More Than 80 Percent of the Most Popular Novels Are Written by Men
By Emily Petsko
What do The Great Gatsby, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Of Mice and Men, and The Lord of the Rings all have in common? Sure, they’re among America’s most popular fiction books, but they also happen to be written by men. Over 80 percent of the 100 most popular novels were written by male authors, according to an interactive infographic created by Wordery.
Using data from Ranker on the best books (as voted on by users), Wordery broke the picks down by male and female authors, as well as the books preferred by male and female readers. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien was the second most-popular book overall, followed by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, then Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
If there’s any silver lining, it’s the fact that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the most popular book overall. Among women voters, it was the top choice. Among men, it came in second after Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lee’s classic tale was also named America’s Favorite Novel following a nationwide survey last October.
Other female-authored books to make Wordery’s list include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and several of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. However, this contingent is still in the minority. A study from 2018 found that three of the leading literary publications devoted less than 40 percent of their coverage to women authors the previous year. Another analysis from last year found that female authors and female characters in literature both steadily declined from the Victorian era to the mid-20th century.
On the bright side, progress has been made in recent years, and female authors dominated the bestseller lists in 2017—at least in the UK. If you’re looking to make your reading list a little more gender-balanced, check out our list of 25 amazing books by women authors.