The Great American Read, the 8-part series in which PBS attempted to determine which novel is America's favorite, is over. On October 23rd the network announced (to no one's surprise) that the winner was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
To Kill a Mockingbird was on my list of favorites too, as were many of the other titles on the list of 100 novels which were selected for inclusion in the contest. Continuing in the spirit of competition, I hereby announce that all of my best-loved books (of those that were on the list) made the top 50! I will pause while you imagine a fist-pumping endzone dance.
Here's how my favorites stacked up:
- 1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- 3. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- 4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- 9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
- 13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- 14. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- 21. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- 25. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- 28. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- 49. The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov
How did your list do? Any surprises? There were a lot for me, starting with America's number 2 selection, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. This wasn't on my radar at all, but obviously these books are widely loved - and by people who vote, no less! I was also a little surprised that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland didn't crack the top 10. I thought it would capture many more votes across all age ranges.
Of course, we could probably all quarrel with the inclusion of certain books (FIfty Shades of Grey? And of all the possible Agatha Christie titles, And Then There Were None?) and the exclusion of others (no Watership Down?) But that misses the point of the whole undertaking. It wasn't really about determining which novels are best-loved. It was about getting people excited about books and starting a national conversation about them. I don't think any of us will quarrel with that.