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Nerdy Infographic of the Day: Which Cities Are Most Popular With the Literati?

See how world cities stack up to each other -- in terms of the amount of books written about them.


As Oscar Wilde puts it -- There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Does the same apply to cities?

Edgard Barbosa, a graphic design student from Florida, set out to visualize the amount of English-language books written about 10 world cities between 1800 and 2000. The cities chosen for comparison were: London, New York City, Rome, Paris, Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid, Beijing, Mumbai, and Cairo.

Barbosa used data from Google NGram Viewer, which tracks how often keywords appear in over five million books written since 1800. Barbosa illustrates his approach in the graphs below, in which the segment length of each bar corresponds to the volume of books written about each city throughout time. This strategy produces an overview of general trends rather than a flood of detailed quantities.

"I think the next step would be to compare this data with major historical and cultural events and find connections between events and the amount of literature written. I'm pretty sure there is a clear connection," Barbosa writes in an email.

We can already tell that London and New York are consistently appealing and that Rome and Madrid are waning in popularity. Unsurprisingly, Beijing and Mumbai, emerging global cities, are suddenly attracting more attention.

(h/t Ebook Friendly)

Top image: Falconia/

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