Monday News: Books are getting longer (?), are the best British writers women?, daily habits of writers, and book cover contest
Survey confirms the average book is 25% longer than 15 years ago – Although there is no consensus on the reasons, it does seem that on average books are longer. Now, if this is just a page count, then font size and margins needs to be considered, and bigger isn’t necessarily better. It does appear that storytelling is moving again into the larger cultural narrative, which is a good sign. If you want to know how long of an investment you will have in any book, apparently there is a way to find out how long it will take to read any particular book (apparently Great Expectations is six hours and change, which frankly seems like a pretty short time span, but I suspect that doesn’t account for underlining and note taking.
A recent study by James Finlayson from Vervesearch confirms that books are indeed getting longer. According to the study, which looked at 2,500 books from the New York Times best seller list and Google’s annual surveys, the average book length has increased by 25 percent, from 320 pages in 1999 to 400 pages in 2014. – Entertainment Weekly
Are Britain’s Best Writer’s Women? – So BBC Culture polled “international critics” to rank the top 100 British novels, and while only 40% total are by women, all but two of the top ten spots and half of the top 20 are novels by women authors. As the article points out, this ranking runs counter to most other surveys of British novels. Why? Because by “international critics” they mean those outside the UK. Which is a very interesting finding in and of itself. How does a country or commonwealth or continent’s literature appear to someone outside that context? And how/why does that differ from the perspective of an insider?
The British Isles’ mightiest novelists are women. So reveals BBC Culture’s critics’ poll of the 100 greatest British novels, which places George Eliot’s Middlemarch at number one, followed by Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein also feature in the top 10, leaving room for just two male authors to muscle in: Charles Dickens with Great Expectations, Bleak House and David Copperfield, and William Makepeace Thackeray with Vanity Fair.
Look more closely, and you’ll find that books by women account for fully half of the poll’s top 20 titles. Scroll all the way down to 100, and they make up nearly 40 per cent – a notable achievement given that our critics have favoured works that have already stood the test of time, and were written back when it took infinitely more pluck and grit for a woman to break into print than her brother. (Middlemarch may occupy the top spot, but let’s not forget that Mary Ann Evans felt obliged to publish it under a man’s name.) Almost a third of the poll’s titles date from the 18th and 19th Centuries, and a further 22 were published before 1950. – BBC Culture
The Daily Habits of Famous Writers: Franz Kafka, Haruki Murakami, Stephen King & More – So while I wish they had chosen some female authors to include as subjects and not interviewers, there is an enduring interest in how other people organize their work. I don’t think this is exclusive to writers, but I understand it can be inspiring to those trying to develop a successful routine for themselves. More anecdotes are on the Daily Routines website. Stephen King, with what appears to be a pretty disciplined routine:
So what does King’s routine look like? “There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” he’s quoted as saying in Lisa Rogak’s Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King:
“I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.” – Open Culture
Got it covered? – I hardly ever pay attention to book covers anymore, but if that’s your thing, see how you do with this contest from The Bookseller. One hundred books covers from the past year’s releases, and you have to identify them in full from only a small excerpted image. I recognized one right off the bat. ONE. — The Bookseller