Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years. At first, they told these stories out loud, then they started to write.
There are more than a hundred million published books on our planet now and to find out which one is best, I visited my friend Matthew Jockers. He’s a professor at Washington State University who combines his love of stories with computer science to research what makes some books bestsellers.
He uses a computer algorithm which can read a book super-fast—way faster than even the fastest reader in our world (who can read 25,000 words a minute). The algorithm is called the “bestseller-ometer,” and it pays attention to both the words and big patterns of a book.
A good read
Jockers told me that bestsellers tend to be page-turners. These books have rhythm and patterns, especially when it comes to how the writer creates and resolves conflict. These stories often have characters that get into trouble and then get out of trouble again.
We might see this kind of pattern in books like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games.” These books also have a lot of cliffhangers.
Still, the answer to your question goes beyond just looking at the bestseller list. We might also think about the best book in another way. Jockers said some of the best books are those that cross cultural boundaries.