PBS Top 100 Reads and a Small Bit of Analysis

PBS’ Great American Read Survey’s American readers: More than 25% are genre

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird took top honors in the PBS’ The Great American Read Survey, which, all things considered is not that surprising.  It is a quintisential American novel.

But what is equally interesting to us is how the rest of the list of 100 books works out.

PBS apparently categorized the nominees into “Adventure”, “Classic”, “Crime”, “Historical”, “Inspirational” “Literary” (as if, lol), “Mystery”, “Romance”, “Sci Fi – Fantasy”, and “Young Adult” categories (some given multiples) and here is what we find:

Slightly more than one quarter of the works can be placed in the SF/Fantasy category.  27 to be exact, so long as we are willing to do things like rescue Frankenstein from the “classic” category, something we are more than willing – and justfied – in doing.

On the other hand, only 12 “literary” works made the cut.

Looks like Literary is a genre in decline, hmmmm?

More in decline than the above might suggest, if we dive a little deeper.

If we’re generous and exclude “crime”, “classic”, “Historical, “Inspirational” and “Young Adult” from a genre affiliation, we find that the list has 41 genre works present.

Nearly half of America’s Top 100 Reads are Genre.

Of course this survey remains problematic as we have no way of knowing if those who voted actually read the books they advocated for (unlike, say, the Hugo Awards where there is a high degree of certainty that votes correspond to reads), but this is what you get when you conduct a survey along popular lines….

Another interesting discovery:  nearly half of the nominated works are at least a half-century old.

Yes.  Despite “suck fairy” protestations to the contrary, most of what the great American public are admitting to reading these days are old and out-dated works that don’t speak to the community of today.  This strongly suggests that if you are having issues with that re-read of Doc Smith, there’s something wrong with the reader, not the work.  (Please note that “strongly suggests” does not equate to certainty and may be slightly prejudiced in favor of the author’s views.)

Here’s the link to the announcement

and here are the lists, suitably organized:

As Published by PBS:

