Share Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

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In case you haven’t heard, The Great American Read is a PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels. As a group of true bookworms, Off the Shelf is superexcited about this program. We’ve been talking about all of the books on the list—declaring our love for many, expressing surprise at a few, and arguing over which novel should win the vote. (You can vote for your favorite book once a day, every day for the duration of the campaign). Here are nine of our favorites.


A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
#VOTEPeaceBook

Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A SEPARATE PEACE is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. What happens between two friends one summer, much like the war itself, destroys the innocence of these boys and their world.

Read the full review of A SEPARATE PEACE.
A Separate Peace
John Knowles

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. What happens between two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Read the full review here.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 20, 2014

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By Betsy Bloom | September 8, 2014

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The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
#VOTETheHelp

In 1960s Mississippi, three women from very different walks of life risk everything to come together to tell the stories of “the help”—the black maids who work for white families. Told through alternating voices, THE HELP is a powerful tale of desperation, fortitude, and, above all, tremendous hope.
The Help
Kathryn Stockett

In 1960s Mississippi, three women from very different walks of life risk everything to come together to tell the stories of “the help”—the black maids who work for white families. Told through alternating voices, it is a powerful tale of desperation, fortitude, and, above all, tremendous hope.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

13 Significant Books on Civil Rights for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Hilary Krutt | January 14, 2016

11 Literary Servants Tell Their Own Stories

By Emma Volk | August 18, 2015

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Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry
#VOTELonesome

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, this Pulitzer Prize–winning classic is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, and always dramatic, this book will make you laugh, weep, and dream. Read the full review of LONESOME DOVE.

Read the full review of LONESOME DOVE.
Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurtry

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, this Pulitzer Prize— winning classic is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic this is a book to that will make you laugh, weep, and dream.

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The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
#VOTELovelyBones

After her death at age 12 in 1973, Susie Salmon is adjusting to her new home in heaven and watching life on earth continue without her. Her friends trade rumors about her disappearance, her killer tries to cover his tracks, and her grief-stricken family unravels. From above, Susie learns more about the man who took her life and follows her father’s search for answers.
The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

After her death in 1973, Susie Salmon is adjusting to her new home in heaven, and watching life on earth continue without her. Her friends are trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer is trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family is unraveling. From above, Susie learns more about the man who took her life, and watches as her father searches for answers.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

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By Off the Shelf Staff | October 26, 2017

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 29, 2016

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By Off the Shelf Staff | October 1, 2015

Piper’s Prison Book Club: 10 Books from Orange Is the New Black

By Hilary Krutt | July 28, 2015

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White Teeth
by Zadie Smith
#VOTEWhiteTeeth

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and coming up with everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving to Martin Amis. But the truth is that Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own.
White Teeth
Zadie Smith

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

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By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 26, 2016

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By Off the Shelf Staff | January 27, 2015

A Brilliant Debut That Continues to Enthrall

By Siriu Huang | February 27, 2014

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The Intuitionist
by Colson Whitehead
#VOTEIntuitionist

Colson Whitehead burst onto the literary scene nearly 20 years ago with the marvelously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel THE INTUITIONIST, set in the curious world of elevator inspection. With a nod to Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN, Whitehead portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies.
The Intuitionist
Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead has been much in the news these days with his latest novel, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, recently selected to be the next Oprah Book Club Pick. He burst onto the literary scene nearly 20 years ago with the marvelously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel THE INTUITIONIST, set in the curious world of elevator inspection. With a nod to Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN, Whitehead portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

5 Books to Read After You’ve Seen “Black Panther”

By Tolani Osan | February 14, 2018

15 Black Writers We Should All Be Reading in 2017

By Tolani Osan | February 23, 2017

14 Books Worth Revisiting From Today’s Best Writers

By Wendy Sheanin | August 18, 2016

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The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
#VOTEJoyLuck

In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mah-jongg, and talk—and the Joy Luck Club is born. Over the years and the births of their daughters, they become united in their shared experiences of loss and hope, choosing to gather together and raise their spirits rather than sink into despair.
The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan

In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk—and the Joy Luck Club is born. Over the years and the births of their daughters, they become united in their shared experiences of loss and hope, choosing to gather and raise their spirits rather than sink into tragedy.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

7 Unforgettable Books About Mothers and Daughters

By Susan Perabo | June 2, 2017

14 Novels That Portray Diverse and Resilient American Families

By Erica Nelson | November 24, 2016

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The Alchemist
by Paolo Coelho
#VOTEAlchemist

Paulo Coelho’s universally admired masterpiece tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who yearns to travel in search of worldly treasure. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams. With more than two million copies sold around the world, THE ALCHEMIST continues to change the lives of readers forever.
The Alchemist
Paolo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s universally admired masterpiece tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams. With more than two million copies sold around the world, The Alchemist continues to change the lives of readers forever.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

Chipotle’s Literary Salon: The Books Behind the Burritos

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | March 12, 2015

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Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden
#VOTEGeisha

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells the story of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha with exquisite lyricism. Published in 1997, with an acclaimed film adaptation released in 2005, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA remains Arthur Golden’s only novel.
Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells the story of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha with exquisite lyricism. Published in 1999, with an acclaimed film adaptation released in 2005, Memoirs of a Geisha remains Arthur Golden’s only novel.

MENTIONED IN:

Celebrate the Fourth of July with These 9 Great American Reads

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 4, 2018

Harper Lee and the One-Book Wonder Phenomenon

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 9, 2015

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