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Introducing the 'Great American Read' and 100 Best-Loved Novels

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Margaret Atwood (Courtesy of PBS )

If you were asked to name a novel that changed your life, what would you say?

The Great American Read, a new eight-part PBS series and nationwide campaign that explores the joy of books, will travel the country to find America’s best-loved novel.

“The power of reading is extraordinary,” says host Meredith Vieira, author and 14-time Emmy Award winner. “It allows us to escape to new worlds, introduces us to a diverse range of people, opens our minds to different ideas, and allows us to keep learning no matter our age or background.”

Produced by PBS in partnership with Nutopia, The Great American Read explores the power of literature through the lens of America’s 100 best-loved novels, as chosen by viewers. An announcement of all 100 books — selected from a demographically representative national survey — will be made available to the public on Friday, April 20. See the list here.


The launch episode of The Great American Read airs on May 22 at 8pm on KQED 9. Voting will open in tandem with the two-hour premiere and will continue throughout the summer, leading up to the grand finale in October 2018, when America’s most beloved book will be chosen.

To spark conversation about the books that have shaped us, both as individuals and as a society, viewers will hear from a variety of sources about what the novels on the top-100 list can tell us about our diverse nation, our shared values, our cultural identities, and the common themes that tie us together. A star-studded cast of beloved authors, celebrities, and notable figures — including Margaret Atwood, Chelsea Clinton, Junot Díaz, Morgan Freeman, George R. R. Martin, Shaquille O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gabrielle Union — will share their personal stories and connections with their favorite titles.

KQED will celebrate the love of literature with special programming this summer. Listen to Perspectives segments dedicated to how books changed the lives of Bay Area residents and tune in to Forum for intimate chats with local authors to discover their literary inspirations and personal favorites. Also, stay tuned for special Great American Read coverage from KQED Arts, KQED Science, KQED Food, and more.

Visit pbs.org/greatamericanread to cast your vote starting Tues., May 22, and share your favorite titles from the list of top 100 books on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #GreatReadPBS.

The Great American Read premieres Tues., May 22, at 8pm on KQED 9.

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