The BBC compiled a list of the 100 most loved books, as voted by Brits. There is a definite slant to modern books; more precisely, books that have been turned into movies. I also found it interested that England’s richest female, JK Rowling, is disproportionately listed (four of the seven Harry Potter series in the top 25). Notably absent from the list is iconic libertarian author Ayn Rand whose book, Atlas Shrugged, is seeing increased sales recently. Rand fled communist Russia and developed a philosophy that almost perfectly counters the opinions on those she feared; Karl Marx wrote plenty that opposes Rand. Marx and Rand are arguably two of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century (not that the 20th century will be known for philosophy), yet neither is represented.
The Time list (compiled by critics) also ignores Rand. The Modern Library has two lists, one from critics and one from users. Their critic list does not have Rand, yet their user list contains four Rand books in the top 10! Continuing to look I found that (perhaps) objectivism is more popular amongst men as Rand appears on the 100 Must-Read Books in the Essential Man’s Library.
I’m really shocked because the dreaded classics appear all over the lists! In several discussions of literature I’ve only met one person who enjoyed the classics; my peers all hated the books we slogged through in high school. That’s not to say the classics are not important, but I do not relate with the baroque period like I do modern times. My favorite writer, Neal Stephenson, does not appear on these lists, although Snow Crash has topped lists of readers’ choice. What’s wrong with these lists? Put on your tin foil hats because I think there’s a conspiracy!
Each list highlights the problems of sampling human subjects, for example: selection bias, poor controls, and privacy concerns among others. In the end, books are entertainment and entertainment is completely subjective. Do what you like and let me do the same.
What do you think of the lists? Is there one that aligns with your tastes? Do you like the classics? What authors or books are missing?