The Bible was the overwhelming choice of American readers as the book that has made the biggest difference in their lives, according to a nationwide survey published last week.
Ranked a distant second was the Ayn Rand novel, "Atlas Shrugged," followed by M. Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled," Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Bible received 166 votes in the survey conducted earlier this year for the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The Rand novel won 17 votes and the others received fewer votes.
They were followed by a three-way tie, with eight votes each for Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and the Book of Mormon.
Next was a five-way tie for Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique;" "A Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning;" Gail Sheehy's "Passages" and "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. Each won seven votes.
Copies of the survey were mailed during the first three months of 1991 to a random sample of 5,000 Book-of-the-Month Club subscribers. Of those, 2,032 completed the questionnaire and 778 cited one or more books that had influenced their lives.
Altogether, 935 book titles were mentioned. Survey respondents said their book choices had enhanced their intellectual or spiritual understanding of life, led to new interests or resulted in major career decisions.