**This is a sponsored post on behalf of PBS. All opinions are my own.**
I used to hate summer break as a kid.
I blame my mother, —bless her amazing heart that I now realize was only trying to do the right thing —and books.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved stories –listening to them, telling them, writing them.
I just hated to read independently when I was a kid.
Fortunately 4th grade happened and everything changed.
That was the year my teacher decided to share her favorite story with us –The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for read aloud.
I’d never been so enthralled by a story before venturing with Lucy into that magical land through a wardrobe in the back of some old dude’s house.
Something was lit inside of me thanks to that story and I have not stopped reading since.
Fast forward a few years, okay like 30 years, and I am still quite the bibliophile.
So, when I learned about The Great American Read and their 100 best American books list that will be featured on PBS as part of the eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, I was curious to see if any of my favorite titles would make the cut.
As someone who shies away from deeper reads in favor of more, shall I say, exhilarating ones (don’t judge, I read steamy romance books mostly), I assumed that most of my picks wouldn’t make an appearance on this or any best American books list.
Only, guess what, America?!
Y’all love romance books too!
And fun books, and fantasy books, and books about love and adventure and magic and friendship.
I was happy to discover that I’m not the only person who has a semi-secret love affair with a sparkly vampire, a billionaire bad boy, and an 18th century, kilt wearing Scot. And, while you may not leave your copy of 50 Shades of Grey sitting on your desk at work, you have it in your bag, and you’re reading it on the train, and talking to all of your girlfriends about it.
Just. Like. Me.
I’ve read 30 of what are arguably the best American books according to The Great American Read Top 100 list. Here are a few I think you should check out.
My Great American Read: 5 Best American Books I Know You’ll Love
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
I read the entire series within the first couple months of 4th grade, and again in middle school. When my 4th grader came home with a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe just before summer break, I practically sobbed with joy over the thought that we would be able to share it.
It’s the perfect pick for anyone who is young or just young at heart.
Fun Fact: Lewis destroyed the first version of the book because his friends didn’t like it.
Read more about the book and vote for it as your favorite here: The Chronicles of Narnia.
Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer
I know you know it thanks to Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart who brought the immortal characters to life on the big screen, but what you saw on film was not the entirety of what I fell in love with among those thousands and thousands of pages.
I’ve always been a fan of vampires –something about their ability to experience the love of those they care about forever, and more than anything I thought Bella and Edward had a beautiful love story. Sure, it was a little dependent and a lot consuming, but you know, that’s sort of exactly what I imagine being in love with a powerful, beautiful, sparkly, 117-year-old vampire would actually be like. Especially if you’re an awkward, introverted high school girl.
Favorite quote: “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you.” -Edward, Twilight.
Read more great quotes from the book and vote for it as your favorite here: Twilight
50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
It’s really no shocker that I loved this book –it was, after all, written as Twilight fan fiction (Christian is Edward, the powerful, scary, but loving vampire, and Anna is the naïve, innocent, scared, but devoted girlfriend). While it never received a ton of critical acclaim and was criticized for dramatizing and misrepresenting an America subculture, it did it for me and millions of other women who accepted it as a fun, enjoyable break from real life.
Fun fact: The series became the first mainstream erotica bestseller.
Read more great quotes from the book and vote for it as your favorite here: 50 Shades of Grey
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
Listen, I am typically not down with time travel—it’s scary and also confusing.
But, throw in a hot Scot and a powerful love story and yo, I will time travel all up and down the space time continuum for that.
I’m still not quite finished with the entire series –it’s literally thousands and thousands of pages –but between reading it and watching the series on TV, I’m committed to seeing it through.
Favorite quote: “You’re tearin’ my guts out, Claire.” -Jaimie, Outlander
Read more great quotes and vote for it as your favorite for best American books here: Outlander
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
The only title from the best American books list that also made mine and wouldn’t be classified as a romance earned it’s spot because it was filled with as much heart and beauty as the most powerful love story on the planet. The women in this book just gave me so much life. If you’ve yet to pick it up, I promise it will restore some of the faith in humanity you may’ve lost in recent history.
Favorite Quote: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” -Aibileen, The Help
Read more great quotes from the book and vote for it as your favorite for best American books here: The Help
Be sure to watch the eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels on PBS. And, don’t forget that you can see the entire list of and vote for your favo here: The Great American Read