Lonesome Dove,”McMurtry, Larry”,1985,Adventure
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,”Smith, Betty”,1943,Classic
“Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The”,”Twain, Mark”,1876,Classic
Another Country,”Baldwin, James”,1962,Classic
Beloved,”Morrison, Toni”,1987,Classic
“Bless Me, Ultima”,”Anaya, Rudolfo”,1972,Classic
Catch 22,”Heller, Joseph”,1961,Classic
“Catcher in the Rye, The”,”Salinger, J.D.”,1951,Classic
Charlotte’s Web,”White, E. B.”,1952,Classic
“Color Purple, The”,”Walker, Alice”,1982,Classic
“Count of Monte Cristo, The”,”Dumas, Alexandre”,1844,Classic
Crime and Punishment,”Dostoyevsky, Fyodor”,1866,Classic
Don Quixote,”de Cervantes, Miguel”,1605,Classic
Doña Bárbara,”Gallegos, Romulo”,1929,Classic
Gone With the Wind,”Mitchell, Margaret”,1936,Classic
“Grapes of Wrath, The”,”Steinbeck, John”,1939,Classic
Great Expectations,”Dickens, Charles”,1861,Classic
“Great Gatsby, The”,”Fitzgerald, F. Scott”,1925,Classic
Heart of Darkness,”Conrad, Joseph”,1902,Classic
Invisible Man,”Ellison, Ralph”,1953,Classic
“Little Prince, The”,”de Saint-Exupery, Antoine”,1943,Classic
Little Women,”Alcott, Louisa May”,1868,Classic
Moby Dick,”Melville, Herman”,1851,Classic
One Hundred Years of Solitude,”Garcia Marquez, Gabriel”,1967,Classic
“Pilgrim’s Progress, The”,”Bunyan, John”,1678,Classic
Pride and Prejudice,”Austen, Jane”,1813,Classic
Siddhartha,”Hesse, Hermann”,1922,Classic
“Sun Also Rises, The”,”Hemingway, Ernest”,1926,Classic
Their Eyes Were Watching God,”Hurston, Zora Neale”,1937,Classic
Things Fall Apart,”Achebe, Chinua”,1958,Classic
To Kill a Mockingbird,”Lee, Harper”,1960,Classic
War and Peace,”Tolstoy, Leo”,1869,Classic
Wuthering Heights,”Bronte, Emily”,1847,Classic
Jane Eyre,”Bronte, Charlotte”,1847,”Classic, Romance”
Clan of the Cave Bear,”Auel, Jean M.”,1980,Historical
“Help, The”,”Stockett, Kathryn”,2009,Historical
Pillars of the Earth,”Follett, Ken”,1989,Historical
“Alchemist, The”,”Coelho, Paulo”,1988,Inspirational
Left Behind (series),”LaHaye, Tim / Jenkins, Jerry B.”,1995,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
“Shack, The”,”Young, William P.”,2007,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
This Present Darkness,”Peretti, Frank E.”,1986,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
A Confederacy of Dunces,”Toole, John Kennedy”,1980,Literary
A Prayer for Owen Meany,”Irving, John”,1989,Literary
Americanah,”Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi”,2013,Literary
“Coldest Winter Ever, The”,Sister Soulja,1999,Literary
Gilead,”Robinson, Marilyn”,2004,Literary
“Handmaid’s Tale, The”,”Atwood, Margaret”,1985,Literary
“Intuitionist, The”,”Whitehead, Colson”,1999,Literary
“Joy Luck Club, The”,”Tan, Amy”,1989,Literary
“Lovely Bones, The”,”Sebold, Alice”,2002,Literary
Memoirs of a Geisha,”Golden, Arthur”,1997,Literary
Tales of the City (series),”Maupin, Armistead”,1978,Literary
White Teeth,”Smith, Zadie”,2000,Literary
“Watchers, The”,”Koontz, Dean”,1987,Mystery
Alex Cross Mysteries (series),”Patterson, James”,1993,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
And Then There Were None,”Christie, Agatha”,1939,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
“Da Vinci Code, The”,”Brown, Dan”,2003,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
“Godfather, The”,”Puzo, Mario”,1969,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
Gone Girl,”Flynn, Gillian”,2012,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
Rebecca,”du Maurier, Daphne”,1938,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
“Hunt for Red October, The”,”Clancy, Tom”,1984,Mystery/Crime/Thriller/
Fifty Shades of Grey (series),”James, E.L.”,2011,Romance
“Notebook, The”,”Sparks, Nicholas”,1996,Romance
1984,”Orwell, George”,1949,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Alice in Wonderland,”Carroll, Lewis”,1865,Classic
Atlas Shrugged,”Rand, Ayn”,1957,Classic
“Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, The”,”Diaz, Junot”,2007,Literary
“Chronicles of Narnia, The (series)”,”Lewis, C.S.”,1950,”Classic, Adventure”
Dune,”Herbert, Frank”,1965,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Flowers in the Attic,”Andrews, V.C.”,1979,Horror
Foundation (series),”Asimov, Issac”,1951,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Frankenstein,”Shelley, Mary”,1818,”Classic, Horror”
Game of Thrones (series),”Martin, George R. R.”,1996,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Adventure”
“Giver, The”,”Lowry, Lois”,1993,Young Adult
Gulliver’s Travels,”Swift, Jonathan”,1726,”Classic, Adventure”
Harry Potter (series),”Rowling, J.K.”,1997,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,”Adams, Douglas”,1979,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Hunger Games, The (series)”,”Collins, Suzanne”,2008,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult”
Jurassic Park,”Crichton, Michael”,1990,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Lord of the Rings, The (series)”,”Tolkien, J.R.R.”,1954,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Martian, The”,”Weir, Andy”,2014,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Mind Invaders,”Hunt, Dave”,1989,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Inspirational”
Outlander (series),”Gabaldon, Diana”,1991,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Picture of Dorian Gray,”Wilde, Oscar”,1890,Classic
Ready Player One,”Cline, Ernest”,2011,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Sirens of Titan, The”,”Vonnegut, Kurt”,1959,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Stand, The”,”King, Stephen”,1978,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror”
Swan Song,”McCammon, Robert R.”,1987,”Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
Twilight Saga (series),”Meyer, Stephanie”,2005,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance”
“Wheel of Time, The (series)”,”Jordan, Robert”,1990,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
A Separate Peace,”Knowles, John”,1959,Young Adult
Anne of Green Gables,”Montgomery, Lucy Maud”,1908,Young Adult
“Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, The”,”Haddon, Mark”,2003,Young Adult
Ghost,”Reynolds, Jason”,2016,Young Adult
Looking for Alaska,”Green, John”,2005,Young Adult
“Outsiders, The”,”Hinton, S.E.”,1967,Young Adult
Where the Red Fern Grows,”Rawls, Wilson”,1961,Young Adult
Call of the Wild,”London, Jack”,1903,”Young Adult, Adventure”
Hatchet (series),”Paulsen, Gary”,1987,”Young Adult, Adventure”
“Book Thief, The”,”Zusak, Markus”,2005,”Young Adult, Historical”

Genre Works:

