This is really more of a “see which ones you’ve read so you can feel superior” infographic. No indication of genre, historical period, etc., or any of the things actually relevant to a book’s selection appear here.
Everyone should certainly not read these books. Everyone will hate on average at least half of them. And by hate, I don’t mean just that they will read them and disagree with them. I mean it would actively be a waste of time to read them because the person will not enjoy them or get anything out of them at all. And if you’re willing to include books that one person could not possibly like at the same time, why isn’t the Bible on there and the Origin of Species or Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery? Why are these books only fiction, only popular among English-language critics, and why is Shakespeare not on here, despite being in both categories?
Why am I so upset? It’s not the list itself, but the presentation that riles me. If you profess to spread information, at least make sure it’s accurate. This can only be presented as “here’s some books, you might like them.” Or at the very least, “some books that most people who read English should at least read the book jacket for.” The selection for this list is entirely arbitrary, because while you might claim that the criterion is popularity, it’s popularity among a very arbitrarily chosen group of people. You know, the people who are smarter than you. “Books everyone should read” implies that if you haven’t, you are stupid, and if you don’t like anything on this list, you probably have bad taste, too. And the implication that you are intelligent only if you have read fiction written mostly by affluent, white, European or American males is one of the most insidious and pervasive sources of elitism and bigotry in Western society because even when racism or sexism is socially inappropriate, if you can prove a given group or person is stupid, then discrimination is okay.
Books Everyone Should Read — an infographic.
RESEARCH & DESIGN: DAVID MCCANDLESS, MIRIAM QUICK, MATT HANCOCK
SOURCES: UK’S MOST BORROWED LIBRARY BOOKS, DESERT ISLAND DISCS BOOK CHOICES, PULITZER PRIZE WINNERS (1948-2010) ASKMETAFILTER.COM’S BOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD READ, WORLD BOOK DAY POLL, TELEGRAPH 100 NOVELS EVERYONE SHOULD READ, GOODREADS.COM, BSPCN.COM, GUARDIAN 100 NOVELS EVERYONE MUST READ, MAN BOOKER PRIZE WINNERS, OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB LIST.