Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service is going to celebrate America’s most-loved works of fiction with local events in Durango this summer.
Last year, PBS surveyed more than 7,000 people to compile a list of the most-loved novels in the country, including classics and popular fiction.
The initial list of more than 1,000 was narrowed to the top 100 by literary professionals. The top 100 are the basis for a television series called “The Great American Read,” focusing on how and why authors create fictional works, how readers are affected and what the books say about the nation, according to PBS.org.
This summer, viewers will select America’s best-loved work of fiction from the list through an online poll and social media outlets.
Rocky Mountain PBS staff is planning events around “The Great American Read” novels and other beloved stories to help encourage discussion during a politically divided time, said Bliss Bruen, a PBS community engagement and media strategist.
“When you talk about a book you love, you are talking personally, but you are not trying to really change someone’s mind about something, just open them up to a story that they would also enjoy or find important,” she said.
Durangoans love to read, as evidenced by the town’s five bookstores, and many of the titles on the top 100 list can be found at those shops, Bruen said.
Rocky Mountain PBS is also installing a free little library outside the front door of the Powerhouse Science Center that will be stocked with books from “The Great American Read” list, she said.
A ribbon-cutting for the free little library will be held Thursday for bibliophiles of all kinds. There are additional events, including a film screening and discussions in the works, and Bruen welcomes additional ideas for gatherings.
“Our goal is to get as many Durango locals as we can reading, connecting with one another, discussing their favorite books,” she said.
PBS staff also plans to feature interviews with Durango residents talking about their favorite books on the network’s website. Additional Rocky Mountain PBS coverage of the Four Corners is likely to be forthcoming because a producer in residence is now working at the Fort Lewis College Ballantine Media Center, mentoring journalism students, Bruen said.
Those interested in being interviewed about their favorite novel can sign up at one of Durango’s five bookstores, where interviews will take place.
If your favorite book doesn’t happen to be on the list, your reflections are still welcome, Bruen said.
Residents may also submit written or recorded answers to the question: “Which novel has had the biggest impact on your life?” at pbs.org/the-great-american-read.
In the fall, when “The Great American Read” series airs, Bruen expects there will be several local watch parties, although those have not been scheduled.
The kick off to The Great American Read events in Durango will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Powerhouse, 1333 Camino del Rio.