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Facebook Finds Bible, C. S. Lewis Have Affected Many Users

Social network studied 130,000 status updates to find most-influential books.
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Facebook Finds Bible, C. S. Lewis Have Affected Many Users
Image: Facebook screenshot - UBS Digital Bible

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way,” a recent Facebook meme directed. “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."

The social network's data science team then gathered more than 130,000 status updates from its users (mostly American women in their late 30s) to sort out the books mentioned most.

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series topped the list of influential books, with more than 20 percent of examined users naming the series. But the Bible placed No. 6, listed by more than 7 percent of those answering the meme. And C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia placed No. 10, with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe itself placing No. 19.

The Facebook top 20:

  1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. The Holy Bible
  7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6. The Stand by Stephen King
  7. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  9. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  11. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible were cited as influential by slightly more women than men, according to a Facebook graphic. Those who listed the Narnia tales tended to also list TheHobbit (No. 4) and TheLord of the Rings (No. 3) by J. R. R. Tolkien. Those who listed the Bible as an influence were more likely to also name The Help by Kathryn Stockett (No. 48), TheSecret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Shack by William P. Young (No. 58).

Eight of the top 20 books match up to a poll released in April by Harris Interactive, asking respondents to name their favorite book of all time.

Across all demographics, the Bible was consistently named the No. 1 book. The Harry Potter series, To Kill a Mockingbird, TheLord of the Rings, and TheCatcher in the Rye also appear on both top 10 lists. The Great Gatsby, Little Women, and Gone with the Wind also appear on Facebook’s top 20.

The Harris top 10:

  1. The Bible
  2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  4. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  7. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Harris also tracked demographic differences. After the Bible, women preferred Gone with the Wind and men liked The Lord of the Rings. Millennials liked Harry Potter second-best, while 37- to 48-year-olds chose Lord of the Rings, and those over 48 picked Gone with the Wind.

America’s second-favorite books were also divided along racial lines: blacks chose Moby Dick, Hispanics picked The Great Gatsby and whites favored Gone with the Wind. Politically, Republicans, Democrats and Independents all chose Gone with the Wind as their second-favorite book.

One in five American adults have read the Bible start to finish, according to a 2013 Barna study. Even more surprising, 18 percent of people with a faith other than Christianity, and about 9 percent of people with no faith, report reading the Bible start to finish, the study said. Among evangelical Christians, more than 60 percent have read the entire Bible.

CT offers many stories on Bible reading as well as numerous book reviews.

January/February
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