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The Great American Read

What is your favorite book? Come on a journey with us! The summer-long Great American Read initiative is officially underway. Watch the series right here, where we'll begin the hunt for America's best book. Read local stories. Tell us how many you've read. And explore America’s 100 favorite novels. Over summer we’ll spotlight books and reading with features, lists, quizzes, and archival interviews, so continue to show your love of reading by joining us here!

The Chicago Area Publishing Company That Discovers Overlooked Talent

Since the Chicago area is not a publishing hub, Agate Publishing is easy to overlook. But its location outside a hub of the industry lets it find overlooked talent: it published the debut novels of Jesmyn Ward and Kiese Laymon, and has a current National Book Award contender in Burn the Place.

A New PBS Show That Lets Kids Learn from the Example of Historical Heroes

In Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, the main characters meet historical figures as children and learn from the values that they model to help surmount their own issues. “We all have these qualities that these historical figures had," says the illustrator behind the series.

What's America's Favorite Novel?

Did your favorite novel come out first in The Great American Read's search for America's best-loved book? Find the top ten books by voting here, and learn insights from the results.

What Makes People Ban Books?

The American Library Assocation's Office for Intellectual Freedom is currently hosting Banned Books Week. What kinds of books were most frequently challenged in 2017, and what books from The Great America Read's list of America's favorite novels have been banned?

Working Towards a Fully Literate Society

One in six adults, or 35 million people, read below a fourth-grade level in the United States. The Chicago Literacy Alliance is working to change that, by bringing together organizations with similar goals and fostering collaboration amongst them.

‘The Minaturist’ Recap: Part Three

Johannes is put on trial while Marin's secret creates its own difficulties. Nella tries to save the brother and sister from doom by taking over the household while also searching for the mysterious miniaturist, hoping that she might hold some answers.

Even More of Chicago's Favorite Indie Bookstores

Discover the stories behind more of Chicago's favorite indie bookstores on the South Side, including a legendary, long-lived one that counts Barack and Michelle Obama amongst its fans.

More of Chicago's Beloved Independent Bookstores

Independent bookstores remain an irreplaceable asset, with their staff recommendations and sense of community. We've already featured three Chicago stalwarts, but here are the stories of a few more of the city's beloved indie bookstores.

How Volunteers Help Improve the Quality of Life for Women in Prison Through Books

Last year, Illinois spent less than $300 on prison libraries, and access is often very limited. So Chicago Books to Women in Prison does exactly what its name says. “By helping women have a better quality of life while in prison, that's just better for their family and the community they'll be returning to," says a volunteer.

Chicago's Independent Bookstores

If you love books, you probably also love bookstores, and independent bookstores remain irreplaceable gems, with their staff recommendations, unusual selections, and sense of community. Discover the stories behind a few of Chicago's beloved indie bookstores.

What 'Chicago Tonight' Is Reading This Summer

Need some new book recommendations for the summer? Discover some of the books the Chicago Tonight team is reading right now.

Summer Reading List: Chicago Authors Share 12 Picks for 2018

Summer is the time to enjoy the great outdoors, and sometimes the best companion for lazy afternoon lounging is a good book. From mysteries and thrillers to science fiction and young adult novels, a good book will transport you to another time and another place. We asked professors and writers Michael Barsa, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Al Gini to give us their top 2018 summer reading selections.

book covers

What Classic Novel Character Are You?

Are you adventurous like Tom Sawyer? Fierce like Jo March? Just like Atticus Finch? Indomitable like Celie? Find out which classic literary character you are and get a reading list for your personality from The Great American Read's list of America's best-loved novels.

Picture from shooting the web series Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis

How a Harry Potter Fan Reimagined the Characters As She Saw Them

Chicago native Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael, the creator of the web series Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis, had never heard of the Harry Potter books until she was in college. One of her younger brother’s classmates was reading the most recent volume of the popular series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and her brother wanted to read it too.

The Great American Read logo and books

How Many of America's 100 Favorite Books Have You Read?

PBS's The Great American Read has created a list of America's 100 most-loved novels, ranging from classics to sci-fi to romance to humor. See how many you've read, before the series premieres and voting on America's favorite book opens on May 22.

Book spines

Can You Guess the Book by Its Cover?

We're always being told not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case you should: can you identify 20 books from The Great American Read's list of America's 100 favorite novels by just their covers? Test your knowledge here, and get reading!

Louisa May Alcott

Beyond 'Little Women': Louisa May Alcott's Other Writings

Louisa May Alcott may be best-known for her classic Little Women, but she also wrote racy potboilers in which women transgress societal norms under a pseudonym that wasn't traced to her until decades after death, as well as children's fables and moralisti young adult books.

