author George R. R. Martin is notorious for killing off all his characters. But he’s adamant about keeping a love of reading alive in America.
He and other celebrities are contributing to the PBS series The Great American Read, which is asking everyone to cast their vote to determine the most beloved book in the country. And if you ask Martin, the award should go to the series that inspired his own work: Lord of the Rings.
In a preview for the series’ upcoming return on Sept. 11, Martin discusses how books helped him experience the world as a child growing up in the New Jersey Projects. His family couldn’t afford to travel, but great stories transported him to places that only the imagination could buy.
As Martin champions his pick for Most-Loved Book in America, you can see how Tolkien’s trilogy directly influenced the best aspects of Game of Thrones: in-depth history and family lineage, entire worlds contained within the margins of a main story, and — of course — the unexpected deaths of major characters.
While Martin’s choice is clear, PBS wants to hear from the rest of America. Two million people have already voted, but there’s still time to cast yours here by choosing from their list of 100 novels. Martin may be too modest to pick his own beloved fantasy series, but his hordes of fans surely will.
The list boasts a wide variety of other books that span across all genres, from pop culture phenomenons like Game of Thrones, to childhood favorites like Harry Potter, and of course timeless classics like Wuthering Heights. For good measure, they even threw in titles like Twilight (hopefully to prove we’re better than that, America. Right?)
As part of the voting campaign, they’re also paying tribute to a select few of the nominated books with gorgeous travel posters drawn in an early-mid 20th century style. PBS exclusively shared the one for Games ofThrones with Mashable, inviting readers to mentally transport themselves to the steps of King’s Landing on dragon back.
When The Great American Read series returns next month, it will explore common themes found in the list of 100 most beloved books. Host Meredith Vieira will talk to authors, actors, and other celebrities on major literary topics, ranging from heroes, monsters, identity and the magic of imagined universes.
Reading remains one of the most immersive means of escape and reflection, giving us doorways into fantastical new worlds and windows into seeing our own from a different perspective.
It doesn’t matter which book you choose as your winner — as long as you keep yourself open to experiencing the other 99 possibilities waiting behind every cover.
You can catch the series return on PBS this Sept. 11 at 8:00pm ET, and tune in for the winner reveal on Oct. 23.