Madame Bovary: Most Recommended Book by Famous Authors

30 09 2018

WHICH BOOKS DO FAMOUS AUTHORS READ AND RECOMMEND MOST?

Everyone loves a list—especially a list of books. To that end, people are always asking famous writers to give them lists of books they love, and famous writers are always doing it, because again, who doesn’t like a list of books, and especially when those books are your own favorites, and you get to talk about them again. While considering the proliferation of the high-profile literary listicle, I started wondering which books famous authors most often touted among their favorites. And as often happens, once I started wondering, I soon knew I was in for some math.

I looked at 68 lists made by famous authors, from the classic (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway) to the contemporary (Yaa Gyasi, Mary Gaitskill, Maggie Nelson, George Saunders), and kept track of which books they recommended most often. The results were interesting—not particularly because of the most recommended books (many of them are pretty predictable) but because of the details—the groupings, the exclusions, the agreements between authors you wouldn’t necessarily think had similar taste.

The winner, with 9 mentions:
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
(Recommended by Ernest Hemingway, Sloane Crosley, Bret Easton Ellis, John Irving, Mary Gatiskill, Helen Fielding, Philip Roth, Claire Messud, Lorrie Moore)

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