1984,”Orwell, George”,1949,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Alice in Wonderland,”Carroll, Lewis”,1865,Classic
Atlas Shrugged,”Rand, Ayn”,1957,Classic
“Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, The”,”Diaz, Junot”,2007,Literary
“Chronicles of Narnia, The (series)”,”Lewis, C.S.”,1950,”Classic, Adventure”
Dune,”Herbert, Frank”,1965,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Flowers in the Attic,”Andrews, V.C.”,1979,Horror
Foundation (series),”Asimov, Issac”,1951,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Frankenstein,”Shelley, Mary”,1818,”Classic, Horror”
Game of Thrones (series),”Martin, George R. R.”,1996,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Adventure”
“Giver, The”,”Lowry, Lois”,1993,Young Adult
Gulliver’s Travels,”Swift, Jonathan”,1726,”Classic, Adventure”
Harry Potter (series),”Rowling, J.K.”,1997,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,”Adams, Douglas”,1979,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Hunger Games, The (series)”,”Collins, Suzanne”,2008,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult”
Jurassic Park,”Crichton, Michael”,1990,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Lord of the Rings, The (series)”,”Tolkien, J.R.R.”,1954,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Martian, The”,”Weir, Andy”,2014,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Mind Invaders,”Hunt, Dave”,1989,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Inspirational”
Outlander (series),”Gabaldon, Diana”,1991,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Picture of Dorian Gray,”Wilde, Oscar”,1890,Classic
Ready Player One,”Cline, Ernest”,2011,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Sirens of Titan, The”,”Vonnegut, Kurt”,1959,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
“Stand, The”,”King, Stephen”,1978,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror”
Swan Song,”McCammon, Robert R.”,1987,”Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
Twilight Saga (series),”Meyer, Stephanie”,2005,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance”
“Wheel of Time, The (series)”,”Jordan, Robert”,1990,Sci-Fi/Fantasy

By Date:

More than 100 years old
1605,Don Quixote,”de Cervantes, Miguel”,Classic
1678,”Pilgrim’s Progress, The”,”Bunyan, John”,Classic
1726,Gulliver’s Travels,”Swift, Jonathan”,”Classic, Adventure”
1813,Pride and Prejudice,”Austen, Jane”,Classic
1818,Frankenstein,”Shelley, Mary”,”Classic, Horror”
1844,”Count of Monte Cristo, The”,”Dumas, Alexandre”,Classic
1847,Wuthering Heights,”Bronte, Emily”,Classic
1847,Jane Eyre,”Bronte, Charlotte”,”Classic, Romance”
1851,Moby Dick,”Melville, Herman”,Classic
1861,Great Expectations,”Dickens, Charles”,Classic
1865,Alice in Wonderland,”Carroll, Lewis”,Classic
1866,Crime and Punishment,”Dostoyevsky, Fyodor”,Classic
1868,Little Women,”Alcott, Louisa May”,Classic
1869,War and Peace,”Tolstoy, Leo”,Classic
1876,”Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The”,”Twain, Mark”,Classic
1890,Picture of Dorian Gray,”Wilde, Oscar”,Classic
1902,Heart of Darkness,”Conrad, Joseph”,Classic
1903,Call of the Wild,”London, Jack”,”Young Adult, Adventure”
1908,Anne of Green Gables,”Montgomery, Lucy Maud”,Young Adult

More than 50 years old
1922,Siddhartha,”Hesse, Hermann”,Classic
1925,”Great Gatsby, The”,”Fitzgerald, F. Scott”,Classic
1926,”Sun Also Rises, The”,”Hemingway, Ernest”,Classic
1929,Doña Bárbara,”Gallegos, Romulo”,Classic
1936,Gone With the Wind,”Mitchell, Margaret”,Classic
1937,Their Eyes Were Watching God,”Hurston, Zora Neale”,Classic
1938,Rebecca,”du Maurier, Daphne”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
1939,”Grapes of Wrath, The”,”Steinbeck, John”,Classic
1939,And Then There Were None,”Christie, Agatha”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
1943,A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,”Smith, Betty”,Classic
1943,”Little Prince, The”,”de Saint-Exupery, Antoine”,Classic
1949,1984,”Orwell, George”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1950,”Chronicles of Narnia, The (series)”,”Lewis, C.S.”,”Classic, Adventure”
1951,”Catcher in the Rye, The”,”Salinger, J.D.”,Classic
1951,Foundation (series),”Asimov, Issac”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1952,Charlotte’s Web,”White, E. B.”,Classic
1953,Invisible Man,”Ellison, Ralph”,Classic
1954,”Lord of the Rings, The (series)”,”Tolkien, J.R.R.”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1957,Atlas Shrugged,”Rand, Ayn”,Classic
1958,Things Fall Apart,”Achebe, Chinua”,Classic
1959,”Sirens of Titan, The”,”Vonnegut, Kurt”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1959,A Separate Peace,”Knowles, John”,Young Adult
1960,To Kill a Mockingbird,”Lee, Harper”,Classic
1961,Catch 22,”Heller, Joseph”,Classic
1961,Where the Red Fern Grows,”Rawls, Wilson”,Young Adult
1962,Another Country,”Baldwin, James”,Classic
1965,Dune,”Herbert, Frank”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1967,One Hundred Years of Solitude,”Garcia Marquez, Gabriel”,Classic
1967,”Outsiders, The”,”Hinton, S.E.”,Young Adult

