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ande
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#17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

[ Edited ]
Greetings, Book Explorers:
 
As you know I have a love-hate relationship with lists. And I might as well add that I'm not so crazy about polls -- particularly political ones since people lie all the time. And now that I've gotten started -- I don't put much stock in polls that tempt people to show off about how smart they are, how healthily they eat, how small their carbon footpprint, etc.
 
I'm not exactly sure if I trust a poll about what Americans like to read, but far be from me to deprive you of this recent one from the Harris Poll. The question "What is your favorite book of all time" was posed to 2500+ adults nationwide. I've posted Harris' announcement below.
 
Have a look and tell me if you agree, disagree, are shocked, surprised or if you think it's strictly the hooey. Bonus question: is it cause for celebration or should it be against the law for a Dan Brown book to be on the same list as one by Harper Lee.
 
Ande
 
 

The Bible is America’s Favorite Book Followed by Gone with the Wind

Fantasy Plays Strong as Both the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter Series are on the List as Well

When it comes to reading, we know what genre Americans are reading but what is Americans’ favorite book? Across all demographic groups the number one book is The Bible. Behind The Bible, the Civil War is still being fought as Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind comes in second. Fantasy and a bit of fear round out the top five favorite books of all time: in at number 3 is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and number 4 is that other fantasy series, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books. In fifth is one of the masters of scary books – Stephen King’ and The Stand.

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,513 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive between March 11 and 18, 2008.

The next five start off with Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, followed by To Kill a Mockingbird. Number 7 is another Dan Brown novel, the Robert Langdon prequel Angels and Demons, followed by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at number nine. Finishing off the top ten favorite books is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

The Second Favorite Book among Different Groups

While The Bible is number one among each of the different demographic groups, there is a large difference in the number two favorite book. For men, that belongs to Lord of the Rings while women cite Gone with the Wind as their number two. There is also a generational divide. For Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) their second favorite is the Harry Potter series while Generation X (those aged 32-43) is split between The Stand and Angels and Demons. Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62) and Matures (those aged 63 and older) think alike and both cite Gone with the Wind.

While it’s not surprising that Gone with the Wind is the second favorite book in the South, it’s also number two in the Midwest. Easterners are more partial to the Lord of the Rings series and Westerners cite The Stand as their second favorite book. Whites and Hispanics also say Gone with the Wind is their second favorite while African Americans say it is Angels and Demons. Educational levels have the largest differences. Those with high school or less education cite Gone with the Wind as their second favorite book of all time while Americans with some college education say it is The Stand. College graduates go to Lord of the Rings and those with a post graduate education are tied as both Lord of the Rings and To Kill a Mockingbird come in number two for them.

Finally, they may not agree on candidates, but one thing that brings together partisans is their favorite book. For Republicans, Democrats and Independents, the top two books are the same – The Bible followed by Gone with the Wind.

TABLE 1

FAVORITE BOOK

"What is your favorite book of all time?"

Unprompted responses

Base: All adults

 

2008

The Bible

1

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

2

Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien

3

Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

4

The Stand, by Stephen King

5

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

6

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

7

Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown

8

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

9

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

10

TABLE 2

TOP BOOK AMONG DIFFERENT GROUPS BEHIND THE BIBLE

Group

Book

Gender

Men

The Lord of the Rings (series)

Women

Gone with the Wind

Race/Ethnicity

 

White

Gone with the Wind

African American

Angels and Demons

Hispanic

Gone with the Wind

Generation

 

Echo Boomers (18-31)

Harry Potter (series)

Gen X (32-43)

The Stand; Angels and Demons

Baby Boomers (44-62)

Gone with the Wind

Matures (63+)

Gone with the Wind

Political Party

 

Republicans

Gone with the Wind

Democrats

Gone with the Wind

Independents

Gone with the Wind

Region

 

East

The Lord of the Rings (series)

Midwest

Gone with the Wind

South

Gone with the Wind

West

The Stand

Education

 

H.S. or less

Gone with the Wind

Some college

The Stand

College Grad

The Lord of the Rings (series)

Post Grad

The Lord of the Rings (series); To Kill a Mockingbird

 



Message Edited by ande on 04-21-2008 06:04 PM
Melissa_W
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

IMO - this is probably not representative.  I take polls for Harris and I wasn't given this one (they ask what industries you work for).
 
I don't fit in with any of those categories - nary a Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte in sight; or Jasper Fforde for that matter.  I think Gone With the Wind is overblown and dated; I also think that Dan Brown's books have only been read because they allude to larger conspiracies within the church (people love conspiracy theories).  I own a Bible but I only read it when I'm looking up a reference (I haven't actually "read" the Bible since confirmation, so it's probably not a favorite).  I'm more apt to believe that Tolkein, Rowling, and King are at the top of readers' lists because that's what I sell when I'm working.
 
A good book about this subject is Why We Read What We Read  - the authors trolled through years of besteller lists to see what people were buying.
 
I'll be the snob - I read Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code and nothing in them will convince me to read them over again.  I've given away my copies.  To Kill a Mockingbird isn't a favorite of mine but it is worth reading again and again.  So yeah, it's criminal.
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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ande
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

I read the Da Vinci Code and it served its purpose -- I was stuck in an airport and had a few hours to kill. I was entertained but when I was done I left it on a seat on the terminal for another stranded passenger. It would never occur to me to give it an honored place on my shelf and read it again, which is something I do with MY favorite books.
 
Ande
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

While I do find this poll thought provoking, I do tend to agree that they didn't get the true gist of what most Americans read...
 
I myself have read 5 out of the 10 (The Stand, The DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons, To Kill a Mockingbird & The Catcher in the Rye.)  2 were read in school, the rest at my leisure and I do own all of the ones I've read.  I do own a Bible but cannot say that I have ever read it through, never mind my beliefs...  The only person in my household (there are three of us) who reads it is my mom and she reads it on a weekly schedule so it takes her a whole year to get through it.
 
I once tried to read the Lord of the Rings Series but it seems like my mind can't keep up with all the various characters, although there will be another try in it for me at some point.  The Potter series, not really interested in it but will probably read it in order to understand it better when my godchildren do.  Gone With the Wind I haven't even thought about, even though the DVD sits on a shelf unopened downstairs.  Never was much of a romance person...   Atlas Shrugged has slipped my mind time and again and will be on my reading list, now that I remember it again... 
 
Needless to say the only books on the list I REALLY agree with having their place there are The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Stand (of what I've read.)  Dan Brown likes to recycle his plot lines and I can't stand that!
 
So maybe this poll reflects only certain peoples tastes, but it certainly only reflects part of mine and most of the people I know.
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"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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Maria_H
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

But that's kind of the point of books, isn't it? That there is something for everyone and for every purpose. You gave it a place of honor by offering it to the next passenger.

I have not read any of Mr. Brown's books, but good for him for keeping at it and finally writing a bestseller that is enjoyed by many!


ande wrote:
I read the Da Vinci Code and it served its purpose -- I was stuck in an airport and had a few hours to kill. I was entertained but when I was done I left it on a seat on the terminal for another stranded passenger. It would never occur to me to give it an honored place on my shelf and read it again, which is something I do with MY favorite books.

Ande



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ande
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

All true, Maria! Hope i didn't sound like a snob. There are books for when you're on the go and books for the beach and books for long lazy afternoons on a snowy day. For me, The Da Vinci code was like a snack for the mind (at least mine).
     
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Maria_H
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Re: #17 Poll dancing: America's favorite books

Heck, not one bit!

Far from it. I think you are one of the most open minded readers I know!

ande wrote:
Hope i didn't sound like a snob.


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