Following on from its May 22 premiere episode, The Great American Read—PBS’ new eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels—returned to TV screens last night, bringing us all up to speed on the titles in contention for the top spot. Throughout the summer, viewers have been encouranged to read as many books as possible, vote on their favorite works of fiction, and share their thoughts and opinions on social media as part of the most expansive national celebration of books and reading aimed at engaging multi-generational readers across multiple platforms ever created.
To date, almost 2 million votes have been cast and over 333,000 people have completed the quiz to identify how many of America’s 100 favorite novels they have read. As part of the campaign, more than two dozen local public television stations across the country have planned over 125 community engagement activities, including book clubs, author appearances and readings, screening events, book-themed family activities and more.
Here at Book Marks, the day after each themed episode airs, we’ll be casting an eye back through our Classic Review Archives to bring you a curated selection of the first reviews of every iconic book discussed, from Lonesome Dove to The Lord of the Rings, A Confedercy of Dunces to Americanah, The Godfather to Gone Girl, and much more.
We’re eager to find out what book takes home the title of America’s Best-Loved Novel when the announcement is made on October 23, but before then we’ve got heaps of archival gems to share with you all.
Come rediscover some classics with us!
The Great America Read TV Schedule
“Who Am I?”
Tuesday, September 18, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Explore the ways that America’s best-loved novels answer the age-old question, “Who Am I?” From life lessons to spiritual journeys, these books help us understand our own identities and find our place in the world.
Tuesday, September 25, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Follow the trials and tribulations of some of literature’s favorite heroes. From Katniss Everdeen to Don Quixote, examine how the everyday hero and the anti-hero find their inner strength, overcome challenges and rise to the occasion.
“Villains and Monsters”
Tuesday, October 2, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Learn why literature’s most notorious villains began behaving badly. Many weren’t born evil, but became that way when faced with some of the same choices we make every day. See what these villains can teach us about our own dark impulses.
“What We Do For Love”
Tuesday, October 9, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Fall in love with some of literature’s most beautiful romances and explore the many forms of love, from family to passion to the unrequited type. Learn how America’s best-loved novels reflect the things we do for love.
Tuesday, October 16, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Take a magical journey to another world through some of America’s best-loved novels. From Middle Earth to Lilliput, the trials and tribulations of these alternate universes help us to better understand our own world.
Tuesday, October 23, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
America’s best-loved novel is revealed.