I came across this interesting list yesterday, via a tweet by Anne R. Allen. Web developer Christopher Pound generated a list of the 100 most popular public-domain fiction books available from Project Gutenberg—with a twist: removing duplicate authors. So only each author's most popular work appears here. The result is pretty fascinating! Read the full list here.
Are we surprised at the most popular book on the list? We are not.
I counted up the books I've read myself on that list, incidentally, and found I'd read 45 out of the 100. Several more of them are on my to-read list, so I may have read a couple more by the end of the year.
Now, here's the original list the Top 100 one was spun off from, a literal overall list of most popular fiction books from Project Gutenberg (with some Goodreads ratings playing into the ranking)—1000 of them this time. I did a rough count (it's hard to keep from losing count when you're reading through such a long list) and I seem to have read around 160 of them. That number may be a little skewed, though, since the catalogue lists some individual short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and O. Henry as books. And as a companion to this list, Pound also calculated the most popular authors who have multiple books in the top 1000.
Pretty interesting stuff! It's amazing, isn't it, to see how many classic works of fiction are available to read absolutely free if you've got a computer or an e-reader. It's like holding a whole library in your hand.