MontanaPBS Hopes to Find Montana’s Best-Loved Novel

November 21, 2018

MISSOULA – As part of the nationwide search for America’s best-loved novel on the PBS-sponsored “The Great American Read,” a panel of seven Montana literary experts set out to determine the state’s best-loved novel through “The Great Montana Read.”

“‘The Great Montana Read’ is an exciting collaboration, encouraging conversation and celebration around the Treasure State’s rich literary tradition,” said Sarah Aronson, host of Montana Public Radio’s “The Write Question.” Aronson wrote and hosted video segments featuring each book.

To vote, visit the MontanaPBS website, watch the videos and decide on a favorite from the list of 20 books at Voting continues through Saturday, Dec. 1.

The books selected for “The Great Montana Read” are:

  • “The Big Sky,” A.B. Guthrie
  • “Winter Wheat,” Mildred Walker
  • “Winter in the Blood,” James Welch
  • “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” Emily Danforth
  • “Perma Red,” Debra Magpie Earling
  • “A River Runs Through It,” Norman MacLean
  • “Fools Crow,” James Welch
  • “This House of Sky,” Ivan Doig
  • “Legends of the Fall,” Jim Harrison
  • “The Surrounded,” D’Arcy McNickle
  • “The Ploughman,” Kim Zupan
  • “The Last Good Kiss,” James Crumley
  • “English Creek,” Ivan Doig
  • “Canada,” Richard Ford
  • “Fourth of July Creek,” Smith Henderson
  • “Hattie Big Sky,” Kirby Larson
  • “Letters from Yellowstone,” Diane Smith
  • “Blind Your Ponies,” Stanley Gordon West
  • “Last Bus to Wisdom,” Ivan Doig
  • “A Yellow Raft in Blue Water,” Michael Dorris

“Getting to the top 20 was not easy,” Aronson said. “The judges considered many books and authors, and many tough decisions were made.”

The volunteer judges independently identified their top 25 best-loved works of fiction, with the following guidelines: The author or the book’s content needed to have firm connections to Montana. Though the scope was limited to full-length works of fiction, exceptions to this, such as Ivan Doig’s memoir, “This House of Sky,” and Jim Harrison’s novella, “Legends of the Fall,” qualified because they were independently selected by the majority of the judges.

In all, 31 books were named as potentials for Montana’s best-loved novel. Though the narrowing process was tough, the judges’ selections were compiled into the top 20 list of books.  The final list features books published within an 80-year time span, including stunning debuts and heartfelt finales from established and emerging authors. Classics, like James Welch’s “Fools Crow,” are featured alongside contemporary contributions such as Emily Danforth’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”

Partners for The Great Montana Read include: the Montana Library Association, Humanities Montana, the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, UM Creative Writing Department, MontanaPBS and Montana Public Radio.

MontanaPBS (KUFM-TV in Missoula, KUSM-TV in Bozeman, KUKL-TV in Kalispell, KBGS-TV in Billings, KUGF-TV in Great Falls and KUHM-TV in Helena) is a service of UM and Montana State University.

For more information, visit


Contact: Ray Ekness, director, UM Broadcast Media Center, 406-243-4154,