Hey America, time to vote for your all-time best reads

To vote for your favorite in PBS’ The Great American Read, go to pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/. Voting is open through September, the winner will be announced in the fall.

As per tradition, my family and I spent Memorial Day weekend in a couple of rented cabins at Watoga State Park.

For most people — my family members included — such a trip marks a chance to get out and enjoy nature, be it a bike ride, a hike on the trails, floating down the Greenbrier River on an inner tube.

Or, just sitting in a lawn chair in the grass, allowing the bees to buzz and the breeze to blow around their faces.

Not me.

Nope, this fan of the great indoors instead sees it as an opportunity to read pretty much nonstop for a solid two to three days without interruption. Save a nap or two.

I mean, what could be more glorious, really?

Since I first learned how to do it, reading has been my favorite pastime. More than movies. More than shopping. Maybe even more than petting dogs. (Maybe.)

So I was super excited when I heard about PBS’ The Great American Read. Any excuse to talk about books and encourage my fellow bibliophiles to do the same is A-OK with me.

In case you haven’t heard about it yet, The Great American Read is a pro-reading project launched by PBS in an effort to discover the country’s best-loved book.

Based on previous surveys, the folks at public broadcasting have created a list of the 100 most popular novels in America. Now, it’s up to us to vote for our favorites, until, ultimately, they’ve narrowed it down to a single No. 1.

The 100 List is fairly diverse, containing everything from serious literature to downright fluff.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” series, anyone?

Yeah, me neither, but hey. America has spoken, I guess.

For my taste, there are at least a dozen strong contenders, ranging from Stephen King’s “The Stand,” to Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” to Jane Austen’s amazing “Pride & Prejudice.”

Other treasured stories of mine that made the list include Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web,” John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” Wilson Rawls’ “Where the Red Fern Grows” and Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.”

Other solid picks: Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” and Harper Lee’s timeless classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

And, of course, perhaps the greatest literary adventure of all time — and the most likely to win out in the end, in my opinion — J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Then there are the titles on the list that give me weird feels — books I like, for various reasons, but that I wouldn’t exactly call good (never mind great). “The Clan of the Cave Bear” and “Flowers in the Attic,” for instance. (I blame nostalgia.)

And I’m a bit bummed to see some of my favorites missing — “The Fountainhead,” “The Thornbirds,” In Cold Blood,” and “The Shadow of the Wind,” to name a few.

Still, it’ll be super difficult to narrow my choice down to just one.

I can tell you, without a doubt, though, that should the aforementioned “Fifty Shades” take the top spot, or “Twilight,” or “The Notebook,” I may swear off PBS, and possibly Americans, forever.

But I will never, ever stop reading.

After all, as George RR Martin (whose “A Game of Thrones” is on the list) once said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”


And he doesn’t even have to go outside to do it.

Katie McDowell is a lifestyles writer/copy editor for The Dominion Post. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.

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