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Did you watch “The Great American Read”?

Holly Viers • Nov 2, 2018 at 2:30 PM

A couple months back, I heard about a new television series on PBS called “The Great American Read.”

If you haven’t heard of it, the show is described as “an eight-part series that explored and celebrated the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey).”

The series, which concluded on Oct. 23, consisted of documentary segments and testimonials from celebrities, authors and others from across the country. While the show was running, viewers were invited to go online and vote for their favorite novel or series out of 100 choices, with the winner being announced during the last episode.

In the end, Americans chose “To Kill a Mockingbird” as their best-loved book. Finalists were the “Outlander” series, the “Harry Potter” series, “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Lord of the Rings” series.

I’ve read the last three selections on that list, but I’ve never read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or the “Outlander” series. The first has been on my must-read list for many months, while I only recently heard about the second.

In case you’re like me and have never read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” here’s a summary from Encyclopedia Britannica: “The story takes place in a small Alabama town in the 1930s and is told predominately from the point of view of six-to-nine-year-old Jean Louise ("Scout") Finch. She is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a white lawyer hired to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. A coming-of-age story of an intelligent, unconventional girl, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ portrays Scout’s growing awareness of the hypocrisy and prejudice present in the adult world.”

Millions of copies of the novel have been sold since its publication in the 1960s. Though I haven’t read the novel, I wasn’t at all surprised by its selection as the top pick, as I’ve heard multiple positive reviews of it over the years.

I was a bit surprised by “Outlander” finishing as runner-up. Before “The Great American Read,” I knew next to nothing about the series, but I’ve since learned that it’s essentially a mashup of historical fiction, time travel, romance and adventure. I’m normally not a fan of historical fiction, but the time travel and romance aspects piqued my interest.

Several other well-known novels made the top 10, including “Gone with the Wind,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Little Women” and the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Even a few pop culture favorites, such as “The Hunger Games,” “The Twilight Saga” and the “Game of Thrones” book series, made the top-100 list.

So, do you agree with America’s vote for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or would you have selected a different work? Email me your thoughts at hviers@timesnews.net.

Holly Viers is a general assignment reporter for the Kingsport Times News.

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