In case you’ve missed it, and I assume most everyone but a geek like me has, The Great American Read is a thing from PBS. They published a list of 100 books they’ve deemed “best loved.” Not best or greatest or most important books. Best loved.
They invite us to vote. I couldn’t possibly pick a single book, and they sensibly allow you to vote for as many books as you like.
You can find the list here.
Of course there are the usual suspects. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye. The predictable ones.
Beyond that, the editors have made an effort to make the list pretty inclusive. There are gay books (yay!). There are books by/for various minorities. There are books I’d never heard of.
Most surprising to me, though, was to see the books that generally aren’t considered of any particular literary merit, but which have been hugely popular—best loved.
Is it odd then, even ridiculous, that War and Peace and Moby Dick are there rubbing their rounded shoulders with Stephenie Meyer’s perfectly dreadful Twilight books? Obviously. But it’s also sort of wonderful. Think of the people who don’t read on a daily basis, who hurled themselves into the Harry Potter books. Same is true for Game of Thrones or Shades of Grey (I’ve not read this last one, so I’m not going to bash it).
The list motivated me to fill some of the gaps in my education, starting with some gay lit classics—and then stretching a bit into unknown genres. Here are some books from the list that I hadn’t read before, but have now:
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Chase Taylor Hackett, a budding novelist chock full of witty and insightful observations on writing. And other stuff.