Margaret Atwood, Junot Díaz, Lauren Graham, John Irving, Bill T. Jones, Devon Kennard, Gayle King, Diane Lane, George R.R. Martin and Lesley Stahl are among the impressive list of authors, celebrities and notable figures who will participate in PBS's The Great American Read, an eight-part TV series and nationwide campaign exploring "the power of books and the joy of reading through the lens of America's 100 best-loved novels, as voted on by the public." PBS will also partner with literary organizations and its nearly 350 member stations nationwide to extend the series' reach.
The ambitious initiative launches with a two-hour special event May 22, at 8 p.m. on PBS stations (check local listings). Over the course of 15 weeks this summer, viewers can read and vote on favorite works of fiction. The series then returns in the fall with additional episodes exploring the nominated books through themes like "Heroes," "Villains & Monsters," "Who Am I?," "What We Do for Love," "Other Worlds," and will conclude with a finale and countdown to "America's Best-Loved Book." The list of 100 titles, chosen from a demographically representative national survey conducted by YouGov, will be made available to the public prior to the launch episode in May.
The Great American Read is supported by an extensive multi-platform digital and social media campaign "designed to inspire Americans to read, vote and share their personal connections to titles on the top 100 list and beyond over the course of the summer," PBS noted. Additionally, working with member stations and partners, PBS will develop resources and materials to extend the campaign and encourage summer reading activities.
"From exploring the nature of good and evil to discovering a world far away from our own, books have the power to transform, to inspire and to stay with you long after the final page has been turned," said Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive & general manager, general audience programming. She added that the initiative "encourages a multi-generational dialogue about literacy in America through this search to identify America's best-loved novel."
Jane Root, founder and CEO of production company Nutopia, which is partnering with PBS on the initiative, commented: "America's love affair with books is the perfect jumping-off point for this innovative series celebrating the power of reading. We are most excited to see how this series will inspire new conversations celebrating American diversity through a literary lens."