‘Mock­ing­bird’ wins vote as Amer­ica’s best‑loved

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Lynn El­ber AP Tele­vi­sion Writer

LOS AN­GE­LES — “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird,” a com­ing-ofage 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 re­cently on the show’s fi­nale. More than 4 mil­lion votes were cast in the 6-month­long 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 times­pan­ning 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 its praises was writer Aaron Sorkin, whose adap­ta­tion of “Mock­ing­bird” starts Broad­way pre­views next month, and cast mem­bers. Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “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-yearold 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!”

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