And the Winner of America’s Best-Loved Novel Is…

The winner of the Great American Read as America’s best-loved novel was no surprise. Once I saw the list come out several months ago, I predicted that it would be the number one book. Despite that prediction, it’s not the book I chose as America’s best-loved novel.

The winner was To Kill a Mockingbird, and it is a well-deserved honor. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read (and one of the best movies also, who doesn’t love Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch), and apparently, it’s one of the best books many people have read.

To Kill a Mockingbird led The Great American Read voting from the first week, and kept the lead for the entire five months of voting, despite strong competition from the rest of the five finalists. It also topped the list of votes in every state except North Carolina (who went for Outlander) and Wyoming (who preferred Lord of The Rings). (what’s the problem with the people living in those two states??)

But I decided to vote for another book as my favorite novel – The Count of Monte Cristo. This novel finished at number 41 in the voting (out of 100 novels). Part of the problem may have been that it is not really an American novel (it was written by Alexander Dumas, a French author, and set in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean), but it was on the list of the top 100, and so it was eligible for voting.

The best proof I can offer how much I enjoyed the book is that while I was reading it I arrived late for the night class I was teaching that summer.

The class started at 6:00, it was getting close to 6:00, and I was still at home, unable to put the book down. I told myself I would just read to the end of the chapter I was on, but I ended up reading one more chapter. Needless to say, I arrived a few minutes late for class (fortunately I live very close to campus), which is quite atypical for me. The book had won out over my desire to be at class on time. As you might imagine, I think the students could not have cared less that I was a few minutes late.

Anyway, in case you are curious, here is how the five books (which were in no particular order) I picked as my top five fared in the voting:

  • A Confederacy of Dunces #58
  • A Separate Peace #67
  • The Count of Monte Cristo #41
  • Don Quixote #68
  • To Kill a Mockingbird #1

Here is the complete set of results, from #1 to #100; I am not familiar with the Outlander series, but it looks like I may have to give it a go, given that it placed so high on the list.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Outlander (Series)
  3. Harry Potter (Series)
  4. Pride and Prejudice
  5. Lord of the Rings
  6. Gone with the Wind
  7. Charlotte’s Web
  8. Little Women
  9. Chronicles of Narnia
  10. Jane Eyre
  11. Anne of Green Gables
  12. Grapes of Wrath
  13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  14. Book Thief
  15. Great Gatsby
  16. The Help
  17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  18. 1984
  19. And Then There Were None
  20. Atlas Shrugged
  21. Wuthering Heights
  22. Lonesome Dove
  23. Pillars of the Earth
  24. Stand
  25. Rebecca
  26. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  27. Color Purple
  28. Alice in Wonderland
  29. Great Expectations
  30. Catcher in the Rye
  31. Where the Red Fern Grows
  32. Outsiders
  33. The Da Vinci Code
  34. The Handmaid’s Tale
  35. Dune
  36. The Little Prince
  37. Call of the Wild
  38. The Clan of the Cave Bear
  39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy
  40. The Hunger Games
  41. The Count of Monte Cristo
  42. The Joy Luck Club
  43. Frankenstein
  44. The Giver
  45. Memoirs of a Geisha
  46. Moby Dick
  47. Catch 22
  48. Game of Thrones (series)
  49. Foundation (series)
  50. War and Peace
  51. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  52. Jurassic Park
  53. The Godfather
  54. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  55. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  56. The Notebook
  57. The Shack
  58. A Confederacy of Dunces
  59. The Hunt for Red October
  60. Beloved
  61. The Martian
  62. The Wheel of Time (series)
  63. Siddhartha
  64. Crime and Punishment
  65. The Sun Also Rises
  66. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  67. A Separate Peace
  68. Don Quixote
  69. The Lovely Bones
  70. The Alchemist
  71. Hatchet (series)
  72. Invisible Man
  73. The Twilight Saga (series)
  74. Tales of the City (series)
  75. Gulliver’s Travels
  76. Ready Player One
  77. Left Behind (series)
  78. Gone Girl
  79. Watchers
  80. The Pilgrim’s Progress
  81. Alex Cross Mysteries (series)
  82. Things Fall Apart
  83. Heart of Darkness
  84. Gilead
  85. Flowers in the Attic
  86. Fifty Shades of Grey
  87. The Sirens of Titan
  88. This Present Darkness
  89. Americanah
  90. Another Country
  91. Bless Me, Ultima
  92. Looking for Alaska
  93. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  94. Swan Song
  95. Mind Invaders
  96. White Teeth
  97. Ghost
  98. The Coldest Winter Ever
  99. The Intuitionist
  100. Doña Bárbára

2 thoughts on “And the Winner of America’s Best-Loved Novel Is…

  1. Hi Jim,

    Best loved, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. To Kill a Mockingbird is now one of the most banned/hated books in USA and Canadian schools and public libraries along with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s despised Little House on the Prairie —

    Some people think banning history will make it go away.



    1. Bob, Book bannings make me sad. If nothing else, books offer a glimpse into what society and culture were like at the time of the writing, and I think there is a good deal to be learned from reading such books. Thanks, Jim


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