Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Judging a book by its fans

Books That Make You Dumb: A catchy title for a study someone did to correlate the favorite books of American college students (as listed on students' Facebook profiles) with their school's average SAT score. The top 100 favorite books are listed on the chart.

I am now somewhat embarrassed that I have the two so-called "smartest" books, 100 Years of Solitude and Lolita, both listed on my Facebook profile. What a cliché I am! Though I also have listed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is the 15th "dumbest" book, only barely above "I Dont Read." It surprises me that that book is so low on the list--even though usually classed as children's literature, it's well-written, detailed, a thick and leisurely read--not a dumbed-down "kiddie book." And it's so nostalgic for 1910s-era Brooklyn that I didn't know it would appeal to so many modern college students.

Because these are the 100 favorite books of American students, the list also serves as a way of seeing how mainstream you are, since so many of the books listed (the classics, etc.) are the ones most frequently taught in high schools and colleges. But I discovered I'm not as culturally literate as I like to think, since I didn't even recognize some of the titles on this list...

I have read about 1/3 of the books listed. Of the rest, there are maybe 15 other books that I actively want to read (I need to brush up on my dystopian fiction like Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, as well as those classics-everyone-but-me-read-in-high-school like To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men); the other 50 or so books, I'm not interested.

Honestly, I could spend too much time pondering the mysteries of this book list. Why is Wuthering Heights (#31) so much "dumber" than Jane Eyre (#88)? What does it mean that The Holy Bible is at #9, The Bible is at #48, and The Book of Mormon is all the way up at #71?

Now I want someone to do the same analysis with Favorite Movies and Favorite Music as listed on Facebook, so I can distract myself with even more trivia.

Link found at bookslut.

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