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Which Are the Most Popular
College Books in the USA?

Reading and college go hand in hand. If you’re at college, the chances are that you’ll need to spend some time in the library hitting the books, but what is being read? The Open Syllabus Project means that it’s possible to see the reading lists of more than 2,500 colleges around the country, so DegreeQuery has analyzed which the most popular books are.

The headline revelation is that the most commonly-assigned book is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, while a look at diversity doesn’t paint a positive picture with only 20 of the top 100 most popular books written by a sole female author while 78 of them were written solely by a man.

When you dig down into which books are most popular by state you can see several patterns. Most of them are academic books, with math and writing both dominating in many states thanks to books like The Elements of Style, A Writer’s Reference, Algebra for College Students and Calculus all appearing numerous times.

The American Promise: A History of the United States is the most popular college book in Texas, appearing in the syllabus of an incredible 3,273 schools there, making it the most times any one book appears in one state. In Oklahoma meanwhile, the most common book is Puntos de Partida: An Invitation to Spanish, showing how popular that language is there.

When you compare the difference between Ivy League schools and public schools there’s a clear distinction between those that come out on top. Just three books appear in both top 10s (The Elements of Style, The Communist Manifesto and The Tragedy of the Commons). Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes is top of the list for the Ivy League schools, but doesn’t make it in for the public schools.

Why not do your own research and dig down into the data to see which of the books you read at college are popular around the country right now?

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