I had heard about this show on social media (and also from my mother-in-law). It was on PBS Tuesday night and hosted by Meredith Vieira. The premise of this is that there is a list of 100 books and through voting by the public, the top book will be announced in the fall.
I am a fan of anything that gets people reading, talking about books and that encourages literacy. So when I heard about this I was intrigued.
During the show, people (mostly celebrities) talked about their favourite book and pitched why you should vote for it. What struck me the most was that no one spoke about the crispness of the writing or the literary tricks that the author performed. What made people love these books was that while reading it, they felt understood. The stories and the characters connected with the reader on a personal level. Maybe that is super simple and should be obvious. But I had never heard that many people speak about so many different books, yet use the same language and passion to describe them.
Not to sound cliche, but we need books and art now more than ever. Between the world seemingly coming apart at the seams and being barraged with social media, we as humans need to slow down and take a breath. What better way to do that than by sitting down and reading about other characters, worlds and experiencing the world through someone else’s eyes for a while. I think this builds compassion, empathy and helps to renew our faith in humanity. Wait, that sounds pretentious and lofty. So just ignore that last part.
I feel like there is a lot more to unpack about this initiative. And as someone who is always hunting for blog post ideas, I will save those thoughts for another post.
If you haven’t checked it out, I would suggest you take a peek. You can find the website here: The Great American Read.
As an aside, the most shocking thing for me about the show was learning that George R.R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) was not British. He’s from New Jersey. I am forever changed.