Since the launch of PBS’s The Great American Read—a series that explores the power of reading—the book lovers at Off the Shelf can’t help but wonder which of America’s 100 beloved novels will be named the greatest American read. Though we can’t say—even collectively—we’ve covered every title on the list, there are plenty that will get our vote! Here are 10 of our favorites.
Vote for your favorite novel once a day here: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/
Renowned hip-hop artist, political activist, and bestselling author Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life in a powerful and utterly unforgettable first novel about ghetto-born Winter—the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family.
Jason Reynold's award-winning novel follows the titular protagonist Ghost, the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team. Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons. Then he meets his ex-Olympic medalist coach, who is determined to keep him and the other kids from blowing their shots at life.
National Book Award winner Jason Reynolds is a dynamic and essential voice on race in the YA space. The first installment of his Track series, GHOST follows the titular character who wants to be the fastest sprinter on his middle-school track team…but he lacks formal training and “ghosts” on all of his problems. Then Ghost meets his ex-Olympic medalist coach, who is determined to keep him and the other kids from blowing their shots at life.
The classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian, who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the army. A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
The classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the Army: a man is considered insane if he is willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
Widely considered the Great American Novel, GONE WITH THE WIND explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are both masterworks of imaginative literature that have been thrillingly translated to the screen, but for my taste, I’ll go with Gone with the Wind. Like the Stark family and the residents of Hogwarts, Scarlett and Rhett are such vivid characters on the page that you can’t imagine them being portrayed adequately on film—until suddenly, there they are, each work only enhancing your enjoyment of the other.
A time-traveling British nurse finds romance and adventure in eighteenth-century Scotland in this addictive modern classic that spans centuries and continents.
Read the full review of OUTLANDER.
The relationship that blossoms from friendship to love between Claire and Jamie is, well, pretty swoon-worthy. Claire is confident with a lot of spunk and Jamie is hotheaded with a lot of heart. The combination of these two could be a recipe for disaster, but they—usually—are in harmony.
Read Kara O’Rourke’s review here.
Read Kara O’Rourke’s review here.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate, he finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive.
Read the full review of THE MARTIAN.
Stuck on Mars after a space mission gone awry, astronaut Mark Watney makes a desperate bid to survive despite near-impossible odds. The adaptation stars Matt Damon, who has some experience with stranded spacemen—he was in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar just last year. But don’t get the two tales confused: according to Damon himself, The Martian is “totally f****** different.”
Release date: October 2, 2015
An apocalyptic classic, Stephen King's novel is a vision of a world ravaged by plague and caught in a bitter struggle between good and evil. When a patient escapes from a biological testing facility, carrying with him a strain of super-flu that destroys a majority of the population, two surviving leaders emerge. Whoever is chosen will lead—and change—humanity forever.
An apocalyptic classic, Stephen King’s novel is a vision of a world ravaged by plague and caught in a bitter struggle between good and evil. When a patient escapes from a biological testing facility, carrying with him a strain of super-flu that destroys a majority of the population, two surviving leaders emerge. Whoever is chosen will lead—and change—humanity forever.
A milestone in American literature, this novel about the social and intellectual issues facing African Americans in the early twentieth century has engaged readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for 16 weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.
Read the full review of INVISIBLE MAN.
A milestone in American literature, this novel has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. Ralph Ellison was awarded in 1969.
A captivating and widely heralded novel, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is the improbable story of a 15-year-old boy with autism and his investigation into the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog.
Now adapted into a Tony Award-winning play, this captivating novel is told through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. This powerful story of his quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for a captivating read.
Seconds before the Earth is demolished, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect—a researcher for the revised edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Together this dynamic pair begins an exhilarating journey through space.
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!