Little Women photo

America's Favorite Novels, in TV Form

PBS loves books. From Masterpiece adaptations of classic novels to documentaries about authors, literature plays a big role in our programming. As we celebrate reading with The Great American Read, discover which of America's favorite novels, plus some other worthy books, can be seen on TV.

Chicago elevated train

12 Iconic Works of Chicago Literature

When the rest of the world thinks of Chicago, it's often in terms borrowed from literature: "Hog Butcher for the World," a city of slaughterhouses, a gritty, working-class town. What are some of the most iconic literary depictions of the city?

Hear from the Authors

John Green being interviwed

John Green on The Interview Show

John Green discusses his newest book, Turtles All the Way Down, his anxiety, and more with Mark Bazer on The Interview Show.

Gillian Flynn in car with Mark Bazer

My Chicago: Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn gives Mark Bazer a tour of her Chicago neighborhood and hangouts with her husband Brett Flynn on My Chicago.

John Green in car with Mark Bazer

My Chicago: John Green

John Green revisits old Chicago haunts while talking about writing and his life in the city with Mark Bazer on My Chicago.

Gillian Flynn on WTTW

Author Gillian Flynn Talks ‘Sharp Objects,’ #MeToo Movement and More

The Chicago-based, bestselling author of “Gone Girl” talks about her newly adapted HBO miniseries and more.

John Updike on WTTW

From the Archive: John Updike

"Nobody needs a book much, do they?" It's a surprising sentiment to hear coming from a writer, but in this 1981 interview with WTTW's John Callaway, John Updike discusses his impressively humble views on literature, his existential anxieties, and his goals as a writer.


From the Archive: 'Dune' Author Frank Herbert

The author of the world's best-selling science fiction novel discusses the broad base of knowledge he draws on in imagining other worlds, as well as his environmentalism. "I refuse to be put in the position of having to tell my grandchildren, 'I'm sorry, there's no more world for you, we used it all up.'"

Toni Morrison

From the Archive: Toni Morrison

In 1977, Toni Morrison spoke to WTTW's John Callaway about empathy, the importance of storytelling, and her deep love of writing in an extraordinary interview. Watch the Nobel Prize-winning novelist speak honestly early in her career.

Alice Walker

From the Archive: Alice Walker

The Great American Read's list of America's 100 most-loved books has been revealed, and it includes Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 The Color Purple. Revisit a 2013 interview with Walker on Chicago Tonight. "I go where my heart says I need to be," she says.


Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Season 3 Episode 3

Louisa and Larry are away in England, where Larry feels at home amongst a group of bohemians and Louisa finds herself in several odd predicaments. Back on Corfu, Gerry begins a crusade on behalf of donkeys while Margo attempts to reconcile Turks and Greeks.


'Poldark' Recap: Season 4 Episode 3

George hatches a plan to get back at Ross for taking his Parliamentary seat, while Caroline and Dwight delight in a new arrival – though Dwight is beginning to be apprehensive. Demelza deals with a crisis at the mine and a lovelorn Drake.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Season 3 Episode 2

Leslie is now only dating one girl, but one of his former girlfriends soon complicates the situation. The Durrells deal with a sad event that sends Louisa and Larry back to England, while Margo's old flame tries to win her back and Gerry examines insects.


'Poldark' Recap: Season 4 Episode 2

The powers that be are searching for someone to run against George for Parliament, but Armitage seems too sickly. What other dashing man might they choose? Demelza and Caroline help along that decision, while Sam gets drawn into a wrestling match.

Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Season 3 Episode 1

The Durrells are back, and with Louisa, Larry, and Margo all taking a break from romance, you'd think there would be less tumult in their lives. But Leslie, of all people, is dating – three women at once. The rest of the family try to force him to choose one.


'Poldark' Recap: Season 4 Episode 1

Poldark is back, with all its romance, drama, and attractive landscapes (and people)! Demelza reckons with her relationship with Armitage, Sam and Drake are implicated in a dangerous situation, and rich lords search for a candidate to run against George in Parliament.

The Miniaturist

'The Miniaturist' Recap: Part Three

Johannes is put on trial while Marin's secret creates its own difficulties. Nella tries to save the brother and sister from doom by taking over the household while also searching for the mysterious miniaturist, hoping that she might hold some answers.

The Miniaturist

'The Miniaturist' Recap: Part Two

As Nella reckons with her husband's secret, she begins to discover more hidden affairs within her household and continues to investigate the seemingly all-known miniaturist. Things go badly awry for Otto, then Johannes, and then Marin.

