You've probably heard the concerns about whether people are still reading the way they once did. The answer isn't a simple yes or no. About 74 percent of Americans say they've read at least one book in the last 12 months. The way Americans consume books has changed, though. Print books are still the most popular format at 67 percent, but audiobooks are on the rise, from 14 percent in 2012 to 18 percent in 2016.
There are as many favorite novels as there are personalities. If you're serious, you can find a book with deep meaning. If you love humor, there are comedies and romantic comedies available. If you enjoy things truly out of this world, go for sci-fi or paranormal reads. A great place to start is by reading great novels other Americans love. PBS has created a series called the Great American Read, where they focus on books that stick with people long after they finish the last page.
If your heart's desire is a novel that keeps you up late into the night turning pages, then suspense is the right genre for you. Books in the suspense genre make your heart race, get your adrenaline pumping and help you see the world in a new way.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a must-read if you love suspense novels. Susie Salmon tells the story—the twist is that Susie is no longer alive, but she's keeping a watchful eye over her family while they try to figure out who killed her. The Lovely Bones is a unique story told from a different perspective than usual.
Do you love a nail-biting thriller? Try Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. The book looks at some hard-to-solve cases and follows the main character Alex Cross as he works alongside a fierce female Secret Service agent to stop a criminal mastermind. Once you've finished Along Came a Spider, you'll want to grab Patterson's sequel Kiss the Girls.
If you enjoy nothing more than cuddling up on the sofa with a cup of hot cocoa and a good Hallmark Channel movie, then romance is probably your genre of choice. You can rely on a happy ending and a love that lasts forever.
Some of the more popular books in recent years have traditional romantic elements with unique characters or settings. For example, Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook follows the story of Allie and Noah as they fall in love and fight to overcome the social barriers of class. The ending also offers a bittersweet twist to this classic romantic tale.
Twilight was one of the most popular young adult book series in the early 2000s. The books share the story of a unique romance between a human girl and a vampire set in Forks, Washington. With a bit of mystery, suspense, romance and action, you'll love the Twilight saga books if you like cutting-edge stories.
Supernatural elements make for a unique book that captures the imagination and makes the impossible seem possible. If you like superheroes, enjoy a good space movie or have a curiosity for the unexplained, then check out some supernatural-themed books other people love.
The Shack by William Paul Young follows the path of a father whose daughter was murdered. He goes to a shack in the woods, where he has a supernatural experience with God.
Rudolfo Anaya wrote Bless Me, Ultima. Though it isn't as well-known as some of the other books mentioned here, it talks about the relationships people share and introduces a woman who has tapped into magic.
Finding Great Books
How can you find the best books America has to offer? Start by watching bestseller lists. If other people are buying a book in droves, it is likely an excellent book. You should also join online book discussion groups on sites such as Goodreads, BookBub and via Facebook groups.
"The Great American Read: The Book of Books" lists the 100 books in the PBS series and shares information you won't find anywhere else about each book, author and why the book is relevant to America at this time. It's a great resource to find new reading material.
What book do you think is a new American great?