Hello everyone! I’m pretty much obsessed at this point with this PBS special/contest-thingy where America gets to vote on their favorite books from a list of 100. There are so many excellent choices and I thought I would take the time today to talk about my favorites from this list. If you have some other favorites on the list, please share! I’m hoping to work my way through a number of these books this summer!
Top Ten Favorite Books from the Great American Read
(in no particular order)
1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ever since I got into Christie as a teenager (a 7th grader, really), this one has kept me puzzled. I even taught it last year to my 8th graders and I still don’t totally get how everything it woven together. It’s genius, and every reread reveals something new I didn’t catch the time before.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book is pure gold. I reread it just about every year (I’m up to 5-6 times now) and it’s just beautiful. Everything about it is beautiful and heartfelt.
3. Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews
When my mom recommended this to me as a 7th grader, I was super weirded out by what I was reading. But this tale of abuse and incest is quite riveting. I ended up reading the whole series. In middle school. (Did I mention that I was a book nerd and pretty weird in middle school? I blame my mom. Like, at least a little, anyway.)
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The more and more I learn about Mary Shelley, the more I respect this book. It’s celebrating its 200th anniversary this year and this book was so revolutionary during its time. Not to mention everyone still knows who Frankenstein’s monster is and his basic backstory. (Did you catch my distinction between Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster? Oh, I went there.)
5. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
What more can I say about this series? It chanced the lives of an entire generation and if this doesn’t end up winning the vote, I’ll eat my hat. Then I’ll go join Dumbledore for lemon drops.
6. Looking for Alaska by John Green
While this wasn’t the John Green book I was expecting to find on this list (I’m really surprised it wasn’t The Fault in Our Stars), this was still a solid pick. It deals with some really heavy topics for teens, but some that need to be aired. And they come out with Green’s distinctive sense of humor and realism.
7. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
If I’m going to spend an entire summer reading an 8-part series of books that are all well over 1,000 pages and I’m going to cry during nearly each of the books, you can bet I’m going to be casting votes for this one.
8. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
I totally loved this series when it first came out. The action, the romance, the rebellion. But the older I get, the more realistic it seems. Someday soon, we’re all going to be those survivors in District 13, fighting back against the Capitol. In its own way, this book is also changing a generation, just like Harry Potter.
9. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
I didn’t read this until I was teaching, but I adore this book. I’ve read it 4-5 times now and it’s just genius. And the fact that Hinton was only a teenager herself when she wrote this? It’s astounding.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is another revolutionary book, and one that highlights the subtle (and not so subtle) stereotypes and racisms that are ingrained in people in America. I love that it’s told from a child’s perspective because it helps to show just how irrational stereotypes are.