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.
Out this week: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt; The Heaven of Animals by David James Poissant; Cementville by Paulette Livers; Damage Control by Amber Dermont; Blood Will Out by Up in the Air author Walter Kirn; Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler; and The Haunted Life, a new collection of early writing by Jack Kerouac.
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library’s excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. “In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations.”
Leslie Jamison and Francine Prose discuss the ways reading can affect your life for the worse, with potential results ranging from murder to being bad at sports.
A group of Austrian artists aims to “reconfigure and recontextualize” a memorial to Austrian poet Josef Weinheber, who engaged in Nazi activities and wrote numerous pro-Hitler propaganda pieces. Michael Kaminer caught up with Eduard Freudmann, the leader of the Vienna-based push for recontextualization, who hopes to spark a debate “about how to proceed with the … artistic reconfiguration of a Nazi monument.”
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”