Chapter 40 - The Great American Read
By the time this post comes out The Great American Read voting will be closing soon (October 18, 2018) for a grand finale on October 23, 2018. The Great American Read has been an eight-part series that explores the power of reading through America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It looks at how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diversity and our shared humanity.
There are books I would not have put on the list - not to be a book snob - and books which should definitely by part of it. (You can find the list here - https://dv2oc5tyj18yr.cloudfront.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2018/05/TGAR_BookChecklist.pdf). For example, I would have swapped Anna Karenina for War and Peace and included A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. But that is what makes this list so interesting - it is a compendium of America's favorites novels, not just mine.
So I have pulled some of my favorite novels from the list and offer them up to you. If you haven't read them you might start with them especially if you are going to try to conquer all 100 of the books listed!
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - Francie Nolan lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn when the book starts in 1912. Her family is different - from her father's love of alcohol to her Aunt Sissy's habit of marrying without getting a divorce first. The novel details Francie's experiences as she grows up in this place and time.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - Coehlo is a Brazilian writer who has many books to his name but my favorite is The Alchemist. Part fable, part life lesson this book is about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy. Santiago's quest leads him to riches far different than he ever imagined. The book explores how we should listen to our hearts in order to recognize opportunity.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - Geisha is a beautifully written book about Nitta Sayuri who at the age of nine is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. She learns the arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing a kimono and elaborate makeup, and hair to the art of pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist. The book is an intriguing look into the life of a geisha.
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel - This was the first of the Earth's Children series by Auel and by far, my favorite. Prehistoric nomads find a young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land. Blond, blue eyed Ayla is very different from the Clan and to them she looks ugly. Ayla is adopted and learns the ways of the Clan but there are those who see her as a threat to their existence.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - Wilde is mostly known for his plays which parodied social mores in the English Edwardian period. This novella is an excellent story about a young handsome man who, after having his portrait painted, finds that he can indulge in all sorts of depravities which no adverse effects to his looks. Sadly, his portrait, now hidden in a closet reflects his life and ultimately him.
Let me know if there are any books on the list you wouldn't select or ones you would add!
You can order these or other books at www.bookendsoneline.com.