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.
“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
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“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