Tuesday, September 23, 2014

100 Books That Stayed With Most Of Us

So hey, how about that meme that was going around Facebook recently (a couple-few weeks ago) on the 10 books that have stayed with you? (Side question: is Tuesday here at the blog morphing from Wildcard Day to Social Media Day? Maybe!) You may or may not have seen that some researchers crunched the numbers and generated a Top-100 list from the aggregate data. If you are a regular reader round here, you may have a slightly better chance of being aware that I am fascinated with lists and checking off my own experiences against them. So, here's the list of 100 most-cited books, with the one's I've read bolded:

1 Harry Potter series, JK Rowling (named in 21.08 per cent of lists)
2 To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (14.48%)
3 The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (13.86%)
4 The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien (7.48%)
5 Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (7.28%)
6 The Holy Bible (named in 7.21% of lists)
7 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (5.97%)
8 The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins (5.82%)
9 The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger (5.7%)
10 The Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis (5.63%)
11 The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald (5.61%)
12 1984, George Orwell (5.37%)
13 Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (5.26%)
14 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë (5.23%)
15 The Stand, Stephen King (5.11%)
16 Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (4.95%)

17 A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (4.38%)
18 The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (4.27%)
19 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis (4.05%)
20 The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (4.01%)
21 Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery (the percentages drop off pretty fast after the top 20)
22 The Giver, Lois Lowry
23 The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
24 Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
25 The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
26 Lord of the Flies, William Golding
27 The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
28 The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
29 Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
30 Hamlet, William Shakespeare
31 The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
32 Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
33 Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
34 Animal Farm, George Orwell
35 The Book of Mormon
36 The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
37 Dune, Frank Herbert
38 One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
39 The Autobiography of Malcolm X
40 Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
41 The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
42 The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
43 On the Road, Jack Kerouac
44 Lamb, Christopher Moore

45 Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
46 A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
47 Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
48 The Help, Kathryn Stockett
49 The Outsiders, SE Hinton
50 American Gods, Neil Gaiman
51 Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
52 Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
53 The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
54 Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
55 The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
56 Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
57 The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
58 Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
59 A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
60 Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
61 Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
62 Night, Elie Wiesel
63 The Dark Tower Series, Stephen King
64 Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
65 The Color Purple, Alice Walker
66 A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
67 The Art of War, Sun Tzu
68 Catch 22, Joseph Heller
69 The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
70 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
71 The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
72 Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
73 Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
74 The Road, Cormac McCarthy
75 Watership Down, Richard Adams
76 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
77 Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
78 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
79 A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin
80 Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
81 Charlotte's Web, EB White
82 The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
83 Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

84 Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
85 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
86 The Shack, William P Young
87 Watchmen, Alan Moore
88 Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
89 The Odyssey, Homer
90 The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
91 The Stranger, Albert Camus
92 Call of the Wild, Jack London
93 The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
94 Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
95 East of Eden, John Steinbeck
96 Matilda, Roald Dahl
97 The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
98 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
99 Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Gárcia Márquez
100 Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

And, of course, now some thoughts:

So I've read 16 of the top 20, and 56 of the top 100. It's nice to know that despite the many gaps and shortcomings in my own lifetime exposure to the well-enshrined canonical classics, I still do pretty well on the populist side of things.

In the same vein, my personal list had four of the top 100 books on it (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, Good Omens and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) which strikes me as about the right percentage of overlap, since I was going for the personal (if not downright idiosyncratic) and not just what I assumed everyone else would think were the right, respectable choices.

I find it interesting that the Stephen King works that got name-checked in the top 100 were The Stand and The Dark Tower. I actually know a fair number of people who cherish The Stand as their favorite book, full stop. And both that novel and the Dark Tower epic are huge sweeping adventures with not inconsiderable philosphical considerations about good and evil and man's place in the universe and whatnot, so I'm certainly not slamming anyone who listed them. If anything, I'm a little surprised that the Dark Tower made the cut, not because I disliked it at all (obviously) but because I have heard so many other folks, even King fans, who gave up on it and thought it was disappointing for one reason or another. Of course I had a Stephen King book on my personal list, too: Pet Sematary. That's not necessarily my favorite King book or the one I consider his best, but I felt it was the foremost example of the book of his that has really stayed with me, in the sense that it has haunted me since I read it over twenty years ago. It's his scariest book, in my subjective opinion, because it gets at some of the things I really and truly fear the most.

Really it just kind of warms my heart to have participated in a for-the-heck-of-it mass expression of pure bibliophilia. And it also, I gotta be honest, restores my faith in humanity a little bit that Twilight didn't make the top 100 list. There may be hope for western civilization yet.

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