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5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

Last Tuesday, the premier of The Great American Read aired on PBS. Did you catch it? If not, you missed out on a whirlwind two hours of nonstop book talk! Meredith Vieira hosted the event and took viewers through America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). I thought two hours of book talk would be a long, drawn-out affair...but it was the opposite! They moved so quickly though the books that I could barely keep up between listening, taking notes, and tweeting my reactions! I don't often live-tweet so I'm not very good at it, but it was fun to interact with other viewers and read about their thoughts on the program! After watching the premier (other episodes will air this Fall) I came away with 5 books I want to read, either new to me or ones I want to revisit.

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

HBL Note: This one was recommended by Sarah Jessica Parker, one of the celebrity readers I often take book suggestions from via Instagram. She said it was a book you can read over and over again while showing her well-worn copy with dog-eared pages. This is one of 40 books in the top 100 that are set outside of the United States.

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

From the publisher:

Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe's critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa's cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man's futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political andreligious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.

With more than 20 million copies sold and translated into fifty-seven languages, Things Fall Apart provides one of the most illuminating and permanent monuments to African experience. Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village, he conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.

2. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

HBL Note: It was the description of this book that caught my attention. About two young boys: one an athlete battling insecurities and another a boy with stunted growth who believes he is God's instrument. That is all I remember about what was said regarding this book, I can't even remember who nominated it. But it stuck out to me and now I want to read it!

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

From the publisher:

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

3. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

HBL Note: Many of the books on the Great American Read list are heavy reads, some described as leaving the reader "heartbroken." I don't often want to be left heartbroken, so I was relieved when Seth Meyers recommended Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, describing it as a "bitterly ironic and very funny tale." Now THAT sounds like a book I would enjoy reading! Morgan Freeman also recommended this book saying that you can always tell when someone is reading Catch-22 because they'll set it down and howl with laughter. Um, yes. I'm in.

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

From the Publisher:

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: 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. 

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

4. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

HBL Note: I hadn't heard of this book before watching Great American Read, which I guess is kind of the point of the program. This book started as a series in a newspaper but the author could barely keep up with demand for new content. It takes place in a time when gay people were told to "sit down and shut up" as the author recounted. He said he knew it was groundbreaking at the time it came out because no one was giving this segment of the population a voice. It was described as "Hilarious and serious. You'll laugh and you'll cry."

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

From the publisher:

The first novel in the beloved Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin’s best-selling San Francisco saga, soon to return to television as a Netflix original series once again starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis.

For almost four decades Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.

5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

HBL Note: Although not a genre I would normally choose, this book appealed to the art-lover in me. It is about beauty and mortality. Dorian Gray has a portrait made of him and although in life he doesn't appear to age a day, the portrait evolves to show the evil inside. Thus, he must keep it hidden from the world. I'm not sure I will actually have the guts to pick this one up, horror is really not my thing, but I love the premise and the connection to art. I'm tempted. 

 5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

5 Books I Want to Read After Watching Great American Read

From the publisher:

In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

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The Immortalists

The Immortalists

Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner