PBS kicked off The Great American Read, its forthcoming eight-episode documentary on reading in American Culture, by revealing the show’s list of America’s 100 best loved books in front of a lively crowd at the Morgan Library in Midtown Manhattan Friday morning.
The Great American Read will premier on PBS with a two-hour show on May 22. At that time, fans can go to The Great American Read website and vote for the book they want named the most loved book of them all. The winning book—America’s Most Loved Novel--will be revealed during the documentary’s final episode in October 2018.
And there was plenty of enthusiasm for the list of 100 titles from the audience that crowded into the Morgan Library auditorium. As the books were revealed, the energetic crowd erupted with raucous cheers for their favorite books (and occasional gasps of disapproval for a few titles).
During the event, PBS presented TV personality Meredith Viera, who will host the documentary series, and she revealed the first 10 titles on the list. Following her were a number of celebrity presenters—among them, actresses Ming-Na Wen and Diane Lane, former NFL player Chris Kluwe, and author Amistead Maupin—who also each came on stage to reveal 10 titles.
The kickoff event also featured a sneak peek at the first episode of TGAR. The series excerpt featured ordinary people (a young black woman from Chicago who talked about her love of Harry Potter, was a crowd favorite), as well as celebrities like Chelsea Clinton, Junot Diaz, Gabriel Union, Allison Williams, and John Green, showcasing their favorite novels and expressing their love of books.
At the end of the event, a panel featuring PBS COO Jonathan Barzilay, Viera, Jane Root, founder of Nutopia, which produced the show, and Jennifer Cook from the PBS affiliate in Orlando, answered questions from the crowd. Asked what PBS hoped to achieve from TGAR, Cook said: “A record number of people voting on the books. It will be great to see people uniting behind reading.”