"The Great American Read" Searches for Nation's Best-Loved Book

Sep 11, 2018

Whether it’s Asimov or Zusak, Tolstoy or Tolkein, Americans are voting for their all-time favorite book.  At 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, WKAR-TV presents “The Great American Read.”  Tonight’s episode is the first in a series of seven highlighting 100 best-loved books selected in a national survey. 


ROBIN PIZZO:

We’ve had a summer of reading and discussing and voting.  Now, this is the final push to get that most loved book by Americans throughout our nation.

KEVIN LAVERY:

What will the viewers see tonight?

PIZZO:

Tonight will be a more condensed version of the two-hour premiere that launched May 23 discussing the titles on this 100 most-loved book list, as well as some featured stars and literary experts discussing why their book should be selected.

LAVERY:

How have we in this community in mid-Michigan really built some outreach around this whole project?

PIZZO:

We’ve tried to engage our community, not only in the programming, but in the importance of falling in love with reading all over again.  Being able to discuss books, and the diversity and variety of books that are on the list is tremendous.  We’ve had even our PBS president Paula Kerger in studio to discuss her favorite book, “The Great Gatsby.”  So, just really trying to engage our entire community around literature and how it shapes us as a society and how it continues to help develop us as a people.

LAVERY:

You know, education really is the hallmark of public television, but I don’t recall such a concentrated effort on a national level in quite some time focused on literacy.  That tells me we have a literacy crisis in our country.

PIZZO:

I definitely think so.  I think whether it be with adults or within our K12 system, when we look at the data, it really speaks to a greater need for everyone to get involved in reading and the importance of it being not just something used to assess, but also something used to create community and develop humanism within us.  I just was able to view the Mark Twain documentary by Ken Burns.  There was a fabulous quote in there about his life and his legacy.  It said that as humans, we have to learn how to be human all over again, and that’s done through books.

LAVERY:

The Great American Read has now reached 2 million votes.  The initial list began with 100 books.

PIZZO:

What happened at the 2 million mark was, they released a list of the Top 40.  Now, that doesn’t mean that any book is out of the running.  We want you to really dig deep and get those votes out, because your vote still counts.  You can go to www.wkar.org to find that Top 40 list and see if your book is on that list.  If it isn’t, maybe an additional push of votes could help it get on that list.

LAVERY:

Do you have a favorite book, Robin?

PIZZO:

I do...but I’m going to keep it a secret because I don’t want to taint anyone else’s selection!