This is America’s favorite novel, according to 4 million votes

Books have an incredible power to change lives. They can give you the strength to make huge decisions, tap into your deepest emotions, and introduce you to new ways of thinking. With hundreds of millions of titles to choose from, it can be impossible to pick a favorite, but PBS wanted to try.

For the series The Great American Read, literary experts crafted a list of 100 popular novels. The titles were diverse; no two books by the same author appeared, and the publication dates ranged from the 1600s to 2016. PBS then presented that list to about 7,200 Americans, who gave a whopping total of four million votes expressing their favorites.

One title shot to the top of the list within the first week and didn’t waver for the entire five-month voting period: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

The result isn’t surprising. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story about racism in a Southern town through the eyes of a young while girl sells more than a million copies every year and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide since its debut in 1960. When the author’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, hit the shelves in 2015, it broke a record for the most first-day sales at Barnes & Noble and immediately became the top seller on Amazon. This is the surprising reason To Kill a Mockingbird became so famous.

RELATED: See the author over the years 

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Harper Lee through the years
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Harper Lee through the years
circa 1960: American author Harper Lee smiling. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, in local courthouse while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
In an August 31, 2001, file image at the Stage Coach Cafe in Stockton, Ala., the author Harper Lee, who wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' A recently-discovered sequel, 'Go Set a Watchman,' is due to be published in July 2015. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Writer Harper Lee attends the reception prior to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles 2005 Awards Dinner honoring Harper Lee at the Richard J. Riordan Central Library on May 19, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Writer Harper Lee (R) receives her award at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles 2005 Awards Dinner honoring Harper Lee at the City National Plaza on May 19, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
Harper Lee (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage)
Author Harper Lee (center) signs an original edition of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MARCH 13: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Playwright Horton Foote and writer Harper Lee listen to actor Dame Edna read a poem as Foote is honored by the Signature Theatre Company on the eve of his 90th birthday at the Ritz Carlton March 13, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) hangs a Presidential Medal of Freedom on the neck of Harper Lee (C), Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' during a presentation ceremony for the medal's 2007 recipients in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President George W. Bush (R) takes Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee by the arm before presenting her with the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05: Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Copies of Harper Lee's 'Go Set a Watchman' are on display as part of a global release at a bookstore in Seoul on July 14, 2015. Copies of Lee's eagerly awaited, but controversial second novel flew off the shelves more than half a century after the groundbreaking success of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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To Kill a Mockingbird had some tough competition. Topping out the rest of The Great American Read‘s top five, in order, were The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R Tolkien. The top choices show that not only can newer series like Harry Potter become instant classics, but 19th-century stories like Pride and Prejudice can stand the test of time. If you still haven’t read those yet, you’ll want to—along with these 50 books you should read before you’re 50.

RELATED: 10 books everybody should read

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10 books from high school we should read again
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10 books from high school we should read again
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