‘The Great American Read’ nears its conclusion

The clock is ticking toward the announcement of America’s best-loved novel. “The Great American Read” will air its “Grand Finale” episode and reveal America’s choice for its number one book on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 7 p.m. on Arizona PBS.

The “Grand Finale” episode will be filmed in front of a live audience in New York City. Notable attendees will include host Meredith Vieira; actor Wil Wheaton; authors Diana Gabaldon, Robert McCammon, Markus Zusak and Amy Tan; journalist Lesley Stahl; literary expert Baratunde Thurston and more.

Since its launch in May 2018, the initiative has sparked a nationwide call to action for viewers to read as many books on the list as possible, vote on their favorite works of fiction, and share their thoughts and opinions on social media as part of a campaign to celebrate books and reading. Many readers have joined the conversation on social media, with a combined following of more than 200,000 book lovers across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. “The Great American Read” Facebook Book Club has grown to an actively engaged community of nearly 50,000 bibliophiles, and video content related to the series from PBS Digital Studios and weekly episode streams have generated 5.1 million views across PBS platforms, Facebook and Youtube. To date, more than 3.8 million votes have been cast in conjunction with “The Great American Read.”

Heading into the finale, PBS has revealed the current top 10 books in alphabetical order:

  1. Charlotte’s Web
  2. Chronicles of Narnia (series)
  3. Gone with the Wind
  4. Harry Potter (series)
  5. Jane Eyre
  6. Little Women
  7. Lord of the Rings (series)
  8. Outlander (series)
  9. Pride and Prejudice
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird

“Since the series launched in May, millions of book lovers, super fans and literary advocates from across the country have cast their vote in search of America’s Best Loved Novel,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President of Programming and Development, PBS. “Every title on our top 100 list provides a unique window into our vibrant and diverse national culture, and with less than a week left until the vote is final, it’s still anyone’s game!”

“It has been amazing to see how passionate and engaged the American audience has been with ‘The Great American Read,’” said Jane Root, Nutopia CEO and founder. “The 100 novels selected have a special place in our hearts, as they celebrate our stories and take us to new worlds. Thank you to those who have voted and will continue to do so. I have no idea which book will come out on top, as they are all so special, but we are so excited to find out America’s most loved novel.”

Throughout the voting campaign, several books on the top 100 list have made significant moves upward due to support from passionate fans. Some novels that made the biggest leaps were “Atlas Shrugged,” which catapulted from number 43 to 20; “Foundation,” which jumped from 60 to 50 on the list; and “Wheel of Time,” which started at 77 and currently stands at 61.

Many states’ top 10 lists reflect their regional pride for featured books by authors hailing from those states. For example:

  • “A Confederacy of Dunces” is currently sitting in the top 10 only in Louisiana, where the central character, Ignatius J. Reilly, lives with his mother and where the author, John Kennedy Toole, was born.
  • “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” which tells the story of a young boy growing up in a fictional Mississippi River town, was inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood home of author Mark Twain, and currently ranks in the top 10 in the state of Missouri.
  • New York ranked “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” at number 6.
  • Only New Hampshire voted “Moby Dick” into its top 10.
  • Oklahomans are proud enough of “The Outsiders” to rank it 9th on their state list.
  • “Bless Me Ultima” is currently sitting at number 4 in New Mexico.

In addition, Puerto Rico voted books by Latin authors or with Latin themes higher than anywhere else, making its top 10 significantly different from the nation’s top picks as a whole. Among its top 5 are “Don Quixote,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Doña Bárbara,” “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “The Little Prince.”

In addition, seven of the current top 10 books were written by female authors, 11 of the top 20 were written by American authors, and there are 201 years dividing the most recently published book and the oldest book in the top-ranking list.

Below are the top lists of novels by popular genres as the vote currently ranks:

Pride and Prejudice
Gone with the Wind
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights

The Stand
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Foundation (series)

Harry Potter (series)
Lord of the Rings (series)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Chronicles of Narnia (series)
Game of Thrones (series)

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