America's favorite books? The Bible, 'Gone With the Wind,' 'Harry Potter'

In a new Harris poll, Americans voted the Bible as their favorite book in a landslide.

In a new Harris poll, Americans chose the Bible as their favorite book.

What is America’s favorite book of all time?

The Bible, by a landslide.

That’s according to a new poll by Harris, which found the Bible was the number one choice across all ages, regions, political affiliations, and levels of education.

A handful of classics, new and old, rounded out the rest of the list, with “Gone with the Wind,” “Harry Potter,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” rounding out the top five.

For the report, Harris asked 2,300 Americans, "What’s your favorite book of all time?"

Here’s the 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

Notably, the list includes works of fiction and established classics almost exclusively (except the Bible and newer release “Harry Potter,” respectively).

According to Parade Magazine, Harris conducted the same poll in 2008 and four books are new to the list this year: “Moby Dick,” “Little Women,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” and “The Great Gatsby.”

They replaced Stephen King’s “The Stand,” Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and Dan Brown’s books “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.”

And while nearly all respondents chose the Bible as their favorite book, second choices varied by sex, age cohort, race, and region, according to Harris. 

Men often chose “The Lord of the Rings” as second favorite, while women tended to choose “Gone with the Wind.” 

Perhaps it's of little surprise that Millennials (aged 18-36) chose the “Harry Potter” series as second favorite, while Gen X'ers (37-48) chose “The Lord of the Rings.” Baby Boomers and older (49+) chose “Gone with the Wind.” 

Favorites also varied by race, with whites often choosing “Gone with the Wind,” blacks choosing “Moby Dick,” and Hispanics choosing “The Great Gatsby.”

Even region played a part in determining favorites: In the East, “The Lord of the Rings” came in second; in the Midwest and South, “Gone with the Wind”; and in the West, “Harry Potter.”

Reading lists provide insight into a reader’s personality and tastes, and this one is no exception. America’s favorite books reveal a nation of lovers of timeless, largely traditional, classics.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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