Unexpectedly Intriguing!
22 April 2022

A good book can be a very good thing. Turning the pages of an engaging story filled with entertaining characters is always time well spent.

That's why we were pleasantly surprised to find the following chart out on the Datawrapper River, which visually ranks the character density of fifteen books known for having lots of characters. Most are considered literary classics, some are not. More on that in a bit, here's the chart:

Perhaps the least surprising book in the list is War and Peace. Tolstoy's work is notorious not just for being really long, but also for having a ton of characters. We would have predicted it would rank at or near the top, and at second, it does.

The most surprising title, but perhaps less so when we think more about it, is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, sold in the U.S. with the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The first book of the Harry Potter series introduces a lot of characters in establishing its world in a comparatively short 352 pages, but not quite as many per 100 pages as Tolstoy did in War and Peace.

And then there's Antigua: The Land of Fairies, Wizards and Heroes, which is only available in an electronic Kindle version and blows Tolstoy's War and Peace out of the water, nearly doubling its character density.

It also seems as far from a classic work of literature as you can get. The titles we didn't recognize were contributed by the 372 Pages We'll Never Get Back podcast, whose hosts are reading books they're pretty sure they're going to hate. Which sounds like the book club we badly needed back in school just to make it through some of the 'masterpieces' being pushed by overly enthusiastic literature teachers. Going by the titles they've covered, they're having a lot of fun.

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