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.
Wolf Hall, you may have heard, is now a TV show, which you can watch on PBS (in the US) and BBC Two (in the UK). Is it good? According to Sonia Saraiya, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel is eminently worth watching, “a rare adaptation from book to screen that makes the most of what the visual medium can provide.” You could also read our interview with Mantel.
For the tenth anniversary of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich has penned a new foreword and introduction which you can read here.
Out this week: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang; Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta; The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet; New People by Danzy Senna; Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah; and White Plains by Gordon Lish. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
William Tyndale, one of the leading figures in the Protestant reform, was executed in 1536 for his translation of the Bible into English. Over at Asymptote Journal, Josh Billings considers the meaning of Tyndale’s death. As he explains it, “It happened in an era when translation was taken extremely seriously, not just because it allowed ordinary people to read the Bible in their own languages, but because it implied those languages were as capable of containing God’s Word as Latin, Greek or Hebrew.”