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Nabokov's Favourite Word Is Mauve
Nabokov's Favourite Word Is Mauve: The literary quirks and oddities of our most-loved authors | Ben Blatt
40 posts | 28 read | 112 to read
Nabokov's Favourite Word is Mauve is a playful look at what the numbers have to say about our favourite authors and their classic books. Journalist and statistician Ben Blatt asks the questions that have intrigued curious book lovers for generations: Does each writer have their own stylistic footprint? Do men and women write differently? What are the crutch words our best-loved authors fall back on? Which writer is the most cliched? Spanning from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to fan fiction, JK Rowling and Stephen King, Blatt reveals the quirks and oddities of the world's greatest writers. This is a lighthearted, humorous book that uses numbers to inform our understanding of words to enlighten, to clarify, and, above all, to entertain.
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ImperfectCJ
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Pickpick

This is a fun look at word stats in various books, but I'm not sure how significant it is.

slategreyskies I‘ve always hated the word mauve. I‘m not sure what bothers me about it, but I love the color, so it annoys me when it‘s put in the names of some of my favorite nail polish or lipstick colors. Mauve Berry. Mauve Over. Mauvelous. Etc. Now you know something randomly weird about me. 🤣 3mo
ImperfectCJ @slategreyskies I've had negative feelings about the word mauve ever since I read how Nabokov used it in Lolita. Combined with the lipstick color thing you mention, it's especially ick. 3mo
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CampbellTaraL
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Pickpick

An interesting analysis on top sellers and classics performed by the author. Data is tricky because it is easily manipulated to tell any story depending on your angle. In this case, I doubt there was anything intentionally misleading but it is good to keep in mind the fact the author is a journalist/writer, not a data scientist or professional. Still, there were some interesting takeaways and the book was a quick, easy read.

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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Pickpick

Such a weird, fun, odd, interesting, and quirky book! This book looks at classics, bestsellers, award winners and analyzes them using modern tech like word counts & algorithms. All those “rules of English” you learned in school, are they right? Do “good” books statistically have less cliches, exclamation points, or -Ly descriptors? What defines good? What is an author‘s favorite word? The answers are fascinating, and sometimes just plain weird.

Riveted_Reader_Melissa I finally finished this one @tjwill and it‘s already on its way back to you. Thank you for being so patient as I went through a bit of a book slump there, with physical books returning last. Another great year for #NForNonfiction @daniwithtea @BarbaraTheBibliophage 13mo
squirrelbrain Sounds fascinating - stacked. 13mo
tjwill @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I totally understand going through book slumps! It was a good #NforNonfiction year! (edited) 13mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @tjwill Yes it was, we always get a good mix of topics, and books I never knew I needed to read. 13mo
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daniwithtea
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Pickpick

This was fun and interesting in unexpected ways! @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I will have this in the mail to you tomorrow :)

@tjwill @BarbaraTheBibliophage

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Thank you! I guess that means I better finish up mine, I‘m behind…again… LOL 🤪 1y
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Riveted_Reader_Melissa None of us are exactly on time this month! I am sending my book off to Dani tomorrow. 🤪 1y
daniwithtea @Riveted_Reader_Melissa @BarbaraTheBibliophage sounds like we‘re all having a busy summer! 😁 1y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa @daniwithtea True, very true… but we also have a great group that doesn‘t keep them forever, but also doesn‘t make you feel rushed if it takes a bit longer. Sone just take a bit more time to process. 1y
tjwill @daniwithtea @Riveted_Reader_Melissa @BarbaraTheBibliophage This has been a good set of nonfiction this summer! And yes, too busy! I should be sending the next along by Tuesday or Wednesday. 1y
BarbaraTheBibliophage @tjwill @Riveted_Reader_Melissa @daniwithtea We did pick well! And I‘m looking forward to this last one too. 1y
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MariaW
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Pickpick

Very interesting nonfiction book talking about novel statistics, e.g. mostly used words, the best first or last sentences, typical words used by men and women and the quantity of different novels. It made me chuckle a lot of times. And it comes with a huge TBR list in the appendix - actually the database Blatt was using for research. 😍
Can you guess the most impressive first sentence of a novel, that is recognizable at once by almost everyone?

swynn It's either one about the best and worst of times, or one about happy families. (Third guess: a single man, a fortune, and a wife.) 1y
MariaW @swynn Very close. “Best and worst times” was mentioned as well, but in the stylistic devices section. 😊 (edited) 1y
Ruthiella I‘ll guess “Call me Ishmael” from Moby Dick. 🐳 (edited) 1y
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MariaW @Ruthiella You‘re right. 💪💪💪 1y
Ruthiella @MariaW The book that nobody has read but everyone knows its first line. 😆 1y
MariaW @Ruthiella I will try this summer. 🙈 1y
swynn @Ruthiella Yay Ruthiella! Got it in one! 1y
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MariaW
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Though there‘s a lot of more grinning going on in popular fiction. […] Men grin.

