Introduction: Grand Finale (02:34)
More than 4 million votes were cast in the PBS campaign to determine America’s favorite novel. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, actress Gabrielle Union, and others reveal their picks in a montage. The top 100 will be counted down on this final episode of “The Great American Read.”
Fan Phenomenon (03:24)
Show host Meredith Vieira highlights the member stations and voters that participated in the campaign to find America’s favorite novel. Superfan Debbie Ford is the creator of Through the Stones, the first and largest “Outlander” convention in the Midwest.
First Top Five Book (03:01)
Vieira reveals the first of the top five picks from the PBS survey, “Outlander.” Author Diana Gabaldon joins Vieira onstage to discuss the appeal of her series and a misunderstanding that resulted from her secrecy as she wrote her debut novel.
Reading Perks, Countdown Begins (04:48)
Dancer Bill T. Jones, author David Baldacci, actress Lauren Graham, and others discuss the importance of reading. Author Robert McCammon and actress Ali Wentworth come onstage to begin counting down the top 100 books. McCammon’s “Swan Song” is No. 94 on the list.
Libraries Rule, Strike a Pose (01:58)
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, media personality Gayle King, author Dean Koontz, and others extoll the virtues of libraries. Vieira explains the role local libraries played in promoting the Great American Read campaign. The staff of a library in Freeport, New York came up with a unique promotion.
Harper Lee Cracks Top Five (06:01)
The plot of “To Kill a Mockingbird” revolves around the trial of a black man who has been falsely accused of raping a white woman in the Jim Crow-era Deep South. Writer Aaron Sorkin is adapting the story for the Broadway stage.
Creative Process, Countdown Continues (04:09)
Authors James Patterson, John Irving, Jason Reynolds, Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn, and Nicholas Sparks share insight into how and why they create. Books 80 to 61 include works by Miguel de Cervantes, Jonathan Swift, Ralph Ellison, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and more.
One Book to Rule Them All? (03:13)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings,” cracks the top five list of America’s favorite novels. Actress Diana Lane, author George R.R. Martin, and other fans praise the series. Actor Wil Wheaton joins Vieira onstage to discuss Tolkien’s masterworks.
Book Club Couple, More Countdown (05:06)
Vieira discusses the Great American Read Facebook Book Club, which has accumulated more than 50,000 members. Early members Ryan Scarola and Dima Khrypach talk about their experiences with the club and their forthcoming adoption. Authors Amy Tan and Wm. Paul Young count down more books.
Romantic Finalist (03:20)
Vieira announces the next top five book, Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.” Author Maya Rodale, journalist Joshua Rothman, and fans sing the novel’s praises. Ali Wentworth returns to the stage to discuss Austen’s classic tale and its strong female protagonist.
Voting Breakdown, Books 40 to 21 (04:31)
Voters agreed on their very top books, Vieira explains, but there was a lot of diversity in the lower 60. Rudolfo Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima,” S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” and other novels got boosts in the authors’ home states.
Magical Finalist, Talking Head Recap (04:18)
J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, the last of five Great American Read finalists, is kept in one in 15 homes on Planet Earth. Presidential daughter Chelsea Clinton is a fan. Teacher Shanna Peeples and Potter superfan Elyannah Amirah Yisrael join Vieira onstage.
Top 20 (Minus Five) (03:21)
The next books on the countdown got at least 56,196 votes. Journalist Lesley Stahl and author Markus Zusak count down books 20 to six, which include contributions from Agatha Christie, George Orwell, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more.
Greatest Read Revealed (05:33)
Vieira announced that the organization First Book is donating books to PBS member stations. She counts down the top five vote getters, concluding with Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The book remained in the top spot throughout the voting process.
Credits: Grande Finale (00:30)
Credits: Grande Finale
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