Are these America’s Favorite Books? Or is it the Folly of Polling?

Harris Polling recently surveyed a cross section of Americans (ouch!) to discover what our favorite book is. Not too surprisingly, the Bible took the number one slot, as it has in every year Harris has made this poll. Also on board with our HogwartsProfessor ‘Shared Text’ expectations, the Hogwarts Saga shows up at number three.

Take a guess before you look, though, at the book that sits between Harry Potter and the Bible in the ladder of America’s favorite reading. Forgive me for thinking that this tells us, as Elizabeth Baird-Hardy shared with me, much more about what the person polled remembers reading in school or having heard is a “classic” movie than what they read or enjoyed.

Or maybe I’m all wet and there is a secret undercurrent of epic romance of which I am blissfully unaware! Please let me know your thoughts. Hat tip to David for this poll find.


  1. This really surprises me, too. I love Gone With the Wind but I don’t hear all that much about it anymore. I would expect this to be true of older people. I wonder how the respondents were chosen. And yes, with so many classics showing up, I wonder if people weren’t saying what they were “supposed to” rather than what they really enjoy. Moby Dick?!

  2. I read Gone with the Wind as a schoolgirl, but since then, I doubt I ever heard anyone even mention the book, let alone discuss its merits. I agree with Robin that it feels like respondents might have grabbed at an answer they felt would make them seem like readers rather than admit to not having read anything since senior English class. But even so, GWTW seems an odd choice to put in that category alongside these other classics. The pollsters show a lot of demographics to compare, but I wonder if they asked those polled how often they read and how many books they read per year, because for GWTW to remain in the number 2 slot makes me think it was the last thing they read and a long time ago. It is super hard for me to imagine an avid and frequent reader to still have GWTW clattering around in their favorites. Have they been giving it out for free somewhere? Is it lying in the other drawer in hotels? Puzzling.

  3. Steve Morrison says

    Aha, I did guess it before clicking through! Your reference to a “classic movie” was a big hint; but I did remember reading, years and years ago, about an American Library Association poll which chose GWtW as “the best book in the library.” (I’d better admit that I’ve never read it, nor seen the movie.)

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