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June 2017 Book Review

I just bought the book Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve by Ben Blatt and thought I’d recommend it to you. The premise fascinates me. Author and statistician, Ben Blatt, assembled a database of thousands of books and culls them for information. Then, he analyzes the data to answer questions about great books and writers.. What writing advice should be followed, based on the data from great writers of the past? What makes a great opening sentence? What is your favorite writer’s favorite word?

In this humorous recent NPR book review, Glen Weldon writes, “Blatt’s book isn’t terribly interested in the art of writing. What it’s fascinated by — and is fascinating about — is the craft of writing. Technique. Word choice. Sentence structure. Reading level. There’s something cheeky in the way Blatt throws genre best-sellers into his statistical blender alongside literary lions and hits puree, looking for patterns of style shared by, say, James Joyce and James Patterson.”

That sounds like a book we need to read, doesn’t it? As John Williams stated in his New York Times book review, “Reading by Numbers,” “It was only a matter of time before big data came for literature.”

Maybe we can read the book together and you can tell me what you think about it in the comments section below.



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