Two different covers of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Two different covers of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird chosen as America’s best-loved novel in vote

To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 book by Harper Lee emerged as No. 1 in PBS’ The Great American Read survey. More than 4 million votes were cast in the six-month-long contest that put 100 titles to the test. Books that were published as a series counted as a single entry.
By Associated Press | Associated Press
UPDATED ON OCT 25, 2018 01:39 PM IST

To Kill a Mockingbird, a coming-of-age story about racism and injustice, overpowered wizards and time travelers to be voted America’s best-loved novel by readers nationwide.

The 1960 book by Harper Lee emerged as No. 1 in PBS’ The Great American Read survey, whose results were announced Tuesday on the show’s finale. More than 4 million votes were cast in the six-month-long contest that put 100 titles to the test. Books that were published as a series counted as a single entry.

The other top-five finishers in order of votes were Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series about a time-spanning love; J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter boy wizard tales; Jane Austen’s romance Pride and Prejudice; and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fantasy saga.

Turns out the contest was a Mockingbird runaway.

“The novel started out at No. 1 on the first day of the vote, and it never wavered,” series host Meredith Vieira said.

Joining her to sing the book’s praises was writer Aaron Sorkin, whose adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird starts Broadway previews next month, and cast members. Sorkin (known for The West Wing and The Social Network) said reading Lee’s novel was his first brush with “astonishing writing.”

“There is soul-crushing injustice in this book that still exists,” he said. “And at the center, morality, decency and what it is to be a person strikes us.”

LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who portrays Calpurnia in the play, marveled at Lee’s achievement.

“I was most impressed that a woman wrote that way” during that era, the actress said, and that Lee was so “deeply involved on the right side of right.”

Lee’s slender, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel proved enduring enough to overcome the popularity of hefty epics adapted as blockbuster movie franchises (the Potter and Tolkien works) or for TV (Outlander). Even Pride and Prejudice, the 200-year-old inspiration for numerous TV and movie versions and with an army of Janeites devoted to Austen and her work, couldn’t best Lee’s novel.

Debbie Ford of Orion, Illinois, an Outlander fan whose love of the books was showcased on an episode of The Great American Read, expressed disappointment they didn’t win. But she delighted in the attention they — and the joy of reading — received.

“I believe this PBS series has reminded some of us again that reading is important, and it has exposed us to books that we may not ordinarily pick up. And that’s such a good thing!” Ford said in an email Tuesday, adding a friendly plug: “So please go read a book that you have not read before — especially if you haven’t yet discovered Outlander!”

To Kill a Mockingbird has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and remains a fixture on school reading lists. The 1962 screen adaptation won three Oscars, including a best-actor trophy for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of heroic Atticus Finch.

Set in the 1930s South, the book centers on attorney Finch and his young children, daughter Scout and son Jem. When Finch defends an African-American man falsely accused of assaulting a white woman, the trial and its repercussions open Scout’s eyes to the world around her, good and bad.

Lee’s second published novel, Go Set a Watchman, was written in the 1950s before To Kill a Mockingbird but is essentially a sequel. After being put aside by the author, it was rediscovered and released in 2015. Lee died the next year at age 89.

The 100-book list voted on by readers was based on an initial survey of about 7,000 Americans, with an advisory panel of experts organizing the list. Books had to have been published in English but not written in the language, and one book or series per author was allowed. Bookworms could vote once daily for their favorite work.

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Author Durjoy Datta says the idea of love in his books has evolved over time. (Photo: Instagram/DurjoyDatta)
Author Durjoy Datta says the idea of love in his books has evolved over time. (Photo: Instagram/DurjoyDatta)

Durjoy Datta: Criticism used to bother me but now I don’t have energy for anger

By Mallika Bhagat, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 02:22 PM IST
The author popular for exploring romance genre talks about not taking criticism to heart, his ever evolving concept of love, and even shares some words of wisdom for the young writers.
Close
Women's Day: Reese Witherspoon shares this ‘illuminating’ book as her March pick(Instagram/reesewitherspoon)
Women's Day: Reese Witherspoon shares this ‘illuminating’ book as her March pick(Instagram/reesewitherspoon)

Women's Day: Reese Witherspoon shares this ‘illuminating’ book as her March pick

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 01:03 PM IST
  • Ahead of Women’s Day 2021, Hollywood actor Reese Witherspoon shares an ‘exceptionally powerful and illuminating’ book as her March pick after launching a free app for her book club which celebrates ‘diverse voices that put women at the center of their stories’
Close
Priyanka Chopra shares her favourite books by women authors(Instagram/priyankachopra)
Priyanka Chopra shares her favourite books by women authors(Instagram/priyankachopra)

Women's History Month: Priyanka Chopra shares favourite books by female authors

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:09 AM IST
  • Priyanka Chopra recently took to her Instagram stories and shared a few of her favourite books written by female authors in celebration of Women's History Month. Check out the list here:
Close
Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri (Mohit Suneja)
Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri (Mohit Suneja)

Essay: A tribute to Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri

By CP Surendran
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 04:30 PM IST
The work of the Malayalam poet, who died on February 25, invoked an inclusive democracy of kindness and of the coexistence of humans, animals and things
Close
Books on food nostalgia, the uses and excitement of lifelong learning, and colonialism feature on the list of recommended reads this week. (HT Team)
Books on food nostalgia, the uses and excitement of lifelong learning, and colonialism feature on the list of recommended reads this week. (HT Team)

