The 20 Most Important Books Of All Time, According To Your Facebook Friends

Earlier this year, we started seeing a fun meme crossing our Facebook timelines: “List 10 books that have stayed with you.”

It was a fun meme, but it went to a whole new level when a couple of researchers analyzed the data. From Lada Adamic and Pinkesh Patel:

The following analysis was conducted on anonymized, aggregate data.

To answer this question we gathered a de-identified sample of over 130,000 status updates matching “10 books or ten books appearing in the last two weeks of August 2014 (although the meme has been active over at least a year). The demographics of those posting were as follows: 63.7% were in the US, followed by 9.3%in India, and 6.3% in the UK. Women outnumbered men 3.1:1. The average age was 37. We therefore expect the books chosen to be reflective of this subset of the population.

We programmatically segmented the posts into lists, and found the most frequently occurring substrings, which corresponded to different books, e.g. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. However, the same book could appear as different substrings: e.g. just Anna Karenina or Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy. We clustered similar variants programmatically, hand tuning where the algorithm had failed to merge two popular variants. We then used the clusters to automatically match the book lists against the common variants of the top 500 most popular books.

The 20 best books of all time, according to Facebook, are below. You can see the rest of them here. I’m going to put most of these (if I’ve not read them) on my Amazon wish list. That will help me as I’m out and about running errands and near a used book store.


20. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

HarperOne / Via

HarperOne / Image via AllTheCovers


19. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

HarperCollins / Via

HarperCollins / Image via MSMela


18. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Anchor Books / Via

Anchor Books / Image via One Eleven Books


17. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

Square Fish / Via

Square Fish / Image via Wikipedia


16. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Scribner Book Company / Via

Scribner Book Company / Image via Hexotica


15. The Stand – Stephen King


14. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Signet Classic / Via

Signet Classic /Red With Style


13. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott


12. 1984 – George Orwell

Debolsillo / Via

Debolsillo / Book Cover Archive


11. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Charles Scribner?s Sons / Via

Charles Scribner’s Sons /Wikipedia


10. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis



9. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

Little, Brown and Company / Via

Little, Brown and Company /Wikipedia


8. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press / Via

Scholastic Press /AMS Journal


7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Random House / Via

Random House /The Almighty Guru


6. The Holy Bible

American Bible Society / Via

American Bible Society /TBC Austin


5. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Penguin Books / Via

Penguin Books


4. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Via

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt /Cutler Library

3. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien


2. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Grand Central Publishing / Via

Grand Central Publishing /210 Teen Library

1. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

Scholastic Books / Via

Scholastic Books /Wikipedia

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