Though two hours long, the PBS program “The Great American Read,” which aired May 22, was a marvelous experience. If you missed it on tv, it is available online. Watching it was like being in a roomful of booklovers discussing their favorite books. You felt accepted and ennobled by being a part of that community. Combining insightful interviews of authors and celebrities promoting the book of their choice from the list of 100, along with some background on each book, was so inspiring that it was guaranteed to make you want to go out and read them all. (Well, almost all.) I enjoyed the rich splash of colors and the excellent visual effects. It was a very well done educational event.
Now it is time for the public to vote on the list of 100 books. The voting rules are bit incomprehensible because you can vote more than once and for many books, which in my opinion interferes with the just results. You have the entire summer to read more from the list. You can compete with friends and family to see who’s read the most. You can argue over what should be on the list and what shouldn’t. This fall the winner will be announced.
I’m starting at 37-38 books, and I did not cheat and count the ones where I saw the movie but did not read the book…though The Joy Luck Club is so similar to the book I really want to say I’ve read it, as I’ve seen the movie five or six times.
For more information and the list of books go to pbs.org/greatamericanread. It’s easy to find online.