The Great American Read is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). All of the books that made the list are truly great, but only one can be named The Great American Read.
Read our last post to see which 40 Books are leading the race, and find a list of my favorites listed below. If you don’t see your book, there is still time to change that. You can vote for your favorites each day until Thursday, October 18, 2018 at midnight PT, when voting closes. Click here to vote now.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
The 1984 book explores the issues of womens rights, religion, and individual liberties. Atwood conceived the novel as ‘speculative fiction,’ (similar to Louis Lowry’s The Giver), works that imagine a future that could conceivably happen without any advances in technology from the present. In other words, she said, “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” Every aspect of the book was inspired by social and political events of the early 1980s, but remains poignant because we can imagine this happening today.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a classic choice for The Great American Read because it is an archetypal representation of The American Dream: if you work hard enough, you can succeed. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his passionate obsession with a married Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
People should read The Help because it is real. Though it is a work of fiction, it is based on true events. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. Kathryn was born in 1969 in Jackson and grew up in a household with a black housekeeper. The story was based on her experiences growing up and it was just adjusted to occur in the 1960s in the midst of the civil rights movement. A beautifully written but painful story steeped in American history. It tells the story of black household workers in the South in the early 1960s—domestic helpers who take great risks by sharing stories about what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. Their tales not only reveal the great sense of empowerment that comes from sharing and having your voice heard, but also remind us of the greatness of the real women who do this work today under sometimes terrible conditions. It is a novel about empowered, heroic women taking a stand for human rights during the civil rights era. It was also adapted into a movie in 2011.