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The Great American Read Book List

The Great American Read, hosted by Meredith Vieira, is an eight-part television and online series designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books that have inspired, moved, and shaped us. Get caught up on the reads below, and learn what trusted book people at Penguin Random House have to say about a few of their favorites as well! Vote for the books you love here.

  1. 1

    The Pillars of the Earth

    “I remember picking up Ken Follett’s Pillars of Earth for the gothic architecture only to find myself completely captivated by an unputdownable, page-turning epic (all 1,008 pgs of it)!” – Patrick Nolan, VP & Editor in Chief, Penguin Books

    The Pillars of the Earth Book Cover Picture
  2. 2
    1984 Book Cover Picture
  3. 4

    The Grapes of Wrath

    “John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is one of the most relevant and powerful classics I could recommend. The struggles and survival of the Joads reflect that of America, and shed light on the hardships of the marginalized and what it takes to endure.” – Elda Rotor, VP & Publisher, Penguin Classics

    The Grapes of Wrath Book Cover Picture
  4. 6


    Americanah is a gorgeous, surprisingly funny look at America from an immigrant perspective. It’s a witty commentary on race, but at its heart, it’s the story of two people finding one another after many years.

    – Christine, Director, Online Marketing

    Americanah Book Cover Picture
  5. 7

    Anne of Green Gables

    I don’t recall Anne not being a part of my childhood. Her story of romance, hilarious antics and, one of my favorite parts of the story, deep friendship not only shaped me as a young girl, but encouraged me to see beauty (or imagine it!) in every aspect of life. -Jamie, Marketing Manager, Waterbrook

    Anne of Green Gables Book Cover Picture
  6. 11

    The Book Thief (Anniversary Edition)

    A classic from the moment it was published, The Book Thief is required reading and will change the way you think about storytelling!” – John Adamo, SVP Marketing, Random House

    The Book Thief (Anniversary Edition) Book Cover Picture
  7. 14

    Things Fall Apart

    There are so many ways to read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and so many things to learn about pre-colonial and post-colonial Africa but at its core there is a life affirming reminder of our common humanity – and this is what stays with me more than twenty years later. ” – Patrick Nolan, VP & Editor in Chief, Penguin Books

    Things Fall Apart Book Cover Picture
  8. 22

    Jurassic Park

    One of Crichton’s gift as a writer was making science accessible and interpretations of where it was heading believable, never more so than in Jurassic Park. I remember putting that book down and thinking, ‘Cloned dinosaurs? Absolutely going to happen in my lifetime.’ Jurassic Park remains one of the great entertainments of all time.” – Paul Bogaards, EVP & Director, Public Relations, Knopf

    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture
  9. 23
    Dune Book Cover Picture
  10. 27


    “Reading Siddhartha was a very important moment for me in a point in my life when I was young, angry, and wanted to be anywhere other than where I was. After I moved around a bit and gained some life experience, one of it’s main lessons came through to me as a truth I have followed ever since – life is where you are right now, so nurture it and watch it grow.” – Paul Buckley, SVP Executive Creative Director, Viking Penguin

    Siddhartha Book Cover Picture
  11. 30

    Gone Girl

    “Marriage, deception and still more deception. A trailblazing novel, Gone Girl set a new standard for contemporary fiction.” – Molly Stern, SVP & Publisher, Crown Publishing

    Gone Girl Book Cover Picture
  12. 33

    The Joy Luck Club

    “Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club gives voice to the intergenerational, immigrant, mother-daughter stories that many readers can relate to. The journey among these women are distinct but the connections made to readers are universal.” – Elda Rotor, VP & Publisher, Penguin Classics

    The Joy Luck Club Book Cover Picture

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