“The Great American Read,” a new PBS series and multi-platform initiative that celebrates the joy of reading and the books people love, will launch with a two-hour premiere episode Tuesday, May 22, at 7 p.m.
Hosted by television personality and journalist Meredith Vieira, the program will introduce viewers to a list of America’s 100 favorite novels selected through a demographically representative national survey conducted by YouGov. The series will also feature interviews with celebrities, authors, super fans and everyday Americans discussing the way particular books have influenced them and the significance in American popular culture.
Throughout the summer the multi-platform initiative will feature live public events, social media components and national reading clubs. The series will resume in the fall with several themed episodes, including an exciting finale, culminating in the first-ever national vote to choose America’s Best-Loved Novel. It will be the most expansive national celebration of books and reading ever created, aimed at engaging multi-generational readers across multiple platforms.
The top 100 book list is based on a public opinion poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of PBS for “The Great American Read,” that asked respondents to name their favorite novel. An advisory panel of book industry professionals compiled the results. Each author was represented only once, and series such as the “Alex Cross Mysteries” were included as one entry.
The chosen books span five centuries, from “Don Quixote” (1603) to “Ghost” (2016). Authors from 15 different countries are represented, with genres ranging from beloved children’s classics such as “Charlotte’s Web” to modern bestsellers such as “Twilight.”
Voting will open with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode on May 22 and continue throughout the summer, leading up to the grand finale in October 2018. Over the summer, viewers will be able to vote at aetn.org/greatamericanread and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter using #GreatReadPBS. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their vote toll free by phone and through SMS texting.
Authors, celebrities and notables joining the search for America’s Best-Loved Novel include Diana Gabaldon, George Lopez, Seth Meyers, Junot Diaz, Lauren Graham, John Green, John Irving, Bill T. Jones, Devon Kennard, Gayle King, George R.R. Martin, Wynton Marsalis, Lesley Stahl, Ming-Na
Whether it’s rediscovering an old favorite or engaging with a new title, “The Great American Read” will encourage people to read as many novels as they can from the top 100 list; discuss them in virtual and community events organized by AETN, libraries and book reading clubs; and vote all summer for their favorites. The campaign will culminate in a list of America’s favorite works of fiction and, ultimately, America’s No. 1 novel.
Funding for “The Great American Read” is provided by The Anne Ray Foundation and PBS. In addition, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has provided grants, in partnership with PBS, to public media stations across the country to create local content and host screenings and forums to encourage summer reading and participation in the initiative.
“The Great American Read” is a production of Nutopia for PBS. The program is executive produced by Jane Root, Michael Cascio, Bob Kirsh and Charles Marquardt; co-executive produced by Rebecca Ratliff Cameron; line produced by Rachael Jerahian; and produced by Nilam Agrawal-Desai, Katherine Linton, Kate Chumley, Justine Simonson, Michelle Smawley, Siobhan Lockhart, Annie Wong and Tomek Gross. Bill Gardner, VP of Programming and Development, is executive in charge for PBS and Bethany Latham is project director.
“The Great American Read”
100 Book List:
**Denotes a series title