OK–so, many of you are coming in talking about the Great American Read, the summer-long PBS series celebrating America's favorite novels. It's a reading initiative to get folks motivated to check out the 100 works of fiction a survey found Americans love best, and it launched last week with a 2-hour tv show and the release of the list (see below). The idea is to get everyone to their local independent bookstore to buy 😉 and read some titles you may not have heard of or read yet, but that your fellow Americans like very much. There is a summer-long nation-wide online vote and on October 23 a winning book will be announced. 

I have a unique gift – I can make everyone feel better about themselves because on any topic I have a story such that I (usually) or someone I know (only rarely necessary) has done something more numbskull, dumb or embarrassing.  So in that vein, I wanted to share with you my experience of going through the Great American Read list of 100 books - because even though I was an English major and own a bookstore I pretty much felt like an idiot. Never one to wallow, I began coming up with excuses for WHY I couldn't actually check off a book on the list, and really after a while I almost began thinking that there really should be a "kind of, could have, almost have read" check-list. So, unless you're feeling smug because you've read 85 of these (Wendy Durkin, I know you have), I'm here to make you feel better, because here are my almost-read categories:

  1. Books I feel like I've read because they were school assignments for my kid and were lying around the house for months (e.g. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy);
  2. Books I bought twice for my kids' assignments because "we" lost them and I was blamed for tidying the house and moving them (too many to admit to);
  3. Books I was assigned in school and started but didn't finish but got a good grade on the paper anyway (e.g. Moby Dick);
  4. The category of "OK, I haven't read THAT book but I've read others by that author so I can sort of check that one ... " (e.g. The Stand by Stephen King);
  5. Books I ambitiously started when in the midst of crazy career or child-rearing throes and I either lost them on the train or they got spit-up on (e.g. Lonesome Dove);
  6. Books I didn't finish in time for bookclub but never went back for some reason (e.g. Frankenstein);
  7. Books where I saw the movie and people said it was better than the book (e.g. The Godfather);
  8. Books where I liked the movie and I have no excuse for not reading the book (yet, e.g. The Help);
  9. Book that I feel like I've read because someone I know talks about it a lot (e.g. Ready Player One);
  10. Books I feel like I should get multiple credits for because of how many times I've read them over my long lifetime (e.g. at least 5x Pride and Prejudice);
  11. Then there's this: "Dang, how embarrassing, I'd never heard of it much less almost read-it ... " (Foundation by Isaac Asimov); and
  12. And this confession: "Dang, there's a lot of science fiction on this list, maybe the rest of America is on to something, I better get going on that genre".

There now - I've made you feel better haven't I?? Never fear, fans of Prairie Path Books, I counted 47 that I've read and finished, and between Jenny, me and our PPB readers we've got them all I reckon. With or without this listJane Eyre is my favorite book of all time for a lot of reasons but really high up there is her moral certainty and self-knowledge even in destitution and despair (my girls call Jane "badass"); for Jenny, it's Charlotte's Web because she's never forgotten the enchanting characters and how hard she cried when SPOILER ... Charlotte died. What's yours?? Come in and share, won't you and please bring your list whether filling it out made you feel proud or not — I'm here for you.



The Great American Read Quiz

The Great American Read