The Great American Read is an eight-part television series celebrating and discussing America’s top 100 novels as chosen by a survey of approximately 7,200 people. Americans can vote on their favorite book once a day until the winner is revealed on October 23. Here at Pages Unbound, we’re joining the fun by reading, reviewing, and discussing some of the nominees!
Disclaimer: My favorite book ever is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I have already decided to #VOTELOTR for the Great American Read. (You can read Krysta’s post on why LotR should win here.) However, there a number of other fabulous books that have been nominated, and I want to share some reasons they might also deserve to win (or reasons you might want to read them).
1. To Kill a Mockingbird is an American book.
Technically this competition is about what books Americans love to read, not books by American authors that are great. However, you can make an argument for voting for an American book, and To Kill a Mockingbird is a strong contender. The book tackles tough issues of race in America. It explores small town living in America. It has been on American reading lists in classroom for years. When I think of “Great American Books,” To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind. (I mean, some people argue that Moby Dick by Herman Melville is the “great American epic,” but few people really enjoy reading Moby Dick.)
2. It Tackles Tough Issues
As I mentioned in the previous point, To Kill a Mockingbird tackles some tough issues, most notably issues around race and justice in the court system for people of color. Of course, the book was published in 1960, so the story doesn’t have a one-to-one correspondence to race issues today, but its messages about tolerance, justice, and bravery are still relevant today.
3. But it’s about more than race.
Obviously, the main character is Scout, a young girl growing up in a small Alabama town. The novel is often classified as “coming-of-age” fiction, and it’s also about how Scout deals with learning that the world isn’t fair and that people aren’t always who she thought–for better or for worse.
4. It’s complex but highly readable.
Yet with all the complex topics it takes on, To Kill a Mockingbird is highly readable and engaging. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like it each time I reread it. It tends to be a favorite among books “people were forced against their will to read for school.” Most people I know who have read it like it. Basically, it’s a whole package of tough questions, strong prose, engaging plot, and interesting characters.
Previous posts on the Great American Read
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
- The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupéry
- Ghost by Jason Reynolds
- Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
- The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton