The votes are in!
According to the PBS Great American Read, America’s all-time favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee! If you read my first blog post about the Great American Read, you know that To Kill a Mockingbird is also my personal favorite. I was thrilled when I learned the results in the Grand Finale episode. Host Meredith Vieira shared that it started out in the number one spot since the day voting began, and it never wavered.
You may now be wondering what is Davenport’s favorite book? Ever since PBS kicked off the first episode of The Great American Read on May 22, 2018, we’ve had a display featuring these books at each of our three Davenport Public Libraries. We put out a ballot box, asking for your favorites. I also took votes in the form of responses to my blog posts about the Great American Read. In all, 124 votes were submitted. The favorite book among Davenport Public Library users is (drumroll, please)…
Harry Potter! Earning just shy of 13% of all votes, the bestselling series by J.K. Rowling was the top pick of voters at Main, Eastern and on the blog. (Fairmount showed no clear favorite, but submitted 26 votes for 23 different books.) Second favorite overall was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, with almost 9% of the votes. In third place was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, with a solid 6% of votes. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen took fourth place with almost 5% of votes. We had a four-way tie for 5th place – Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, Memoirs of a Geisha and To Kill a Mockingbird.
If you’re wondering about any titles from the Great American Read list that was not mentioned here, I have tagged to this blog each book title that received at least one vote from our wonderful Davenport Public Library patrons.
Thanks for voting and keep reading through the list!
Artemis is the second Sci-Fi novel written by Andy Weir. I loved Weir’s first book, The Martian, and also the movie based on it, even though I am not typically a Sci-Fi reader. I thought it was smart and funny, with just the right amount of suspense. That is just how I like my books. Therefore, I was eager to read Artemis. I checked out the audiobook version, read by Rosario Dawson (she’s great!).
The main thing Artemis had in common with The Martian is that the characters are living somewhere other than Earth. Beyond that, they are very different. Artemis is still smartly written, but I didn’t find it quite as funny. Artemis is grittier.
In The Martian, an astronaut named Mark struggles to survive alone on the red planet after a mishap leaves him accidentally abandoned by his research team. I know, it doesn’t sound funny at all. But Mark is a character with a very good sense of humor, despite his dire situation. I rooted for him the entire time. By contrast, Artemis is a futuristic moon colony populated by many humans (some live there, others are just visiting). Artemis’ protagonist, Jasmine, is a young, jaded crook. She starts out as a petty smuggler, but things escalate, intensely and quickly. Maybe other readers would feel differently, but I kept hoping that she would get busted for her antics. Still, every misstep she takes is entertaining.
A self-described “space nerd,” Weir describes the scientific principles of living in outer space in a way that is pretty easy for a novice to grasp. I’m no expert, but it sure seems like he knows what he’s writing about. I recently read the Moon Base Alpha series by Stuart Gibbs with my 10 year old son, and many things are echoed in those books. For example, EVA (Extravehicular Activity) suits are described almost exactly the same in both books, by the two different authors.
I have since started reading Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan. It is rather amusing to see how Sci-Fi writing has changed over the years. Who knows? This may compel me to read more Sci-Fi / Fantasy as time goes on .
Just looking at the title, one would assume that this movie is just about space, presumably Mars. But you would be wrong. The Martian is a story of survival that just happens to take place on Mars.
Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon, is accidentally left behind on Mars after his crew mates erroneously presumed that he was dead. Watney must figure out how he is going to survive with some meager supplies. Surviving in the wilderness on Earth can be quite challenging in itself. One must find food and clean water as well as have shelter from predators and the elements. Imagine having all of these problems plus needing to have a supply of oxygen and protect one self from the hostile environment on Mars.
“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab beaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen. I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah.” – Mark Watney
And yet, Mark Watney manages to find a way to stay alive. And he does so with a sense of humor. Even in a tense situation, while you are sitting on the edge of your seat, Watney will figure out a way to make you laugh as he himself laughs at danger. He makes contact with NASA and finds out that it will take a very long time for them to rescue him. The question becomes, will Mark Watney be able to stay alive long enough so that he can be rescued?
Nominated for Best Picture and for Best Actor, Matt Damon. The Martian won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical and for Best Actor, Matt Damon, in a Comedy of Musical. Do not let the Golden Globe Awards fool you. Even though The Martian has funny moments, it is not a comedy.
The Martian is based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir which is also available at the Davenport Public Library.