When it comes to reading, we know what genre Americans are reading (see Harris Poll #37, April 7, 2008), but what is Americans' favorite book? Across all demographic groups the number one book is The Bible. Behind The Bible, the Civil War is still being fought as Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind comes in second. Fantasy and a bit of fear round out the top five favorite books of all time: in at number 3 is J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and number 4 is that other fantasy series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. In fifth is one of the masters of scary books - Stephen King and The Stand.
These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,513 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive between March 11 and 18, 2008.
The next five start off with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, followed by To Kill a Mockingbird. Number 7 is another Dan Brown novel, the Robert Langdon prequel Angels and Demons, followed by Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at number nine. Finishing off the top ten favorite books is J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.
The Second Favorite Book among Different Groups
While The Bible is number one among each of the different demographic groups, there is a large difference in the number two favorite book. For men, that belongs to Lord of the Rings while women cite Gone with the Wind as their number two. There is also a generational divide. For Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) their second favorite is the Harry Potter series while Generation X (those aged 32-43) is split between The Stand and Angels and Demons. Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62) and Matures (those aged 63 and older) think alike and both cite Gone with the Wind.
While it's not surprising that Gone with the Wind is the second favorite book in the South, it's also number two in the Midwest. Easterners are more partial to the Lord of the Rings series and Westerners cite The Stand as their second favorite book. Whites and Hispanics also say Gone with the Wind is their second favorite while African Americans say it is Angels and Demons. Educational levels have the largest differences. Those with high school or less education cite Gone with the Wind as their second favorite book of all time while Americans with some college education say it is The Stand. College graduates go to Lord of the Rings and those with a post graduate education are tied as both Lord of the Rings and To Kill a Mockingbird come in number two for them.
Finally, they may not agree on candidates, but one thing that brings together partisans is their favorite book. For Republicans, Democrats and Independents, the top two books are the same – The Bible followed by Gone with the Wind.