In honor of Book Riot’s release of TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations (it’s like StitchFix, but for book recommendations so instantly 1000% more awesome), I dug into the data behind the most common to-be-read books according to Goodreads users. What’s the classic book that everyone means to get to, but just hasn’t yet? Which YA novel is on the most TBR lists? And which books published in the last two years are the most sought-after?
I’ve got a few, so hold on.
First, these numbers are based on the most commonly-used Goodreads bookshelf about this topic: “to-read” with 1.1 billion shelved books. Of course, this takes into account only a small percentage of readers who actually use this tag to mark their TBR books. (But it’s a billion, so we’re at a good start.) All numbers given are from November 2018 and may not reflect stats you see later.
Next, I organized these into a few separate genres. Likely you’ve heard about the top ten TBR classics because they’re books EVERYONE has heard about and means to read. But, by dividing into classics, YA, nonfiction, and new releases, I think you get a better picture of the types of books that are on reader’s lists.
Finally, this list is a pretty stark example of how white-washed publishing was historically and continues to be. Many of these books were “buzzy” releases that garnered a lot of marketing dollars and attention or, in the case of classics, filled school curriculums. And, unfortunately, the vast majority of that attention went to white authors. It’s only in the TBR books from the last two years—when publishing has begun making efforts towards inclusion—that we begin to see anything even remotely approaching the actual diversity of our population, and even that falls short.
Most Common TBR Books on Goodreads
With that being said, these are the top books Goodreads users absolutely can’t wait to read.
TBR Books: The Classics
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1,057,918 readers keep meaning to read this classic)
- 1984 by George Orwell (917,861 readers)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (846,636)
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (800,767)
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (789,009)
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (696,806)
- Animal Farm by George Orwell (558,632)
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (541,044)
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (531,767)
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (527,952)
TBR Books: Contemporary Novels
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (724,870)
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (724,363)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (706,715)
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (681,862)
- The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (662,521)
- All the Light That We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (638,848)
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (628,130)
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (578,870)
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (492,079)
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel (485,670)
TBR Books: YA and Middle Grade
- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (985,330)
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (947,948)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (827,480)
- Divergent by Veronica Roth (694,826)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (645,977)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (587,816)
- Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (555,918)
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (544,717)
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer (543,320)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (473,751)
TBR Books: Nonfiction
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (707,691)
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (504,548)
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (397,555)
- Bossypants by Tina Fey (394,271)
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (372,018)
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (351,949)
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler (342,250)
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (322,743)
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt (311,038)
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (301,469)
New TBR Books (2016–2018 Releases)
Since these books are bound to have fewer overall labels than older releases, I wanted to focus on the top TBR books released in the last two years.
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (363,752)
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (306,388)
- Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (263,709)
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (243,064)
- Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (228,826)
- Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (222,476)
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (220,542)
- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (181,881)
- All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (177,853)
- Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (174,900)
Which of these books are on your TBR list? Hit the comments to share books you’ve been meaning to read but. just. haven’t.
Finally, if you want to build out your own stack of books, get yourself over to TBR to get custom-made-for-you book recommendations.