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Old 09-25-2018, 06:52 AM   #1
gandoe
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Great American Read ?

I just became aware of a PBS sponsored (?) program/vote/collection of the top 100 favorite American novels.
https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/

I just watched a program, highlighting some of the favorite novels that are centered on, or have major themes, in self identity, such as Catcher in the Rye, Ghost, The Outsiders, etc.

I was wondering if anyone in these forums are following or participating in this "reading program". After searching through this forum, and the Book Clubs forum, I didn't see any listings.

Just curious - thanks in advance for sharing.
Ed
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Old 09-25-2018, 11:42 AM   #2
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The selections are really hit and miss for me. I would not be caught dead reading Dan Brown or John Green, but I adore Asimov, Walker, Zadie Smith, and many of the other titles.

To me, the list looks evenly split between required high school reading, popular fiction, and some of the more popular recent literary fiction. I think it's an interesting window into what readers in the US are or are not reading, but I am not interested enough in it to follow it as a TV show or participate in voting.
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:23 PM   #3
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When I hear "top 100 favorite American novels" I think of books written by Americans not "top 100 books that American's like".

I saw part of an advertisement for this last night and saw Harry Potter as one of the books they were featuring. Then I look at the list this morning and see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on it and others that are most definitely NOT American novels.
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Old 09-25-2018, 02:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazrin View Post
When I hear "top 100 favorite American novels" I think of books written by Americans not "top 100 books that American's like".

I saw part of an advertisement for this last night and saw Harry Potter as one of the books they were featuring. Then I look at the list this morning and see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on it and others that are most definitely NOT American novels.
It's called the "Great American Read". The list page I linked below refers to "America's 100 most-loved books" rather than "American novels".

I heard of this a while back, looked at the list, saw it included 50 Shades of Grey and haven't followed it further.

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/
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Old 09-25-2018, 02:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
To me, the list looks evenly split between required high school reading, popular fiction, and some of the more popular recent literary fiction.
I agree its seems to be a pretty mixed bag. But then I suppose that's to be expected when it's compiled via an opinion poll (and subsequent volunteer votes).

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but I am not interested enough in it to follow it as a TV show or participate in voting.
Same here.
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Old 09-25-2018, 02:43 PM   #6
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I love lists like these which were very popular around the first decade or so after the century change but seem to have dwindled since. This one seems to have taken care to check boxes in its selections and also seems like an American version of The Big Read in the UK because it allows in more populist choices. I prefer the lists that focus more on critical quality but this one is still interesting as a view to a smorgasbord of what all different sections of Americans may enjoy reading.
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Old 09-28-2018, 08:51 AM   #7
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Interesting...thanks all for the comments. I would agree with the general thrust, which is that it seems to be more popular choices, rather than critical choices. Given that...are there recommendations for critical choice book lists? I've already integrating the Great Books canon into my Calibre reading list...any other suggestions or links?

TIA
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Old 09-28-2018, 09:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gandoe View Post
Interesting...thanks all for the comments. I would agree with the general thrust, which is that it seems to be more popular choices, rather than critical choices. Given that...are there recommendations for critical choice book lists? I've already integrating the Great Books canon into my Calibre reading list...any other suggestions or links?

TIA
Ed
I won't rehash the discussion of the Great Books/Harvard Classics canons being painfully male, white, and anglo-centric, but I here are some modern lists that include quite a bit more diversity. I don't agree with all of the items, but it might open some new doors:

A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon from Vulture Highlights include:
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The 21st Century's 12 Greatest Novels from the BBC. Highlights include:
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The 100 Best Novels from Modern Library. This list is more typical of a classical canon, but had some good stuff on it.

The New York Public Library's Books of the Century by NYPL. This list is different in that it breaks down novels into categories like "Colonialism and Its Aftermath" and "Protest and Progress."
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Old 09-28-2018, 11:55 AM   #9
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The New York Public Library's Books of the Century by NYPL. This list is different in that it breaks down novels into categories like "Colonialism and Its Aftermath" and "Protest and Progress."[/QUOTE]

Having recently spent time studying the 20th century, I'd say that this list does a reasonable job of covering notable books of the 20th century from a historical PoV likely helped by it's relatively narrow focus
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Old 09-28-2018, 01:17 PM   #10
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While I've read many of the books on that list, the biggest standout for me personally is still Call of the Wild by Jack London. When I was first assigned this book in high school, I started reading and read all night to finish.

Other outstanding books for me were Pride and Prejudice and Siddhartha. Two more books that I read start to finish the same day.

I find it almost embarrassing that Fifty Shades is on that list, but it was a popularity poll, rather than voting for GOOD books.
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Old 09-29-2018, 05:20 AM   #11
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I like these lists. Whether I agree with the choices or not, they're always interesting things to peruse. With this one I am particularly interested in the fact that "American read" does not mean American book or subject. Given America's sometimes reputation for self-obsession this is a good and reassuring thing to see. (America is not the only country to be, at times, self-obsessed - I'm not trying to start that sort of argument here.)

As for the list including so many popular choices ... I was almost more surprised to see so many classics on there. Not that I doubt that some Americans read classics, but the thing often overlooked is that popular choices are books that lots of people choose to read! There is little point in being a stylistic and "literary" masterpiece if few people bother to pick it up. (If an author has a message that they want people to see they'd better made sure to package it in a form people will see.) So I really like the fact that so many classics appear on this list alongside so many more modern and popular choices; I think it says a lot about what people are actually choosing to read. The variety this represents is - I think - a really good thing. (Even if I really don't like some of the books on the list )
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Old 09-29-2018, 08:41 PM   #12
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I like the concept and have been supporting them since it was announced. I still need to watch the Fall episode, but have joined the Facebook group as well and voted as much as I could remember to
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:12 AM   #13
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I like these lists. Whether I agree with the choices or not, they're always interesting things to peruse. With this one I am particularly interested in the fact that "American read" does not mean American book or subject. Given America's sometimes reputation for self-obsession this is a good and reassuring thing to see. (America is not the only country to be, at times, self-obsessed - I'm not trying to start that sort of argument here.)

As for the list including so many popular choices ... I was almost more surprised to see so many classics on there. Not that I doubt that some Americans read classics, but the thing often overlooked is that popular choices are books that lots of people choose to read! There is little point in being a stylistic and "literary" masterpiece if few people bother to pick it up. (If an author has a message that they want people to see they'd better made sure to package it in a form people will see.) So I really like the fact that so many classics appear on this list alongside so many more modern and popular choices; I think it says a lot about what people are actually choosing to read. The variety this represents is - I think - a really good thing. (Even if I really don't like some of the books on the list )
I was pretty surprised to see a PBS sponsored list include Atlas Shrugged and Hunt for Red October. I think it's a pretty strong list for one that wants a broad range of novels read by apparently a pretty broad range of readers.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:16 PM   #14
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Apparently these are the ten books in the lead heading into the final week of voting:
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (Series)
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Harry Potter (Series)
  • Jane Eyre
  • Little Women
  • The Lord of the Rings (Series)
  • Outlander (Series)
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:12 PM   #15
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Why so many children's books? Is it because most people don't read past their childhood, or else never read past childhood favorites?
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