Twitter lets writers think in public, and it’s changing the way we write, Thomas Beller argues in The New Yorker. “Does articulating a thought in public freeze it in place somehow, making it not part of a thought process but rather a tiny little finished sculpture? Is tweeting the same as publishing?”
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.
“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text’ instead of fictional literature,” writes Lyndsey Layton. Is this the end of The Catcher in the Rye?
According to The Guardian, "researchers in Australia have developed a computer program which writes its own fables, complete with moral." No word yet on whether they're any good.
What's the best book of the 21st century? To date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao seems to be the favorite - the BBC polled a few dozen US critics and Junot Diaz's novel came in first place. The full list is available from The Guardian, and includes Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, both of which appeared alongside Oscar Wao in our own "Best of the Millennium" list a few years ago.