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MariaW
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This will be my next read. I saw @BarbaraTheBibliophage ‘s feedback and had to buy it. I do not only like to read fiction, but non-fiction as well - which talks about my favourite fiction. 🤪

BarbaraTheBibliophage Hope you enjoy it! 1y
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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Pickpick

Blatt uses statistical analysis to examine books written by bestselling, classic, or award winning authors. It sounds like 💤 but it‘s not. His writing is readable and I like his wry sense of humor. And I‘ll never view the cliffhanger at the end of a chapter the same. Not to mention adverbs ending in -ly. Word nerd heaven!

Full review http://www.TheBibliophage.com #thebibliophage2021 #nonfiction2021 #aboutreading #nisfornonfiction

BarbaraTheBibliophage @daniwithtea I will send this by Tuesday so hopefully you‘ll have it around the 1st. 📬 1y
ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled Definitely interested! Stacked! 1y
Librariana Totally stacking! Sounds phenomenal! 1y
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daniwithtea It arrived yesterday, thank you!! @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I am finishing up my book and will have it in the mail by the end of the week - sorry to be running a few days behind! 1y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @daniwithtea no problem at all, I‘m just finishing up my own and have the same plan! 😂 1y
BarbaraTheBibliophage @daniwithtea Wowow! That got to you so fast. Enjoy! 1y
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tjwill
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Pickpick

This book looks at what makes an author unique by the numbers of individual words, types of phrases, length of sentences, chapters, etc. There were some slower parts, but in general I thought it was an interesting analysis of how authors use language. And I love visual data!
#NforNonfiction

@BarbaraTheBibliophage I just put this in the mail to you. They said it should be there by Tuesday!

BarbaraTheBibliophage I will watch for it. Thanks! 1y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa Sounds very interesting! 1y
sherri Sounds fascinating! Adding to my TBR. 1y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Arrived today!! (edited) 1y
tjwill @BarbaraTheBibliophage Great! I look forward to seeing your thoughts! 1y
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tjwill
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It has charts and graphs! I‘m looking forward to reading this one! #NforNonfiction

BarbaraTheBibliophage 🤓🤓 Fun! 2y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa That looks like fun, I‘m excited to see the comparisons across authors. And it‘s so interesting to see author patterns, and I‘d guess great for identifying unnamed authors. 2y
wanderinglynn I love that there is a chart of exclamation points. I feel that this will soon be at the top of my NF TBR. 😆👍🏻 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Hey Tara … I‘m trying to plan my June reading. Any idea when this might reach me?? 😘 1y
tjwill @BarbaraTheBibliophage Yes, I will finish by the weekend and mail by Monday (or earlier if possible)! Sorry I‘m running behind! I‘m teaching summer school this week and taking a class as well. It‘s been hectic for the beginning of summer! It‘s actually a fairly quick read, but I have only been able to read little bits at a time lately, besides audiobooks while I‘m driving. (edited) 1y
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LiteraryinLawrence
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Pickpick

This was the right book at the right time for me. It was informative, well-researched... and had no emotional valence. So the author analyzed thousands of books on a sentence- and word- level and then made observations about what trends in word choice mean. For example, do women and men write differently? What about Brits versus Americans? Do authors have a unique literary fingerprint? Empirically, what has changed about bestsellers over decades?

LiteraryinLawrence Thanks for gifting this to me, @BennettBookworm ! 3y
Librariana Sounds fantastic and deeply intriguing! 3y
Kimberlone Sounds fascinating! 3y
sharread Welcome to the Pen Pal group. 👍👏 3y
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Billypar
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Mehso-so

Quantitative analyses of literature sounded perfect for me, but I was disappointed- for every interesting application- finding a literary 'fingerprint' based on frequencies of commonly used words, or comparing authors on rates of cliches- there were one or two achingly dull ones. For example, seeing if U.S. Harry Potter fan fiction authors use 'bloke' and 'blimey' more than other U.S. fan fic, isn't to me a stunning cross-cultural finding 😴

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jenniferw88
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@JoeStalksBeck I just signed up! Love this idea... now off to choose my favourite book! 🤔😊

JoeStalksBeck Thanks! 5y
jenniferw88 @JoeStalksBeck I should have put on the form/email that I don't mind sending to Europe - just not totally international! 😂 4y
JoeStalksBeck I‘ll note it ;) 4y
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JessNevertheless
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Finally received my books which were being held hostage in my building's locked storeroom for 4 days. 😡 Happy I have them now though. 🌵📚 #bookhaul