The Miniaturist

'The Miniaturist' Recap: Part One

When the young Nella marries the wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, she is thrust into a house full of secrets, not least of which is her wedding gift: a miniature replica of the home that seems to have power over reality.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Three Pregnancies and a Stabbing

Pregnancies abound amongst the Durrells' friends, but their timing – plus a crime of passion – means the doctor has his hands full. Leslie, Louisa, and Spyros all step in as nurses, with various degrees of experience. As usual, Larry misses it all.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: A Friendly Match

A cricket match between the British and Greeks, despite Louisa's insistence that it's a show of comity between the cultures, becomes a competition between Spyros and Hugh. Donald tries to attract Margo by being exotic, while Larry tries to dump Vasilia.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Storms and Spirits

An apocalyptic storm puts everyone in an ominous mood and traps all the Durrells inside, including Larry, who's at home suffering from the mumps. Things get worse when Aunt Hermione arrives with a psychic friend who offers to hold a seance.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: At Your Age

Louisa is having a mid-life crisis. She's feeling old, now that Larry has moved out and taken up with a beautiful young woman and Sven supposedly has a youthful girlfriend. Gerry has been assigned a stodgy new tutor, and Leslie has taken up photography.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu': Write or Wrong

Larry's first novel has just been published in England, but no one in his family has read his book, driving a rift between him and especially his mother. Louisa tries to improve as a parent by organizing a reading and finding Gerry a tutor. And everyone gets drunk.

The Durrells in Corfu

'The Durrells in Corfu' Recap: Toad in the Hole

The Durrells are back, and they have a fierce new landlord. Louisa attempts to make money at market but attracts only another Brit interested more in her than her wares. Margo wants to become a nun, Gerry wants to breed otters, and Leslie does something dumb.

The Durrells in Corfu

Who are the Durrells from Corfu?

Zany as they seem, the family and friends in The Durrells in Corfu are based on real people: a naturalist, a famous novelist, a polymath. Meet some of the illustrious Durrells and the other characters they met during their real-life stay in Corfu.


'Poldark' Recap: Belief is a Beautiful Thing

Did you miss the season finale of Poldark? Demelza makes a decisive choice regarding Armstrong while Rowella and Morwenna stand up to Osborne. George makes trouble for Drake, while Elizabeth gives George an ultimatum.


'Poldark' Recap: Life is Short and Love is Long

Morwenna's husband is abusive, Elizabeth's partner is shunning her, Demelza's spouse is difficult and secretive; the women of Poldark are cruelly treated. But Demelza begins to consider another option, and Morwenna's sister swoops in with a plan...


'Poldark' Recap: Romance, Regret, and Revenge

Demelza continues to attract the attention of a dashing soldier while Ross becomes increasingly difficult and ends up giving George more power. Morwenna's marriage is dreadful. Agatha, in crisis, corrupts George and Elizabeth's relationship.


'Poldark' Recap: Treachery, Trauma, and Toads

George schemes to ruin Drake, and Ross and Demelza search for a way to save the boy. But Demelza may hold the power to rescue him, if she makes a terrible choice. Dwight and Caroline's relationship founders in the wake of his traumatic prison experience.


'Poldark' Recap: Ross to the Rescue

Ross adds action hero to his list of roles as he and his friends conduct a dangerous prison break to save Dwight. Drake and Demelza struggle to break things off, but George and Elizabeth force Osborne into the picture in exchange for social influence.


'Poldark' Recap: A Clever Ruse

The Poldark family grows bigger but they're eager to help the starving villagers during this Christmas season – even better if it angers George. Meanwhile, the Warleggan master is using Morwenna as a bargaining chip to gain social influence.


'Poldark' Recap: A Reconnaissance Mission

Ross has left a pregnant Demelza behind for France to discover where Dwight is, and whether he's still alive. George wants to become burgess, but his ambitions lead Elizabeth to look for a coping mechanism. Sam and Drake seek to start a church.


'Poldark' Recap: Lost at Sea

When ships disappear at sea, Caroline and Elizabeth's cousin Verity worry that their husbands were on board. George angles for a powerful new position, but is in competition with Ross... not that Ross is interested. Morwenna and Drake are hitting it off.. with Geoffrey Charles as third wheel.


'Poldark' Recap: A Black Moon

He's back! Captain Ross Poldark embarks on a third season of smoldering sensuality, questionable life decisions, and reckless heroics. In this first part of the special first episode, Dwight and Caroline get closer, Demelza's brothers appear, and Elizabeth has her baby.

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