PBS has updated its plans for The Great American Read, an 8-episode documentary series focused on the role of reading in American Culture, revealing a preliminary list of the authors and celebrities that will appear on the show, as well as the panel of literary experts participating in the program.
PBS president Paula Kerger said the documentary will include appearances by, among others, Margaret Atwood, Jason Reynolds, Junot Diaz and Diana Gabaldon. Beyond those authors, actors such as Lauren Graham will appear on the show, as well as New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard.
PBS also revealed the names of the literary advisory panel that assisted in determining the 100 best-loved books to be featured on the show. Among the members of the panel are, Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation; Kevin Young, director of the Schomburg Center for Black Culture; and Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild.
Announced last summer, The Great American Read will debut on May 22 at 8 p.m. with a two-hour program that will reveal a list of 100 best-loved books chosen by the American public and a panel of literary and publishing professionals. Over the course of the summer and fall 2018, TGAR will encourage viewers to vote on the list of 100 books and on a top ten list of the most-beloved books.
In addition, during the fall voting, TGAR will present a series of mini-documentary episodes that will include celebrities and focus on a variety of literary themes including “Who Am I?,” “Heroes,” “Villains and Monsters,” “Other Worlds,” and “What We Do For Love.” A final top ten list and best-loved book (as determined by voters) will be revealed in the final episode set to air in October.
Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming at PBS, said the network hopes The Great American Read "encourages a multi-generational dialogue about literacy in America."
Corrections: An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted the number of episodes in TGAR, in addition to an inaccurate list of literary themes and details of the voting.