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What Is The 2nd Most Loved Book in America?

October 29, 2018

Whenever there’s a book list, this one’s on it.

It’s no surprise that To Kill a Mockingbird is the most loved novel in the United States, according to the Great American Read  results.  Even people who think To Kill a Mockingbird is overrated knew that it would win.  The only question was what novel or book series would come in second (and third…).

And that’s where the poll gets controversial!  And shocking!  And any other hyperbolic adjective you can think of.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon came in second!  What?  I mean, I’ve heard of the series and I knew there were a bunch of books and I knew that fans of the books were devoted, but this still blindsided me.  When The Great American Read was first announced, I thought that James Patterson fans would flood the vote.  I was wrong.  I apologize for that.  Instead, it was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander fans.

2nd most beloved book/series of all time?  I mean, if you’re going to flood a vote, don’t overdo it.   Don’t beat out the Harry Potter books.  As long as you don’t beat the Harry Potter books, nobody will care.

The Harry Potter series was #3, and under most circumstances that would have been cool.  I usually think no book under 20 years old should be put on these kinds of lists because you don’t know if newer books will have longevity.  I’m pretty sure the Harry Potter books will be read for a long time.  Other newer books, like Gone Girl or Outlander, I’m not sure about.  I liked Gone Girl, but I don’t know if people will still read it 20 years from now.

If I’m around in twenty years, I’m going to see if people still read Gone Girl or Outlander, and I’ll come back and let you know.

James Patterson finished 81st for his Alex Cross series.  That sounds about right.  If any James Patterson book/series had finished in the top ten, I would have suspected that the vote was rigged.  81st is a respectable place for an author whose name is on more book covers than anybody else.  Plus, I think he might have actually written some of the Alex Cross books himself.  And a couple of them might even be good.

And of course, To Kill a Mockingbird is the most loved book in the United States.  When I was in school, it was the only novel that was forced upon us that nobody hated.  Maybe my peers hated it and were afraid to say they hated it.  We vocally hated everything else we were forced to read.  But not To Kill a Mockingbird.  Teachers never even showed us the movie, and we still didn’t hate the book.

I’m also glad the fake sequel Go Set a Watchman didn’t hurt To Kill a Mockingbird.  Even though Go Set a Watchman was a big deal a few years ago, I think most people today pretend it doesn’t exist.  It’s obvious that it wasn’t supposed to exist.  It’s interesting in its own way, but it’s like an alternate history novel, interesting concept, but it didn’t happen.

There are other great novels that had bad/uninspiring sequels that don’t really hurt the original novels.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer had sequels where he was a detective (kind of).  Lonesome Dove had some terrible sequels that would have ruined Lonesome Dove if anybody had cared enough about them.  The Godfather (the novel) had some bad sequels too, but nobody blames The Godfather for them.

That’s not always the case.  I think Mockinjay taints The Hunger Games a little bit.  I mean, The Hunger Games series still made the list (again, let’s check back in 20 years).  I think the ending of The Giver is ruined a little bit by information readers learn in the follow up novels.  At least The Giver has been around for over twenty years and is thematically strong enough to overcome the weakness of its semi-sequels, but it’s still been tainted.

I’ll admit, I didn’t vote in the Great American Read.  I knew about it, but I still didn’t vote.  I was interested in the results, but I didn’t care enough to actually think about my own personal preference.  I don’t know what my most beloved book is.  It’s almost a silly question.  I have to choose one?  Even though I didn’t vote, I still have an opinion about the results.  I believe you can have an opinion if you don’t vote.  You just shouldn’t complain.  You CAN complain, but you shouldn’t.  And I’m not complaining.  I’m just pointing out what I think is interesting.  That’s not the same thing as complaining.

When the Great American Read poll was announced a few months, I (and probably anyone who put thought into it) figured To Kill a Mockingbird would finish at the top.  I’m not sure when the next Great American Read poll will be announced (I hope it’s not too soon), it will be interesting to see what changes occur.  Who knows?  I might even vote next time.

  1. I can understand To Kill A Mockingbird, but the others? I am reminded of Star Trek IV, with Kirk and Spook on the bus. Spook asks Kirk about his change of language, and Kirk explains it goes with the times (late Eighties). “You can find it in the literature of the times, in the works of Jacqueline Suzzanne and Harold Robbins?”
    Spook responds: “Ah, the greats.”

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