The Great American Read discussion

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The list, other books, movies > What are you surprised to see on the list?

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message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments There are a few books I'm surprised to see on the list.

Da Vinci Code, Fifty Shades of Gray, Twilight Series

I know they were popular but top 100?


message 2: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Yes those are the ones people complain about most. I can understand why people were upset about Fifty Shades, and to a lesser extent Twilight, but they were somebody's favorites. DaVinci Code was an extremely popular thriller but it also had a real interesting religious mystery to it as well, so I think it deserves to be there. It's a lot more meaningful than James Patterson's books.


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Yes, it's interesting to see that "Great American Read", for some, is defined by its ability to engage and engross, while for others, style trumps plot and entertainment. Since they didn't define it, there's no saying that we can exclude book X. I could see why people found DaVinci Code interesting, but by the end, I was feeling a bit insulted by the three-page chapters......as though he assumed his readers wouldn't have the attention span for anything longer.


message 4: by Hal (new)

Hal (halbgold) | 17 comments I will be very interested to see how the program progresses in the Fall and if another go at a Top 100 will be forthcoming next year. I can think of a number of books ( as I imagine many other do) both older and more current, that were not included in this first list. It certainly is a motivator for me to consider and perhaps read books I hadn't either gotten to, hadn't really known, or hadn't considered.
It's very enjoyable and motivating!


message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I guess I would go the other way and feel surprised by how much literary fiction there is on the list. It makes me wonder if people just remember it fondly from school or if people actually still read these books in general.


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books


message 7: by Hal (new)

Hal (halbgold) | 17 comments Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

Julie, seems very possible they are equating watching a movie with reading the book.
I also agree, Bruyere, there is little non-fiction and quite a number of authors of only recent vintage showing what I would say is recency bias.


message 8: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I've read some of the popular non-fiction over the past few years and just didn't find it that good. I guess I view it as good for a TED talk, but not enough content for a book. I only seem to read memories of comedians, which is probably lame of me.


message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments I think the rules said fiction only. Some of them like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre I've seen so many movie depictions, I don't remember if I've read the book or not.

The literary titles are the ones that I want to read. I could care less about Twilight a or Fifty Shades.


message 10: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 1 comments Twilight and Their Eyes Were Watching God. I probably shouldn't be surprised TEWWG was on there but I can't stand that book and Twilight because like why. WHYYYYY?


message 11: by Linda (last edited Jun 11, 2018 09:51AM) (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Bruyere wrote: "I guess I would go the other way and feel surprised by how much literary fiction there is on the list. It makes me wonder if people just remember it fondly from school or if people actually still r..."

Yes, some of us still "read those things in general"...almost exclusively.....:)


message 12: by Linda (last edited Jun 15, 2018 07:06PM) (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

You read my mind. Between the TV series and MeToo, I predict the winner will be "Handmaiden's Tale"


message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Patrick wrote: "Twilight and Their Eyes Were Watching God. I probably shouldn't be surprised TEWWG was on there but I can't stand that book and Twilight because like why. WHYYYYY?"

Democracy, my friend :) Though not even this group will get me to read it.


message 14: by Hal (new)

Hal (halbgold) | 17 comments Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

You read my mind. I predict. Between the TV series and MeToo, I predict the winner will be "Handmaiden's Tale""

Yes, I could see that happening. Perhaps excluding books that have been also movies or TV series for the past 5 years could reduce this from happening, plus by requiring a wait it reduces the likely recency bias of some of those chosen.


message 15: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) @Linda - I'm impressed!

I've finally realized that I dislike a lot of fantasy and should stop torturing myself by trying to read it. I should infuse more literature so I'm less pissy on GR.


message 16: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

You read my mind. I predict. Between the TV series and MeToo, I predict the winner will be "Handmaiden's Tale""


Oh I hope not. Because of all the hoopla I decided to reread that one and so far I'm wondering how I got through it the first time.


message 17: by Celia (new)

Celia (cinbread19) Definitely Fifty Shades of Gray.


message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Bruyere wrote: "@Linda - I'm impressed!

