The Books that Affect Us the Most, According to Facebook


If you've been on Facebook in the past two weeks, chances are you've seen this status floating around:

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.

Call it an updated version of the classic chain letter. It's led to thousands of Facebook users sharing with their friends the books that have had a profound impact on their lives.

So which books have affected us the most? Lada Adamic and Pinkesh Patel of Facebook's Data Science team examined the data in an attempt to distill the real "great works" of our generation.

"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)," Adamic and Patel write. "The demographics of those posting were as follows: 63.7% were in the US, followed by 9.3%in India, and 6.3% in the UK. 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."

The results were rather fascinating: 21% of statuses included the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, closely followed by Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Here's the full list along with the corresponding percentages:

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - 21.08% 

Adamic and Patel also provided a data visualization mapping the connections between the 20 most popular books, where each node represents a book, sized by the frequency with which it was mentioned, and clustered based on the frequency with which each book is mentioned along with other. The colors represent whether the book was more often mentioned by women (red) or men (blue). "One can also look at connections between the books, e.g. 'people who listed X also listed Y'," they write.

You can see the top 100 books at the Facebook Data science page here.