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LiteraryinLawrence
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I had a lovely, relaxing 35th birthday weekend that included some quality reading time. 💜 I was so excited to receive these 4 books from my sister @BennettBookworm and my boyfriend @wanderer15 ! I want to read all of them immediately (if only Monday was part of the weekend...). Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

asiriusreader Happy birthday! 5y
Swe_Eva Happy birthday! 🎈🎉🎂 5y
Pamwurtzler Happy birthday! 5y
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shadowspeak17 Happy birthday!!! 🎉🎂🎊🎁🎈 5y
Branwen Happy Birthday! 😀🎂🍰🎈💞📚 5y
DivineDiana Wishing you a year filled with great books! 🎉📚🎉 5y
EH2018 Happy birthday! 5y
mrozzz Happy birthday!! 🎉🎁🎈📚📚📚 5y
kspenmoll Happy birthday! Wonderful gifts! 🎉💃🏻🎂 5y
rohit-sawant Happy Birthday! 🎉🎉 5y
BennettBookworm YAYYYY IMMEDIATE READING PARTY! 🤓 5y
Christine Happy Birthday! 🎉 5y
batsy Happy birthday! 🎉🎈 A great bunch of gifts 📚📚 5y
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tournevis
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I don't know who started this one, but here I go! (ETA: it's the marvelous @JoScho ❤️❤️❤️)

1️⃣💜🖤💙
2️⃣🚀🛸
3️⃣🐈
4️⃣Rare watercolour pigments🖌️
5️⃣🍫
6️⃣Crunchy chips
7️⃣Of the three, coffee☕

alisiakae It was started by @JoScho 😃😃 5y
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Daisey
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Pickpick

This book has some fascinating information! I think I enjoyed the earlier sections more, but all of it was interesting. I also downloaded the PDF so that I could look at the charts, an incredibly important part of this book.

#nonfiction #audiobook

kathleenaflynn I enjoyed this book very much. 5y
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Pruzy
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“Authors end up writing in a way that is both unique and consistent, just like an actual fingerprint is distinct and unchanging.”

-Ben Blatt, author of Nabokov‘s Favorite Word Is Mauve, on how authors can be identified by something as simple as their usage of “The” and “And” in their writing.

saresmoore Thank you for reminding me to read this book! 5y
Pruzy @saresmoore It is phenomenal! (Although I haven‘t run the stats on that yet!) 5y
ephemeralwaltz Oh this looks so interesting!! 5y
Pruzy @ephemeralwaltz The whole book is filled with interesting figures! 5y
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Daisey
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It's a beautiful evening and I made it home at a decent hour to enjoy it. I started this on my walk and am already finding it fascinating! I need to see if I can download the PDF so I can look at the graphs, but I'm sticking with audio because I don't have easy access to the print version nor time to read it now.

Fun fact for my fellow #LotRChapterADay readers: Tolkien used the word ring more than 750 times in LotR.

#audiobook #nonfiction

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Pruzy
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Just wanted to plug a book that I am excited to read (Nabokov‘s Favourite Word is Mauve by Ben Blatt) while basking in haircut freshness.

The book examines writing trends in classic and contemporary literature and dishes out all the stats. Perhaps I will finally learn whether Hemingway actually does craft the leanest sentences.

TommieMarie74 This sounds right up my alley. Stacked! (And your haircut is ON POINT!) 😊 5y
Pruzy @TommieMarie74 I wanted this book for so long. When my local bookstore finally had it, it was an insta-buy. 5y
LeahBergen Nice cut! 👍🏻 5y
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Pruzy @LeahBergen Thanks! 🍻 5y
EKonrad Definitely interested in this one! 5y
Daisey Looking forward to hearing what you think. I really want to read/listen to this one. 5y
Pruzy @EKonrad Did I mention that the graphs are in colour?? 5y
Pruzy @Daisey It‘s definitely one to read, tons of figures. I hope to get to it soon! 5y
EKonrad I love a good graph! Lol 5y
Pruzy @EKonrad Who doesn‘t? 5y
CouronneDhiver Looks great! 5y
monalyisha Look at that swoop! 🌊 5y
Pruzy @monalyisha We‘ll see how long it lasts before my hair grows out too much 😆 5y
monalyisha My husband‘s always tryna get that perfect wave but, as yet, it eludes him. The struggle to be fly is real. 😆 5y
Pruzy @monalyisha It takes communication with your hairdresser. Just remember, you are a team! lol 5y
monalyisha @pruzy He goes to Supercuts. That *might* explain it. 😉 He also has pretty fine hair, which I used to say made him look like a “baby duck” but apparently that‘s “emasculating.” Who knew? 😂🐣 5y
Pruzy @monalyisha Haha, you can find a decent place for just double the cost of supercuts...doesn‘t have to break the bank. Also, have you tried baby mallard? Maybe that would go over better? 5y
monalyisha @Pruzy Mallard‘s are rather distinguished-looking fowls. I‘m sure that would have worked much better. Hindsight is 20/20, what can I say? 5y
Pruzy @monalyisha Haha, Fowl Baby, now that sounds intimidating! 5y
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Court7
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Pickpick

