April 9, 2008

Top Ten Books

From my copy of Publishers Lunch today:

Harris Interactive surveyed American adults to find out "What is your favorite book of all time?" The answers:

1. The Bible
2. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
3. Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
5. The Stand, by Stephen King
6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
8. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
10. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

That number one book is still wielding far too much influence for my taste. Do you think a majority would still claim it as their favorite, if they concluded that it was a complete fiction? Or almost completely fiction with a tiny bit of nonfiction now and then in reference to people's names or the occasional true event?

I don't see The God Delusion on the list. Or, The Pale Blue Eye, a stunning crime novel that came out in the last 2 years. Or Toni Morrison's masterpiece, Beloved. Or Richard Wright's Native Son. Or Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I love them all, and more, and cannot choose between them.

If anyone had asked me, my favorite book is the dictionary. After that there are too many to narrow it down, but none are on the above list. I choose the dictionary because all the other books are inside it, they're just jumbled up.
(When I say dictionary I mean to include all dictionaries, accounting for different versions and different languages.)

What's your favorite book? Is it on the above list? Are you surprised by the titles on the list? Pleased by them? Disappointed?


Michael said...

I'm happy to see The Stand on there- that book is easily the best work of fiction to be written in the 20th century.

I must admit to being perplexed that the bible would be cited on a list like this- not merely just from my own doubt that most people who cited it as their favorite have actually read it.

My favorite? Michael Chriton's Jurassic Park- I've read that book more times than I can count since I first discovered it when I was seven.


MarkT said...

I have a feeling that many people say that their favorite book is the Bible ONLY because they fear that, well, maybe god does exist... and he's WATCHING!!!

Either that, or they want to give the appearance of being all holy & stuff.

Seriously, who did they survey, mostly fundementalists? I know a lot of supposedly religious people- I can pick out one or two whose favorite book would be that ever-present work of fiction, da Bible.

Cloudberry said...

It's from a Harris Poll. The company website says they have been in business since the early 1960s.

To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in future online surveys, visit:


Josh said...

My favorite book changes... right now I'd say it's The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. A must read for free thinkers, he was one of the first fiction writers to really tackle the idea and effects of atheism. It's a very long but engaging story with deep philosophical and moral undertones.

I'm also surprised to see Ayn Rand so high on the list. I'm not a fan of objectivism at all, and in fact I think it's no different from any religion. It may not have god, but it just substitutes Rand's blind dogma for religion's. Maybe we can talk more about that later if anyone is interested ;)

Manya said...

I agree with what's been said. If there were some *magical* way to prevent people from naming books they didn't read in their entirety, The Bible would not be on there. And in parentheses, it should say, "any of the millions of versions."

My favorite fiction books include, Huckleberry Finn, Native Son (as mentioned!), and The Stranger.

But I'm more of a non-fiction type.

Yeah, I feel like people in that poll aren't being honest with themselves that that trashy romance novel or Hulk Hogan autobiography is really their favorite.

To be honest, my most well-worn book contains short stories (of sorts) by Anaïs Nin. And don't forget the Life in Hell series. I love anything dark and cynical.

I'd love to discuss Ayn Rand! Has anyone seen Passion of Ayn Rand?

Hey, let's be thankful they didn't list Dianetics!