I've finally realized that I dislike a lot of fantasy and should stop torturing myself by trying to read it. I should infuse more literature so I'm less pissy on GR."



Haha, I'm still pissy on GR these days, but it's not because of literature! :D And no, I don't think literature has to be old to be appreciated. I was floored by Coetzee's "Disgrace". Read it a few years ago, still thinking about it.


message 19: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I'm often the person on book clubs saying I didn't like the group read. Some clubs have a real bad reaction to anyone disliking the book! There's nothing more boring than being on a read thread where everyone is gushing in vague terms about the book.

The thing is - there's several books on the list that I didn't like and thought were garbage, but I know a lot of people liked it. So not really surprising.


message 20: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Yes, it's interesting to see that "Great American Read", for some, is defined by its ability to engage and engross, while for others, style trumps plot and entertainment. Since they didn't define i..."

Well as I recall, I was reading it on a plane, and I was happy that it kept my attention. My expectations weren't terribly high.

One things surprises me much more than these books showing up on a favorites list... according to a graphic that pops up all over goodreads, DaVinci Code is one of the top 10 most widely read books (of all time?), along with The Bible, Gone with the Wind, The Alchemist, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Twilight saga, and others.


message 21: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 11, 2018 03:48PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Hal wrote: "Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

Julie, seems very possible they are equating watching a movie with reading the book.
I also agree, Bruyere, there is li..."



It's only intended to include novels, so non-fiction, biographies, the Bible, and many other books are specifically excluded.

I agree that movies and recency were likely to influence whether a book came into someone's mind when asked "what is your favorite book." We have a lot of information in our brains, but some of it is hard to access at a moment's notice.


FYI. Here is a classic article that helps understand how people think. The article is much easier to read than the title:

Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
Amos Tversky1, Daniel Kahneman1
See all authors and affiliations

Science 27 Sep 1974:
Vol. 185, Issue 4157, pp. 1124-1131
DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4157.1124


message 22: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 11, 2018 03:52PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Bruyere wrote: "I've read some of the popular non-fiction over the past few years and just didn't find it that good. I guess I view it as good for a TED talk, but not enough content for a book. I only seem to read..."

I agree. I rarely read a non-fiction book in it's entirety. There are usually some really important points, and the rest is filler to make it a book. I posted an article on another thread that provides the core concepts in a later book with a similar title.


message 23: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 13, 2018 08:40PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

You read my mind. I predict. Between the TV series and MeToo, I predict the winner..."


The BBC winners were Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice.

When I was on twitter, there seemed to be more tweets about Outlander than any others. It has a lot of fans online. Jane Austen fans are also well organized online so P& P is getting a lot of tweets too.


message 24: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "Julie wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Julie wrote: "Or if people are voting for the movies instead of the books"

You read my mind. I predict. Between the TV series and MeToo, I pred..."


well, I understand that the show (and the actor's bum) are quite popular.........


message 25: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Yes, it's interesting to see that "Great American Read", for some, is defined by its ability to engage and engross, while for others, style trumps plot and en..."

well, then, he's laughing all the way to the Swiss bank, he can live anywhere in the world he wants.....except Seville. They don't want him back there.


message 26: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments I'd be happy with those results. I'd be happy with Outlander too - that was probably the first one that came to mind when I thought about my favorite book. (And yes I have read all of them - some of them more than once.)

But asking that is like asking my favorite album. Like i have to pick one?


message 27: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments Asking me to pick my favourite book is like asking me to pick my favourite child! There are books I read over and over and recommend to anyone who'll listen. Many of them didn't make the list, but I hold them dear to my heart.


message 28: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments NancyJ wrote: "Bruyere wrote: "I've read some of the popular non-fiction over the past few years and just didn't find it that good. I guess I view it as good for a TED talk, but not enough content for a book. I o..."

I love a good meaty non-fiction book. The last one I read was "So You Want to Talk about Race" and it was chock-full of information. Most of my non-fiction reading is for research and thus quite esoteric (not really what you'd call popular. At all).


message 29: by Nyla (new)

Nyla Panzilius (nylap) | 38 comments Bruyere wrote: "I'm often the person on book clubs saying I didn't like the group read. Some clubs have a real bad reaction to anyone disliking the book! There's nothing more boring than being on a read thread whe..."