Excellent pop sociology! I like words and math and this book combined them. :)

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SarahSaysRead
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Pickpick

Data and literature combine into an examination of some delicious book nerdery. Things like writing differences between male & female authors, usage of adverbs, and how much cover space author names take up. The audio was great - even though the hard copy had graphs, I didn't miss them much. Writers might enjoy this a lot more. 🔊📖📊

#readharder #booksaboutbooks #audible #audiobooks #writing #style

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Kangaj1
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Jaw-dropping haul!! Three different sized book sleeves plus all the books plus a perfect wall sign! So stinking excited to get to all of these! Nice job, @Bookchipmunk !!!!! Thank you so much for all of this!!!!! And thank you, @BookishMarginalia , for all your work putting this together!

JoeStalksBeck Whoa!! You got a mini library!! 👏👏👏👏 5y
CouronneDhiver Awesome! That's a ton of great stuff 😎 5y
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Reviewsbylola Jackpot! 5y
Kmmsellers Wow! 5y
LauraBrook Whoa! 💖💖💖 5y
Bookchipmunk Glad you like them, enjoy! 😊🐶 5y
tpixie Awesome! I love my book buddy! I use it to protect my #covertocover books!! And you have 3!!!! 🎊🎉🎁 #SummerSolsticeBookExchange (edited) 5y
Bookchipmunk @tpixie I can't resist buying book sleeves! 5y
tpixie @Bookchipmunk 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 5y
Kangaj1 I did not have any before...so excited! 5y
tpixie @Kangaj1 yes. @Bookchipmunk solved my dilemma- I couldn't figure out what size to buy for my Secret Santa, she bought all three sizes! 5y
Faibka Been kind of late in keeping up to date with Litsy but just saw this and have to say I hope you read Stoner soon!! It is such an awesome book!! It would've been my pick for the postal club but I didn't have enough time to get it. 5y
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Mc_cart_ny
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Books, they have many uses. Including assisting with a post throw up incident.....

MarriedtoMrT 😂 and 😳 Hope all is well! 5y
Mc_cart_ny @MarriedtoMrT All is well, on rare occasions my toddler gets too excited while laughing and throws up a little. I'd call it a typical, burp/spitup amount but he's somehow not a tiny infant anymore...😮 5y
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Read-eat-travel-repeat
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Pickpick

This book is fascinating! I am really enjoying the in depth look at how authors write. Even though there are a lot of stats in this book, it's very easy to read and quite entertaining. I feel like I have learned a lot!

MyNamesParadise This just came as a giveaway from Goodreads for me the other day! 6y
Read-eat-travel-repeat @MyNamesParadise Oh how fun! Giveaways are so exciting! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, it was such an interest 6y
Read-eat-travel-repeat @MyNamesParadise whoops, cut myself off. I thought it was such an interesting way to look at reading/writing! 6y
MyNamesParadise @Read-eat-travel-repeat oh yay!! Good to know!! 😊😊 6y
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rachellayown
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Pickpick

This book isn't going to appeal to everyone, but for a word nerd it's pretty delightful. The author uses a database to determine things like how often different authors use adverbs, follow their own writing advice, and what words they use the most. It's the kind of book some people would find stupid or boring, but for a nerdy bookworm/ writer like myself, it's interesting and fun.

Yournewfriendsams Oo, not sure if I'd want to read, but I bet you're learned a bunch a fun statistical stuff! Stats are so fun! 6y
LiteraryinLawrence Interesting! @wanderer15 , I wonder if this would be up your alley? 6y
Reggie Have you ever read Peter Straub's The Hellfire Club? I think the gist of this book pertains to that book. 6y
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rachellayown Yeah, I didn't know stats could be fun @Yournewfriendsams but you're right! 6y
rachellayown It is interesting @LiteraryinLititz! If you read it @wanderer15 I hope you enjoy it. 6y
rachellayown I haven't @Reggie. I'll have to check it out! 6y
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Betty_Bookworm
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Bailedbailed

While I enjoyed hearing about this book, and I like the idea of it, it's just not something I feel I will enjoy enough to read. I have too many books waiting to be read.