More than 25 years old
1969,”Godfather, The”,”Puzo, Mario”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
1972,”Bless Me, Ultima”,”Anaya, Rudolfo”,Classic
1978,Tales of the City (series),”Maupin, Armistead”,Literary
1978,”Stand, The”,”King, Stephen”,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror”
1979,Flowers in the Attic,”Andrews, V.C.”,Horror
1979,Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,”Adams, Douglas”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1980,Clan of the Cave Bear,”Auel, Jean M.”,Historical
1980,A Confederacy of Dunces,”Toole, John Kennedy”,Literary
1982,”Color Purple, The”,”Walker, Alice”,Classic
1984,”Hunt for Red October, The”,”Clancy, Tom”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller/
1985,Lonesome Dove,”McMurtry, Larry”,Adventure
1985,”Handmaid’s Tale, The”,”Atwood, Margaret”,Literary
1986,This Present Darkness,”Peretti, Frank E.”,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
1987,Beloved,”Morrison, Toni”,Classic
1987,”Watchers, The”,”Koontz, Dean”,Mystery
1987,Swan Song,”McCammon, Robert R.”,”Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
1987,Hatchet (series),”Paulsen, Gary”,”Young Adult, Adventure”
1988,”Alchemist, The”,”Coelho, Paulo”,Inspirational
1989,Pillars of the Earth,”Follett, Ken”,Historical
1989,A Prayer for Owen Meany,”Irving, John”,Literary
1989,”Joy Luck Club, The”,”Tan, Amy”,Literary
1989,Mind Invaders,”Hunt, Dave”,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Inspirational”
1990,Jurassic Park,”Crichton, Michael”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1990,”Wheel of Time, The (series)”,”Jordan, Robert”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1991,Outlander (series),”Gabaldon, Diana”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1993,Alex Cross Mysteries (series),”Patterson, James”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
1993,”Giver, The”,”Lowry, Lois”,Young Adult

Less than 25 years old
1995,Left Behind (series),”LaHaye, Tim / Jenkins, Jerry B.”,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
1996,”Notebook, The”,”Sparks, Nicholas”,Romance
1996,Game of Thrones (series),”Martin, George R. R.”,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Adventure”
1997,Memoirs of a Geisha,”Golden, Arthur”,Literary
1997,Harry Potter (series),”Rowling, J.K.”,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy”
1999,”Coldest Winter Ever, The”,Sister Soulja,Literary
1999,”Intuitionist, The”,”Whitehead, Colson”,Literary
2000,White Teeth,”Smith, Zadie”,Literary
2002,”Lovely Bones, The”,”Sebold, Alice”,Literary
2003,”Da Vinci Code, The”,”Brown, Dan”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
2003,”Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, The”,”Haddon, Mark”,Young Adult
2004,Gilead,”Robinson, Marilyn”,Literary
2005,Twilight Saga (series),”Meyer, Stephanie”,”Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance”
2005,Looking for Alaska,”Green, John”,Young Adult
2005,”Book Thief, The”,”Zusak, Markus”,”Young Adult, Historical”
2007,”Shack, The”,”Young, William P.”,”Inspirational, Mystery/Crime/Thriller”
2007,”Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, The”,”Diaz, Junot”,Literary

Less than ten years old
2008,”Hunger Games, The (series)”,”Collins, Suzanne”,”Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult”
2009,”Help, The”,”Stockett, Kathryn”,Historical
2011,Fifty Shades of Grey (series),”James, E.L.”,Romance
2011,Ready Player One,”Cline, Ernest”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
2012,Gone Girl,”Flynn, Gillian”,Mystery/Crime/Thriller
2013,Americanah,”Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi”,Literary
2014,”Martian, The”,”Weir, Andy”,Sci-Fi/Fantasy
2016,Ghost,”Reynolds, Jason”,Young Adult

 

 

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