Just updated the Book List for the first time since September 2008, including a raft of new submitters and their submissions. The total stats are up to 1,159 books by 795 authors as submitted by 89 individuals with their 25 favorite books each.
For the unfamiliar, this is an aggregate effort to rank the best books of all-time as viewed by my friends and other visitors to the Blue Pyramid. This remains one of the most popular elements of the BP and generating this much interest about books surely is unlikely to hurt an aspiring author.
This update, I decided to tack on a little extra, so I ran some numbers about the Top Authors on the Book List as well, done up with some snazzy but small pics. No matter how you slice and dice the stats, it’s hard to underestimate the overwhelming impact Harper Lee had with one 300-page volume. With 494 total points, not only is she the sole and dominant place-holder of the top book of all-time, but her single tome puts her 5th in aggregate points for all authors. Only Tolkien, Shakespeare, Orwell, and Garcia Marquez could beat her, needing an average of 6.25 books each to do so.
The late great J.D. Salinger is well represented as well, checking in as 10th author of all-time on the whole and 4th in quality-per-book for those with more than one volume on the List. Surely this is helped by the fact that not one of the 89 submitters includes Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour, an Introduction among their 25 best.
A late list I considered adding but didn’t, mostly for fear of making this project too onerous to update (I do it less than once a year as-is), is a list of top books that none of the 89 submitters consider their all-time favorite. What’s remarkable is how many of the very highest regarded books still escape the #1 slot for anyone. Most impressive among these is 1984, which is 2nd place all-time despite receiving zero first place votes. I wonder what it says that these books are so widely regarded, but no one would take them as their only choice to a desert island…
1. 1984, George Orwell, 2nd overall
2. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 9th overall
3. The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien, 10th overall
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 14th overall
5. Night, Elie Wiesel, 17th overall
6. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, 20th overall
7. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, 21st overall
8. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 22nd overall
9. The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien, 23rd (tied) overall
10. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 25th (tied) overall
Of course, on the flip side, no fewer than 21 of the 89 first-place-vote-getters (a full 24%) are unique books, appearing on none of the other 88 lists. So there’s probably something about the process of picking a favorite that’s more likely to make it unique than the average book.