A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
Remember that time Haruki Murakami decided to write an advice column and answered over 3,000 letters from fans? Well, now a selection of those letters and his wisdom-filled responses are being collected and published as book in eight volumes. Though there are no current plans to translate the work into English, we hope that changes soon – after all, what could be more charming than Murakami’s advice about cats?
“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.
In Zadie Smith’s introduction to the Writers Bloc series, she writes that the program sought essays “that were not only pious, charitable or analytical but also readable, engaging, exciting.” The essays published by Guernica certainly meet this criteria. I particularly recommend Aleksandar Hemon’s essay on first graders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.