Melissa Locker
November 14, 2018

America has chosen its favorite novel and it happens to be a Southern classic. For the eight-part PBS television series The Great American Read, literature experts put together a list of 100 diverse novels and asked the public to vote on a favorite.

It wasn’t an easy job, because the titles were as diverse as the country. They ranged from young adult favorites like Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia series to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, classics like Little Women, Don Quixote, and The Count of Monte Cristo and pop gems like James Patterson’s Alex Cross Mysteries series, Twilight, and VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. How do you choose between Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Wilson Rawls heartbreaker, Where the Red Fern Grows?

PBS presented the list to around 7,200 Americans, who weighed in a whopping total of four million times to narrow down the many options and pick their favorites. Heading into the final week of voting, the top 10 books were:

  1. E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web
  2. C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (series)
  3. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
  4. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (series)
  5. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
  6. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (series)
  8. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (series)
  9. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
  10. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

After five months of whittling down the list, the voters finally came to their verdict: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is the best-loved novel. While you have to admire the voting process, any Southerner could have spared them the effort. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story shows life in a Southern town as seen through the eyes of Scout Finch as she watches her father, Atticus Finch, bravely defend a man falsely accused of a crime.

“I’m not surprised at all that Americans chose To Kill a Mockingbird as their best-loved novel,” said Meredith Vieira who hosted the PBS program. “It is a personal favorite of mine – one that truly opened my eyes to a world outside of my own. Harper Lee’s iconic work of literature is cherished for its resonance, its life lessons and its impact on one’s own moral compass.”

The book about racial tolerance and understanding is a perennial favorite, selling more than a million copies every year more than 40 million copies worldwide since it debuted in 1960.