If you’re a Facebook user, you’ve either already written your list of “10 books that have stayed with me/inspired me/changed my life” or you’ve seen many of your friends post their own lists. This Facebook meme is popular right now, and I’ve read every single one of my friends’ lists as I’ve seen them posted. That’s no surprise. I also have a habit of going straight to the bookshelf in someone’s house to see what what’s on it. It’s a way I get to know someone.
Facebook analyzed the top 10 books meme to come up with the top 100 books that have shown up on everyone’s lists. A random de-identified sample of over 130,000 was mined to determine which books were most commonly on people’s lists. The No. 1 book wasn’t a single book; it was a series — the Harry Potter books.
Facebook also posted some interesting visuals based on the analysis, including one that shows which books were frequently listed together in lists. People who listed my all-time favorite book, “A Wrinkle In Time,” often also listed “Little Women,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The first two of those books are in my top ten (listed at the bottom of this post) and the second two are books I love. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” may seem out of place among the other three adolescent books, but it makes perfect sense to me. They are all books with strong females.
Along with the Facebook analysis of the top 10 books posts, I read something else about books this morning, and it made me happy. Slate reports that Manhattan’s Upper West Side is getting a new indie bookstore and there is evidence that independent bookstores may be on the rise. Actual small, brick and mortar stores with books that were pushed out by mega bookstores may be due for a revival now that Amazon has crushed the mega bookstores.
Since 2009, the number of independent bookstores in the United States has risen from 1,651 to 2,094, a 20 percent increase. Sales are increasing, also. In the past three years, sales at independent bookstores have increased by 8 percent, a higher increase than the sales of books in general.
(Is anyone else right now thinking back to the movie “You’ve Got Mail” and imagining a sequel where Meg Ryan’s character re-opens her Upper West Side independent children’s bookstore?)
Why am I writing about a Facebook trending meme and the resurgence of bookstores together? Both give me hope that people still read whole books. I frequently hear that reading bits of information from computers and smartphones has made our culture as a whole less able to sit down and read a book from beginning to end. I sometimes fear that my sons, who resist reading books, may not ever know the enjoyment of getting lost in a book for hours on end.
I’m encouraged by lists making Facebook rounds and stores opening up that sell books. Are you?
As promised, here’s my own 10-books-that-stuck-with-me list
- “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L'engle
- “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle
- “Are Women Human?” by Dorothy Sayers
- “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott
- “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran
- “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver
- “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L'engle
- “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
- “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis
- “Scribbling in the Sand” by Michael Card
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