HT Picks: New Reads

By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:30 PM IST
Recipes, nostalgia, the art of picking up new skills, and an exploration of Britain’s strange collective amnesia about its colonial past feature on this week’s reading list
Close
Author Olivia Sudjic (Courtesy Bloomsbury)
Author Olivia Sudjic (Courtesy Bloomsbury)

Interview: Olivia Sudjic, author, Asylum Road

By Simar Bhasin
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:09 PM IST
The author talks about exploring self-destructive impulses and the myths of exceptionalism in her post-Brexit novel
Close
A picture, dated December 20, 2020, of a mural in New Delhi depicting the fight against the corona virus. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A picture, dated December 20, 2020, of a mural in New Delhi depicting the fight against the corona virus. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Review: Covid-19: Separating Fact from Fiction by Anirban Mahapatra

By Sukumar Ranganathan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:36 PM IST
Anirban Mahapatra’s book places the coronavirus disease pandemic in the context of the science of viruses and viral pandemics
Close
The book, titled "Dynasty to Democracy: The Untold Story of Smriti Irani's Triumph", traces Union Minister Irani's journey from her defeat in 2014 to her victory in the Congress stronghold of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.(Amazon)
The book, titled "Dynasty to Democracy: The Untold Story of Smriti Irani's Triumph", traces Union Minister Irani's journey from her defeat in 2014 to her victory in the Congress stronghold of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.(Amazon)

Book on Smriti Irani's victory in Amethi to release in English

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 04:57 PM IST
The English translation of journalist-author Anant Vijay's book "Amethi Sangram: Aitihasik Jeet Ankahi Dastan" will be released on March 15, announced publishing house Westland on Friday.
Close
Cecilia Ahern's book 'Roar' to be aired as female-driven dark-comic Apple series(Twitter/SairaHussain90/Cecelia_Ahern/delirium_nerd)
Cecilia Ahern's book 'Roar' to be aired as female-driven dark-comic Apple series(Twitter/SairaHussain90/Cecelia_Ahern/delirium_nerd)

Cecelia Ahern's book 'Roar' to be aired as female-driven dark-comic Apple series

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:02 PM IST
  • Irish author Cecelia Ahern's book 'Roar', which was a female-driven anthology of 30 short stories, to be screened on Apple TV+ as an 8-episode series starring Emmy and Golden Globe award winners Nicole Kidman, Alison Brie, Cynthia Erivo and Merritt Wever
Close
King, 77, will also write about her activism on behalf of women in tennis and beyond, and such private struggles as an eating disorder and acknowledging her sexual identity.(Amazon)
King, 77, will also write about her activism on behalf of women in tennis and beyond, and such private struggles as an eating disorder and acknowledging her sexual identity.(Amazon)

Billie Jean King memoir 'All In' to be published in August

AP, New York
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:52 AM IST
Billie Jean King has a memoir coming this summer, and she calls it a journey to her “authentic self.”
Close
As the warming world faces raging forest fires, rising seas and increasingly erratic weather, the United States has seen a boom in books about climate change.(Unsplash)
As the warming world faces raging forest fires, rising seas and increasingly erratic weather, the United States has seen a boom in books about climate change.(Unsplash)

Worried about climate change? There's a book for that.

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:24 PM IST
Books titled “Trees in Trouble” and “How We’re F—ing Up Our Planet” scream out from the shelves of Barnes and Noble’s nature and wildlife section between reassuring tomes on hummingbirds and wildflowers.
Close
Ira Mukhoty at Bada Imambara on her recent visit to Lucknow (Sourced photo)
Ira Mukhoty at Bada Imambara on her recent visit to Lucknow (Sourced photo)

Ira Mukhoty: I want to talk about strong women of Nawabi era

By Deep Saxena
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:43 PM IST
Author Ira Mukhoty is researching her first book on Awadh. Having penned ‘Heroines: Powerful Indian Women of Myth and History’, ‘Daughters of the Sun: Empresses, Queens and Begums of the Mughal Empire’ and ‘Akbar: The Great Mughal’, the Delhite spent about a week in Lucknow hunting down facts for her book.
Close
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021). (Elsa Dorfman via Wikimedia Commons)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021). (Elsa Dorfman via Wikimedia Commons)

Essay: The importance of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

By Chintan Girish Modi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 05:38 PM IST
The courtroom drama around Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s publication of Alan Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), that focussed on the defence of free expression, provides a case study for contemporary writers, filmmakers, and stand-up comedians in other parts of the world facing censorship
Close
The story of that Indian-origin barrister, George Edalji, has now been dug up in detail and brought to life in a new book by London-based historian-author Shrabani Basu(Amazon)
The story of that Indian-origin barrister, George Edalji, has now been dug up in detail and brought to life in a new book by London-based historian-author Shrabani Basu(Amazon)

New book uncovers Indian mystery probed by Sherlock Holmes author

PTI, London
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 10:27 AM IST
Arthur Conan Doyle was drawn to investigate just one real-life crime during his lifetime and it involved a British Indian man wrongly accused of a series of mysterious crimes in an English village in the early 20th century.
Close
On this week’s reading list: a portrayal of the publishing world in India, lessons from the unusual career of a civil servant, and a critique of illiberalism and violence in Indian politics. (HT Team)
On this week’s reading list: a portrayal of the publishing world in India, lessons from the unusual career of a civil servant, and a critique of illiberalism and violence in Indian politics. (HT Team)

HT Picks; New Reads

By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:46 PM IST
This week’s list of interesting reads includes a satire on the Indian publishing scene, insights from the career trajectory of an atypical bureaucrat, and a critique of the illiberal forces that dominate our lives
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP