The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"


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The Top 10 “Top 10” books: The editor asked 125 authors to list their Top 10 books of all time.

Some people might think that the lists will be mostly the same, containing among them (say) thirty or forty books, but experience (see The Long Tail) tells us that the lists will be different — a lot.

Indeed, the 125 lists contain 544 books among them. So each book appears in an average of 4.352 lists out of 125. (Of course not.) (Exercise: What is the expected number of books that two random lists (out of these 125) have in common?)
There are 23 that appear as the greatest work of all time on one author’s list, but are not even present in any of the other 124 lists.

The sad fact is that I have read too few of them.

A sadder fact is most Americans don’t read. At all.

[Answer to exercise: I’m an idiot, can prove that neither question can be answered without further data.]

Written by S

Fri, 2007-08-24 at 10:55:07

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  1. [Answer to exercise: Insufficient data. Prove it.]

    More like question too vague, rather than insufficient data. Assuming uniform distributions wherever appropriate, :P one could perhaps say something about that.


    Fri, 2007-08-24 at 16:02:31

  2. Fixed, somewhat :-)

    This is for the fixed distribution, defined by the 125 lists. (I was about to say “given distribution”, but the problem is that it’s not :-()


    Fri, 2007-08-24 at 18:04:15

  3. CMI hostel library about 4-5 of the final 10 (,8599,1578073,00.html) and I haven’t read any of them fully :(


    Sat, 2007-11-10 at 13:48:30

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