The Top 100 Books on Facebook

By David Cohen 

Facebook100BooksChart650The Facebook Data Science Team curled up with some good books, analyzing more than 130,000 status updates containing the phrases “10 books” or “ten books,” during the last two weeks of August, playing off a meme that has been active for about one year: “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.” So, which book finished at No. 1? Lada Adamic and Pinkesh Patel explained how they determined the top 100 books on the social network in a note on the Facebook Data Science page:

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 percent were in the U.S., followed by 9.3 percent in India and 6.3 percent in the U.K. 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.

Without further ado, here are Facebook’s top 100 books, including their authors and the percentage of status updates they appeared in:

  1. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, 21.08 percent
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 14.48 percent
  3. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien, 13.86 percent
  4. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien, 7.48 percent
  5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 7.28 percent
  6. The Holy Bible, 7.21 percent
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 5.97 percent
  8. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins, 5.82 percent
  9. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 5.70 percent
  10. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, 5.63 percent
  11. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 5.61 percent
  12. 1984, George Orwell, 5.37 percent
  13. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, 5.26 percent
  14. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, 5.23 percent
  15. The Stand, Stephen King, 5.11 percent
  16. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 4.95 percent
  17. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, 4.38 percent
  18. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 4.27 percent
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis, 4.05 percent
  20. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, 4.01 percent
  21. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery, 3.95 percent
  22. The Giver, Lois Lowry, 3.88 percent
  23. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, 3.67 percent
  24. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, 3.53 percent
  25. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver, 3.39 percent
  26. Lord of the Flies, William Golding, 3.38 percent
  27. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan, 3.38 percent
  28. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, 3.32 percent
  29. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, 3.26 percent
  30. Hamlet, William Shakespeare, 3.22 percent
  31. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 3.21 percent
  32. Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, 3.15 percent
  33. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 3.15 percent
  34. Animal Farm, George Orwell, 3.12 percent
  35. The Book of Mormon, 3.08 percent
  36. The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank, 3.05 percent
  37. Dune, Frank Herbert, 3.02 percent
  38. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 2.98 percent
  39. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2.83 percent
  40. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 2.78 percent
  41. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein, 2.72 percent
  42. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green, 2.68 percent
  43. On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 2.68 percent
  44. Lamb, Christopher Moore, 2.58 percent
  45. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, 2.54 percent
  46. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving, 2.53 percent
  47. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, 2.52 percent
  48. The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 2.45 percent
  49. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton, 2.44 percent
  50. American Gods, Neil Gaiman, 2.42 percent
  51. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls, 2.41 percent
  52. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein, 2.39 percent
  53. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 2.38 percent
  54. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, 2.35 percent
  55. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 2.31 percent
  56. Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett, 2.31 percent
  57. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, 2.29 percent
  58. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 2.24 percent
  59. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 2.21 percent
  60. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, 2.21 percent
  61. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, 2.16 percent
  62. Night, Elie Wiesel, 2.12 percent
  63. The Dark Tower Series, Stephen King, 2.12 percent
  64. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, 2.07 percent
  65. The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1.92 percent
  66. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini, 1.89 percent
  67. The Art of War, Sun Tzu, 1.88 percent
  68. Catch 22, Joseph Heller, 1.85 percent
  69. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath, 1.85 percent
  70. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, 1.83 percent
  71. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 1.78 percent
  72. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden, 1.76 percent
  73. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom, 1.75 percent
  74. The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 1.73 percent
  75. Watership Down, Richard Adams, 1.72 percent
  76. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith, 1.72 percent
  77. Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein, 1.68 percent
  78. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, 1.65 percent
  79. A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin, 1.65 percent
  80. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume, 1.65 percent
  81. Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White, 1.64 percent
  82. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger, 1.63 percent
  83. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, 1.62 percent
  84. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1.62 percent
  85. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1.61 percent
  86. The Shack, William P. Young, 1.58 percent
  87. Watchmen, Alan Moore, 1.56 percent
  88. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice, 1.55 percent
  89. The Odyssey, Homer, 1.54 percent
  90. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende, 1.54 percent
  91. The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1.53 percent
  92. Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1.52 percent
  93. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom, 1.51 percent
  94. Siddhartha, Herman Hesse, 1.51 percent
  95. East of Eden, John Steinbeck, 1.50 percent
  96. Matilda, Roald Dahl, 1.50 percent
  97. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1.49 percent
  98. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig, 1.47 percent
  99. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1.45 percent
  100. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, 1.45 percent

Readers: How many of your favorite books and authors made the list? Image of bookshelf courtesy of Shutterstock.