At my local library book club, we often find that we have the best discussions about the books we DIDN'T like! I am fortunate to be a part of a group that respects all people's opinions, and that can see merit in a book, even if they don't necessarily like it.


message 30: by Nyla (new)

Nyla Panzilius (nylap) | 38 comments I certainly don't want to offend anyone by "knocking" their favorite book. But I was surprised that the list included so many books with no real connection to America. I guess I had been thinking of "The Great AMERICAN Read" in terms of books with an American connection; either set in America, about America, or written by an American/American immigrant.
I do concede that many of the books which would be excluded by these narrower parameters are still, of course, fantastic works of literature. Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Harry Potter; these are among my favorite books ever. Conversely, some of the other books on the list which do fit this narrower definition of "American" have me shaking my head, because I just don't see that they are of good quality or wide appeal.
I guess the bottom line is that Americans do love these books, and that alone warrants their inclusion on this list. I'm not against that, by any means, but I was just surprised by it.


message 31: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Nyla wrote: "I certainly don't want to offend anyone by "knocking" their favorite book. But I was surprised that the list included so many books with no real connection to America. I guess I had been thinking o..."

That was my first reaction, too.........:"Wait! This one's Russian! This one's English!" But then I realized that the "Great American Read" isn't a reference to the book's country of origin, but rather to the fact that the event has America reading (again?)

The British version also had books from many countries.

My admiration always goes to Conrad (even though I don't remember enjoying Nostromo in college), because the man was writing in a language other than his native language. Most impressive.


message 32: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Nyla wrote: "Bruyere wrote: "I'm often the person on book clubs saying I didn't like the group read. Some clubs have a real bad reaction to anyone disliking the book! There's nothing more boring than being on a..."

I used to get frustrated with a couple of people in a book club who would only read things on their bookshelves, and weren't open to new things. Yes, I've often, in f2f book clubs, read things that I didn't like and make me want those hours of my life back. But that's the point of a book club--you read things that you might not have known about otherwise. But you'll get some gems, too. Some people just focus on the duds, and not the gems.

That being said, there are certain authors that I've read 4 or 5 times (different works), and I know I won't be wasting my time with any further works.


message 33: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I agree - for local book club I'm much more open to reading whatever people agree to.

Favorite reads definitely change over time. I remember that The Sun Also Rises was one of my favorites in my 20s and I don't even remember why now! Also, there's my favorite in general books - amazing prose, interesting ideas, etc. Then there's the ones that just gave me "all the feels." :)


message 34: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote:

"well, then, he's laughing all the way to the Swiss bank, he can live anywhere in the world he wants.....except Seville. They don't want him back there..."


Hold on, I think I missed something juicy... Who are we talking about? (Who's bum? Who's Swiss bank account? Who can't go to Seville? )


message 35: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Actor in The Outander
Dan Brown--he made tons of money.............not advised to go back to Seville. They're still mad that he wrote what he did.


message 36: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 13, 2018 09:34PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Actor in The Outander
."


Och aye, tis a crakin' bahookie


message 37: by Julie (new)

Julie Lewis (riobrewster) | 22 comments NancyJ wrote:
."

Och aye, tis a crakin' bahookie"


LOL! I have to agree. The Outlander show is very good. But as always, the books are better.


message 38: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Actor in The Outander
."

Och aye, tis a crakin' bahookie"


"The only thing better than Jamie in a kilt?
Jamie out of a kilt". Saw this on a t-shirt. Want it badly.


message 39: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments you guys almost make me wish I had premium cable channels. :P


message 40: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "you guys almost make me wish I had premium cable channels. :P"

I don't. We buy the season on DVD to watch at our leisure.



message 41: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) That's why I haven't seen it. I wish they would add the channel to Hulu subscription. I get to just pay extra for HBO and have it all together.


message 42: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments It should be available at your local library. I buy them because I know I'll be watching them more than once (and also we can take our time). We discuss the episodes after we've seen them (both of us are history nerds and as Scottish history is one of my specialties, he usually has questions about that).


message 43: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments I´m surprised to see ¨Doña Bárbara¨ on the list. Not because it´s not quality literature-it is. It's just that it's one of those books that most Americans wouldn't know about. García Márquez, sure. Borges, sure. But most people don´t know that one. I'd be curious to know which of their "industry experts" suggested that one. Happy they did, though.


message 44: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) Parker wrote: "It should be available at your local library. I buy them because I know I'll be watching them more than once (and also we can take our time). We discuss the episodes after we've seen them (both of ..."

