bestsellers, such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Children's racially conscious books, such as Ghost by Jason Reynolds are next to sad animal books, like E.B. White's Charlotte’s Web. With such variety, librarians and the public alike may be scratching their head, screaming with delight, or bemoaning the absence of a beloved title.

The question I have is, what does it mean to be a Great American Read? Are they books that demonstrate the greatness of America? Are they books that Americans like to read? Are they books that show us America as we would like it to be? Before the list came out, the staff of NoveList were curious about which books would make the list. So much that we had our own office pool. Each person was to submit 10 titles they were confident would make the list. Three people in the office had nine of their ten titles on the list and two matched eight of the titles.

While I'm still trying to process the variety of books on this list, a few things are clear:

  1. The list was chosen by a good representation of people. Most of these titles are instantly recognizable to any librarian as books that get checked out often.
  2. PBS wants many people to participate. There is something for everyone on this list, including children. It should be fun to see how things evolve.
  3. It's wide open what could be in the top 10 or the final overall winner.  

In the end, whoever ends up winning the title of "America's Most Beloved Book," libraries and books will be the winners. This event can only draw more attention to the books, reading, and the impact it has on us as individuals and as a nation.

What do you think about the books on the list? Does your library plan to celebrate The Great American Read? Let us know how. NoveList wants to support you.

Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. 

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