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.
Recommended Reading: Mary Addison Hackett reflects on heroin and harm reduction at n+1. “It is clear that no one — no neuroscientist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician — can explain what addiction is or account for its contradictions. Tobacco, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, MDMA, amphetamines — are they inherently addictive? Common knowledge suggests they are. But all around me I see exceptions more than the rule, my friends who use, have used, some or all of these drugs, including heroin, casually. I, too, am one of the exceptions.”
Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker comments on why we still write to win prizes (and hails Mario Vargas Llosa for having “a lively personal life that includes once punching out another future laureate…Gabriel García Márquez, reportedly over something to do with Mrs. Vargas Llosa. The Nobel thus not only crowns a career but provides the basis for a fine future Javier Bardem/Antonio Banderas movie.”)
True James Joyce fans don’t need to be reminded that today, June 16th, is the 110th Bloomsday–the day of Leopold Bloom’s fictional wanderings-about-Dublin commemorated in the 732 pages of Ulysses. Though the most traditional way to celebrate Bloomsday may be to follow in his literal footsteps with your own tour of the city, as the Paris Review explains, there’s more than one way to prove your love for Joyce even if you never read his book.