Yes, I should check the library! My library has a mysteriously bad way of storing DVDs. It's just kinda in this bin in envelopes.


message 45: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 15, 2018 09:52AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I´m surprised to see ¨Doña Bárbara¨ on the list. Not because it´s not quality literature-it is. It's just that it's one of those books that most Americans wouldn't know about. García Márquez, sure...."

All the books were picked by surveying normal people, but they used a research company to make sure that the survey population was representative of the US as a whole. There are a lot of Spanish speaking people in the US, and contrary to what Trump thinks, many of them read more books than he does.

I'm still trying to remember all the categories they used when they presented the books on the show. Spiritual/Religion. Gay/LGBTQ. African/African American. Classics. Speculative, Sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian (in one or more groupings). YA.

Other nationalities or the immigrant experience? What else?


message 46: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Sure, but there was that "advisory board of 13 literary professionals".
to cull the selections.

Because Doña Bárbara is kind of an 'older' book........it's one of those classics like "War and Peace" or "Ulysses"(okay, not quite that challenging) that a lot of people never make it through, or even think to pick up. So even in the world of Spanish speakers, it's an uncommon choice (that's why I don't question Garcia Marquez, because he's known both in and out of the Spanish-speaking world, and Quixote, being the first modern novel, has its place, too).


message 47: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennyftb) | 3 comments In addition to some of those already mentioned (Twilight, 50 Shades), I was surprised to find the Left Behind series, and Flowers in the Attic on the list. I don't think I made it through the first LB book before tossing it aside. And while I devoured the V.C. Andrews FitA series as a teen, it surprises me that it was included on the List.

I was also surprised to find some books/authors I had never heard of...Bless Me, Ultima, Mind Invaders, & The Wheel of Time Series, and that the Sirens of Titan was the Vonnegut selection chosen.

I wasn't surprised to find two of my 2 of my top 5 favs on the list...Their Eyes Were Watching God (audio version - that's the key to enjoying this one, IMO), and A Prayer for Owen Meany.


message 48: by Linda (new)

Linda  | 915 comments Jennifer wrote: "In addition to some of those already mentioned (Twilight, 50 Shades), I was surprised to find the Left Behind series, and Flowers in the Attic on the list. I don't think I made it through the first..."

I've got "Their Eyes" on my list, will keep that in mind. I've never listened to an audio book before, might give it a try.


message 49: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 15, 2018 07:09PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Sure, but there was that "advisory board of 13 literary professionals".
to cull the selections.

Because Doña Bárbara is kind of an 'older' book........it's one of those classics like "War and Pe..."


Oh yes, I forgot about that. That must be the group that decided which book to include when there were several nominees for an author. I still wonder why they chose Sirens of Titans rather than Slaughterhouse 5. I think they were playing it safe when they chose Tom Sawyer over Huck Finn (though TS is my personal favorite). I hope they opted for literary quality and popularity rather than playing it safe politically. I hope they didn't add books that didn't do well in the surveys, just to represent a certain theme or viewpoint. If Dona Barbera was a time tested classic (and perhaps taught in schools in other cultures or subcultures) then I suspect it earned its spot fairly.


message 50: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 15, 2018 07:06PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Bruyere wrote: "I agree - for local book club I'm much more open to reading whatever people agree to.

Favorite reads definitely change over time. I remember that The Sun Also Rises was one of my favorites in my 2..."


I think I might have liked Hemingway more in the my 20's than I would now, with his take life by the balls (or is it "horns") attitude. (Now, after reading a book about him, I think he was a sexist jerk.)

Which ones gave you "all the feels?"


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