“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin's quote from "A Dance with Dragons" is a fitting introduction to a new PBS series that seeks an answer to "What's America's best-loved novel?"
The winner will be decided by a national vote. And you can vote as many times as you want, so no need to limit yourself to just one book.
PBS has helped corral the choices for its multiplatform "The Great American Read" through a YouGov public opinion poll yielding a list of America's 100 favorite novels.
The prolific and popular Martin, whose fantasy "A Game of Thrones" made the list, says in the series' two-hour premiere airing at 7 p.m. Tuesday that he'll vote for J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy "The Lord of the Rings," one of the best-selling novels of all time.
Martin is among several authors, celebrities and members of the book-reading public who'll share their opinions over the eight-part series with host Meredith Vieira on everything from the oldest on the list, 1605's "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, to the most-recently published, 2016's "Ghost" by Jason Reynolds.
After Tuesday night's premiere, "The Great American Read" will return in the fall with several themed episodes leading up to the October finale in which "America's Best-Loved Novel" will be revealed. "The Read" also will include public events, social media elements and national reading clubs, as the nation celebrates books and reading. For more information and how to vote, visit pbs.org/greatamericanread.
Of Louisiana interest in the first episode is a comparison of the two-part "Quixote" classic to John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," which hit shelves in 1980, 11 years after Toole's suicide.
"It wasn't just a New Orleans novel; it was like the greatest unpublished novel of all time," says New Orleans native, journalist, professor and author Walter Isaacson of the first time he laid eyes on the Big Easy-set manuscript.
"Dunces" unfolds around central character Ignatius J. Reilly, a 30-year-old educated loafer living with his mother in Uptown. His search for employment morphs into a comical adventure when some lively French Quarter characters enter the picture.
"I would say it's 'Don Quixote' set in New Orleans," Isaacson says. "In fact, 'Confederacy of Dunces' echoes 'Don Quixote' because the Man of LaMancha (Quixote's lead character) — he's a little bit nuts (a trait Ignatius also demonstrates)."
Even closer to home, "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly, "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones and "The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham are the East Baton Rouge Parish Library's most-circulated books for 2018 thus far. Although none of these made PBS' list, "Hidden Figures" is the library's 2018 One Book One Community selection.
Filling out the library's top 10 are: "Origin" by Dan Brown, "The Midnight Line" by Lee Child, "Robicheaux" by part-time Louisianian James Lee Burke, "End Game" by David Baldacci, "Haunted" by James Patterson, "The People vs. Alex Cross" by Patterson and "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah.
Parish residents do like to read, as evidenced by the latest figures from the library, which has more than 2 million items in its collections.
More than 23,000 new library cards were issued in 2017, bringing the total active patron count to 296,417, according to Kayla D. Perkins, the library's public relations coordinator.
In spite of continuing disruptions from the 2016 flood, circulation remained steady at 2,924,461 items in 2017, Perkins noted, with digital circulation accounting for the largest percentage of growth.
And, while still not at pre-flood levels, visits to the parish libraries numbered 2,131,182 in 2017, Perkins said.
What EBR's reading
1. "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly (One Book One Community selection)
2. "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones
3. "The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham
4. "Origin" by Dan Brown
5. "The Midnight Line" by Lee Child
6. "Robicheaux" by James Lee Burke
7. "End Game" by David Baldacci
8. "Haunted" by James Patterson
9. "The People vs. Alex Cross" by James Patterson
10. "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah
America's 100 Favorite Novels
- "1984" by George Orwell
- "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole
- "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
- "A Prayer For Owen Meany" by John Irving
- "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles
- "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith
- "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
- "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho
- "Alex Cross Mysteries" (series) by James Patterson
- "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
- "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie
- "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- "Another Country" by James Baldwin
- "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand
- "Beloved" by Toni Morrison
- "Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya
- "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
- "The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz
- "The Call Of The Wild" by Jack London
- "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
- "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
- "Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White
- "The Chronicles of Narnia" (series) by C.S. Lewis
- "Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean M. Auel
- "Coldest Winter Ever" by Sister Souljah
- "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
- "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas
- "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon
- "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown
- "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes
- "Doña Bárbára" by Rómulo Gallegos
- "Dune" by Frank Herbert
- "Fifty Shades Of Grey" (series) by E. L. James
- "Flowers In The Attic" V.C. Andrews Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov
- "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley
- "Game of Thrones" (series) by George R.R. Martin
- "Ghost" by Jason Reynolds
- "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson
- "The Giver" by Lois Lowry
- "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo
- "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
- "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
- "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
- "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens
- "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift
- "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood
- "Harry Potter" (series) by J.K. Rowling
- "Hatchet" (series) by Gary Paulsen
- "Heart Of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad
- "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
- "The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
- "The Hunger Games" (series) by Suzanne Collins
- "The Hunt For Red October" by Tom Clancy
- "The Intuitionist" by Colson Whitehead
- "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
- "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë
- "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan
- "Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton
- "Left Behind" (series) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
- "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
- "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry
- "Looking for Alaska" by John Green
- "The Lord of the Rings" (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold
- "The Martian" by Andy Weir
- "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden
- "Mind Invaders" by Dave Hunt
- "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville
- "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks
- "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez
- "Outlander" (series) by Diana Gabaldon
- "The Outsiders" by S. E. Hinton
- "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde
- "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan
- "The Pillars of The Earth" by Ken Follett
- "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
- "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline
- "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier
- "The Shack" by William P. Young
- "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse
- "The Sirens Of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut
- "The Stand" by Stephen King
- "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway
- "Swan Song" by Robert R. McCammon
- "Tales of The City" (series) by Armistead Maupin
- "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston
- "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe
- "This Present Darkness" by Frank. E. Peretti
- "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
- "The Twilight Saga" (series) by Stephenie Meyer
- "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
- "Watchers" by Dean Koontz
- "The Wheel of Time" (series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
- "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls
- "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith
- "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë
'The Great American Read'
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
CHANNEL: WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12).