Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Books Everyone Should Read?

Click to enlarge.
Lists like 'The Top-100 Books Everyone Should Read' come out every year, and often feature more-or-less the same sets of (mostly) novels. Sometimes they're in a different order, sometimes they spice it up a little (Sense and Sensibility instead of Pride and Prejudice, of 1984 instead of Animal Farm, etc.). I tease mostly because these lists make me feel a little inadequate – and I have an English degree, which feels like it should mean I've read most of these books.

Anyway, The Guardian has put together a word cloud (see above) featuring the titles of the must-read books from "over 15 notable book polls" and arranged them so that the titles that appear most frequently appear largest and boldest (essentially the same idea as my tag cloud, to the right of this post). Seeing the titles arranged like this makes me feel like maybe the lists are a bit less repetitive than I thought, and also that some stories are widely considered necessary reads. To Kill a Mockingbird is the clear winner, which is interesting because, compared to some of the other titles, it is relatively contemporary. I also find it rather amazing that Le Petit Prince (or The Little Prince) has made so few lists, as well as the fact that Twilight shows up at all. It is so interesting to examine what other people/organizations deem to be must-reads.

What makes this data extra-interesting is that The Guardian also provides a spreadsheet with all the lists on it, which means that if you wanted to read your way through one of them, you certainly could.

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