Designed to spark a national conversation about reading, literacy and the books that have inspired, moved and shaped us, The Great American Read is an eight-part PBS series and competition that explores the joy of books and the power of reading through the lens of America’s 100 best-loved books, as voted on by the public.
The project will explore how writers create their imaginary worlds, how we as readers are deeply affected by these stories and what these 100 very different books have to say about our diverse nation, the making of a modern culture and our shared human experience.
Read. Vote. Watch.
The list of 100 books, which were selected via a demographically representative national survey, spans five centuries, from Don Quixote (1603) to Ghost (2016). Authors from 15 different countries are represented, with genres ranging from beloved children’s classics such as Charlotte’s Web to modern bestsellers such as Harry Potter. Find out more info on how this list was created on pbs.org.
We’ve gathered the 100 books into a list, all available for checkout at your library. Is your favorite on the list? Be sure to take the quiz to see how many of the 100 books you’ve already read, and print out a checklist of the books if you’d like to try to read more as the series progresses.
Between May 23-September 13, library visitors will have the chance to vote for your favorite title at any Charlotte Mecklenburg Library location via ballot boxes. Each location will send their votes to Main Library, and then votes will be sent to PBS Charlotte to be tallied and submitted to PBS for the final count. Keep an eye out for the ballot boxes at your local library, and please vote!
The Great American Read premieres on PBS Charlotte May 23 at 8 p.m. EST. The series will begin again in September, airing through October, when the grand finale episode will air October 24 at 8 p.m. EST.
(Note: PBS Charlotte airs episodes one day after episodes air on PBS)
Here is a breakdown of the episodes in case you’d like to tune in:
Episode 1: Wednesday, May 23 @ 8 p.m.
This two-hour launch episode celebrates the power, passion and joy of reading through the lens of America’s 100 best-loved books as chosen by the public.
Episode 2: Wednesday, September 12 @ 8 p.m.
After a summer of reading as many of the books on the list as you can, watch this one-hour recap of the list and gain an understanding of why these 100 books matter to us and how they affect, connect and reflect us as Americans.
Episode 3-7: September 19/September 26/October 3/October 10/October 17 @ 8 p.m.
These one-hour episodes take a deeper dive into books on the list, connected by a common theme. Advocates will share heartfelt testimonials of how their relationship with a particular book has changed their lives.
Episode 8: Wednesday, October 24 @ 8 p.m.
The grand finale includes a countdown of America’s top ten favorites as the excitement builds to the announcement of the best-loved book.
And if you can't get enough of The Great American Read, join us for a program or two!
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is partnering with PBS Charlotte to ensure Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s voice is heard in this nationwide competition. Check out some of the books on the list and be sure to vote at one of our 20 locations across the County through September.
The Great American Read is made possible by the Anne Ray Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.