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Nutmegnc
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Nabokov was influenced by his synesthesia. And Mauve was his favorite according to his autobiography. #thewholereasoniboughtthisbook #iamobsessedwithNabokov #fangirl

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Nutmegnc
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Nutmegnc
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balletbookworm
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Pickpick

A fun intersection of statistics and literature. His methodology is less rigorous, imo, than that of The Bestseller Code, but this is far more entertaining. It's a "I wonder what it would look like if I searched for..." book: What word does an author use most frequently? Do authors follow their own writing advice? And do fanfic writers try to out-British the Brits with their slang? (That was a fun one.) He did try to get a wide-ranging sample.

balletbookworm Lots of NYT bestsellers, classics, critical hits, etc but he didn't get very far into genre beyond authors who have crossed over into the mainstream NYT lists. I have to rap his knuckles a bit about the Gender chapter: it wasn't terrible, but an acknowledgement that he was sticking with the binary for "x reason" would have been a start. It was a bit facile. 6y
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AlexMay
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I unknowingly read the excerpt on #electriclit and loved it. So I preordered it and the day has arrived! I'm so close to finishing East of Eden though so I may have to flick between the two. #tbr

Notafraidofwords How are you liking East of Eden. I finished it recently and loved it. 6y
AlexMay @Notafraidofwords I'm only getting to read it in 20min bursts but I really love it. I've never read a book that spans generations before and love the way it makes you feel like you really know the characters inside and out. What did you like most? (I'm 75% of the way through ;) 6y
Notafraidofwords @AlexMay the second half for sure was a better experience for me, mostly because it felt more like a journey at that point. Plus, for some reason I love reading about land and how one makes money off land. I'm not sure why, but I just do. My grandpa was a farmer, maybe that's why. This book has a lot of that. 6y
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AlexMay @Notafraidofwords Interesting! I only had a great uncle that farmed, but when (Hamilton?) suggested the conveyor belt for eggs it reminded me of my great uncle's barn. So far I'm preferring the Cathy parts. Although she's a massive caricature created after Steinbeck's divorce, the scenes are so unpredictable !!! Love it! 6y
saresmoore I am so looking forward to this book! 6y
AlexMay @saresmoore Can confirm - It's good so far 👍👍👍👍👍 6y
Centique Statistical analysis and the classics? I'm sold! *adds to mountainous TBR* 6y
AlexMay @Centique So many statistics. *hush tones* and there are scatter graphs. Scatter graphs everywhere. 6y
Centique @alexmay be still my beating heart! 😂😂 6y
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balletbookworm
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Blatt's got a few issues in his methodology (he's not a statistician) but he is finding interesting little corners of data. Like, who follows their own writing advice? And who uses animal similes? &shrug

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balletbookworm
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Tanzy13 🐱 6y
Sace 😻 6y
32 likes2 comments
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balletbookworm
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This is a wheelhouse I didn't even know I had: data science/mining plus literary analysis. These are my people. #newbooks #epic #nerdpurr

Megabooks Ooo...sounds cool! 6y
Sue Oh, this sounds amazing! 6y
saresmoore I'm jealous! This'll be my first purchase when I'm allowed (by myself) to buy books again! 😏 6y
twohectobooks This looks awesome! I love it when I start noticing a writer's tics. 6y
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Kangaj1

I looked up all of Liberty's March picks tonight and added many to my TBR. This looked amazing to me, and our library system doesn't have it. Grr.

Weaponxgirl Hate when that happens 6y
16 likes1 comment
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simonbooks
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What happens when a statistician brings big data to the literary canon?

readinginthedark Ooh! This sounds fun! 5y
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Heideschrampf
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Here's an interesting read for those of you with a knack for computed linguistics:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/10/what-famous-writers-most-used-word...

Lacythebookworm Interesting article. Thanks for sharing! 😊 6y
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Liberty
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I read the description of this book and immediately rolled over and showed it my belly. It sounds like an epic nerdpurr. 💕📚😍

LeahBergen That sounds fab! 6y
KarenUK Stacked! Sounds so good 😊📚 6y
Boghunden Sounds pretty interesting! 6y
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Godmotherx5 Sounds very good. 6y
Gleefulreader Nerdpurr is my new favourite description! 6y
whatthelog !!!! Books about books are my guilty pleasure 😍 6y
Liberty @whatthelog Then you should definitely check out this one, out today: 6y
whatthelog @Liberty omgggggg yesssssss 6y
149 likes31 stack adds9 comments