Great American Read.
The Great American Read. Last summer, PBS introduced a public process of voting for America’s favorite novel. The first step was selecting the 100 novels eligible for votes. You can find out more about that process here.
Our take on the Great American Read list of novels
Though the list is fairly diverse, we loved the fact that many people are voting for books they read as a child or young adult. Books that influenced them at a young age.
The case is clear: reading 20 minutes or more every day really adds up!
There is no question that Cynthia considers herself an avid reader. Her high school classmates are still stunned that she became an accountant, after many teen years of burying her nose in the book of the moment. So she was surprised when she logged her personal reading list against PBS’ Great American Read list of 100 novels.
Her score? (Not that she’s competitive or anything.)
Thirty-one. Yep, that’s right. She’s read less than a third of the books on the list. How embarrassing.
Cynthia reads books assigned in our boys’ school, and loves doing it. She and our 11th grader recently read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic psychological thriller, The Scarlet Letter. And she is pounding away at Homer’s Odyssey along with our 9th grade son. For the record, neither book “counts” on the PBS Great American Read list, if anyone cares to count!
Are you voting?
Cynthia was stymied about taking the initiative to vote. How to choose? So many books (OK, just 31). But so many life-changing stories. Anne of Green Gables and The Chronicles of Narnia and Little Women were favorite books for a young girl. As a teen, Cynthia devoured Great Expectations and Jane Eyre and A Separate Peace and Pride and Prejudice. (And, really, everything by Jane Austen. Why not?)
But it was The Count of Monte Cristo that had the most impact on Cynthia in her coming-of-age years.
The victim of a miscarriage of justice, Edmund Dantes is fired by his desire for retribution, and empowered by a stroke of providence.
Looking back, Cynthia thinks the book’s impact was significant because it came at a time in her life that was tough. Being a teenager has never been easy. Things that seem small to adults are largely magnified through the lens of teenage drama.
And as Edmund Dantes learned to let go and live his own life, so did Cynthia.
Cynthia believes this book has little to no chance of winning, but she decided to be true to her own story.
Cynthia continued to read as an adult, of course, adding newer (to her) titles like The Hunger Games and The Shack and Hatchet. She also read books she somehow missed as a kid, like her mother’s favorite, To Kill a Mockingbird.
But who is Cynthia’s guess for the winner?
To be completely frank, every time one of the Harry Potter series books came out, Cynthia was in line at the store right there with the kids, buying the book and staying up all night to read it. Ignoring everyone around her.
She made reading cool for kids.
Now that’s something worth voting for.