Most highlighted passages on Kindle

The most highlighted passage on Kindle is "because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them," from Susanne Collins' The Hunger Games. Following is Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Then, more from The Hunger Games. A lot more. [Amazon via @laurenleto]



  1. It always amuses me when reading on a Kindle to come across highlighted passages in fiction.  Why spend the time to do this? Particularly since most of them don’t seem to be that special.

    1. I do it cause I often think “Oooh, next time I talk to X he should hear that, he’s appreciate it”. Then I forget all about it.

    1. Of course they “track this much info.”  You are interacting with a cloud-based device.  What do you expect?

      1. Privacy?  Laughable, I know, but for some reason I can’t quite shake this feeling that my stuff is mine, not rented from Amazon.

        Edit: can’t you turn off the visibility of your highlighting to others? If not, why the hell not?

    2. “Highlighting” on a Kindle is specifically for the purposes of sharing the highlighted section. How could they not “track” it?

      1. So then, has “Highlighting” for the cloud officially replaced “Highlighting” for your own personal and private use?

        Was there no memo about the change? How many people have no idea they are “Highlighting” in a public space? Will they find out at their next job interview…?

        1. You can tell your device you don’t want to share your highlights. Anyway, they’re not going to disclose the highlighters – only how many people highlighted something. That is, if you highlight the least popular sentence in the book it isn’t even to show there.

    3. Huh?  It’s a feature people want to use.  How else would they restore your annotations and keep them sync across devices?

      I can fully understand that you do not WANT them to track.

      I believe that’s what the “do not sync”-option is for.

    4.  Yup, I have a Nook and was thinking about getting a Kindle as well, but now, I think not.
      I only ever side-load files into any ebook reader that I own, and I rarely even turn the radio on, so it may not be an issue for me, but I think I’ll just keep my money away from them.  Amazon gets a TON of my money in other ways but I haven’t bought books from them since moving to ebooks.

  2. The most highlighted passage and it’s really not very good or interesting.  It’s like highlighting “sometimes it rains and then the ground gets wet, thus contributing to the water cycle.”

    1. This is a mainstream novel dealing tangentially with mental illness and the effect it has on people’s lives.  I don’t think it’s a common topic and I think the book dealt with it very honestly. 

      By putting that passage in the book, the author is telling her readers that if they are depressed, it is not their fault and they are not alone.  Given that so much media demonizes or trivializes mental illnesses, I think it’s an important message and can understand how it would resonate with so many people.

      [mild early Hunger Games spoilers below]

      Katniss’s mother becomes depressed, disengages from the world and stops caring for her family when her husband dies.  This leaves Katniss to raise her sister and care for her mother at a very young age.  Her mother recovers somewhat over the years with the help of some hand-wavy herbal medicine, but the relationship between the characters remains strained. 

      Katniss resents her mother for disengaging, but comes to recognize that it wasn’t her mother’s fault that she was depressed in a world with no mental health care.  Rebuilding the trust between the characters is is a subplot that reflects Katniss’s general character arc (up to where I have read at least) .

      1. Perhaps it’s not a big topic in the books most YA readers read, but I’d have to say that very thing has been done quite a bit. Look at Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” as an example. I’m not recommending that book because I hated it, just presenting it as an example. Or pretty much all of Wally Lamb’s books, although they mostly jump the shark for too much bad stuff happening. My point is, there’s really well written books (which even sometimes are considered literature) that do deal with the direct and indirect effects that mental illness has on a family without demonizing it. 

        Of course, I’m not turning up my nose at genre fiction which presents the same story at a level accessible to more people. It’s just that the lower a level you write at, the less you’re likely to have written anything worth quoting. Not that it’s impossible, but that passage mentioned above does not stand out as a particularly memorable or profound example of prose, so I can’t really see a point in quoting it.

        1. Oh, totally.  I’m not arguing that the Kindle Most-Highlighted feature is a metric of quality.  I just understand why that particular line could resonate so well with readers, and I think we could find other examples of cliched sentiments that truly are the first exposure many people get to an idea.  I think it’s a mistake to look down one’s nose at those people for not finding it in a more refined context.

          Your point about general fiction vs YA or genre fiction is well taken and speaks to my own blind spots on subject matter.

    1. Exactly. Glad I’m not the only one creeped out that they know who’s highlighting what.

  3. I am going to guess that this has at least a little to do with the fact that both of these books are “free” to Amazon Prime subscribers.

  4. I think it would be much more interesting if you weren’t shown what had already been highlighted by other users. I see most of this as bandwagon jumping and people thinking “ohh, everyone else finds that passage meaningful, I want to be a part of that!” and adding a highlight of their own.

    If it weren’t already shown to have highlights, how many people would jump on it? People treat the highlights as pseudo “like” buttons on Facebook, but that’s not the same as finding the unique kitten video yourself, it’s just a way of saying “I agree with the group and now I feel a part of it!”

    1. You’re in luck, because you can turn off “popular highlights” on the Kindle. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about how this actually works.

  5. I always turn this off, because it annoys me to have the software telling me “this is the line that everyone else thought was really important!  Pay attention to it!”  It just makes the writing seem artificial, even if that wasn’t what the author was trying to do.

  6. Does this suggest that a lot of schools are assigning the Hunger Games as required reading? Because really, who but school children highlight?


  7. Does this work on the Nook as well? Because I haven’t come across any highlighted passages at all. But then, I have not read The Hunger Games and my Austen is in book form. 

  8. I’m amazed that so many of the commenters are making value judgments about the quality of the highlighted sections. Out of context we can’t judge the quality of any reference, e.g. the Jane Austen quote could be used to illustrate how comma use has changed over time.

  9. I wonder how many people have Moby Dick on their Kindles with only the word “Eskimo” highlighted.

  10. That Jane Austen, what a kidder. The actual universal truth is: 
    A single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of strippers and blow.

  11. If there’s one passage from any book that I would highlight, it has to be this one from Salman Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”:

    The world is not cyclical, not eternal or immutable, but endlessly transforms itself, and never goes back, and we can assist in that transformation.

    Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention.

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