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Nabokov's Favourite Word is Mauve

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  988 Ratings  ·  274 Reviews
What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? How can we judge a book by its cover?

Data meet literature in this playful and informative look at our favorite authors and their masterpieces. There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs
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Hardcover, 271 pages
Published 2017 by Simon & Schuster
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Radu *EDIT 5/18/17* I just got my copy in the mail today! I noticed some sort of "Reject" sticker under the current postage. I am guessing there was a…more*EDIT 5/18/17* I just got my copy in the mail today! I noticed some sort of "Reject" sticker under the current postage. I am guessing there was a mix-up in the postage which caused the delay. Hopefully the rest of you will be finding your copies soon too, if not already!

I was one of the winners as well. The books were marked as "shipped" over a month ago but I have yet to hear of any winner receiving their book. I even reached out to the publisher and did not hear anything back.(less)
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Brina
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two months ago my seventh grade son chose to write his independent book report on I Don't Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever because it details how two friends used a computer algorithm to attend games at thirty different major league baseball stadiums in thirty days. In essence, the book's primary author is a grown version of my math and baseball loving son. So moved was my son by the book that he conducted a question and answer session over ...more
Jennifer
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
I am obsessed. I was browsing the literary criticism/essays shelves at Barnes & Noble, as one does, when I happened upon this treasure. It was one of those soul-meets-book moments. Like, I had no idea I wanted this book to exist, but once I saw it I knew I had actually been waiting for it my whole life. This is Google Ngram meets human researcher, and the result is delightful.

Blatt examines writing style via statistics, focusing on specific questions to get an idea of existing patterns. Some
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Annie
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple and sweet. Conceptually uncomplicated (but a very complicated project for the author!) and a pleasant read. Reading this one gave me a similar feeling to taking fun, mindless Buzzfeed quizzes. There’s no real point, ultimately, but it was lovely to think about and muse over. I was always pleased to have time to come back to it, but nothing was heart-pounding or dramatic. The perfect book for a stressful time in your life where you need something to hold your attention without freaking you ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Statistics and novels are like peanut butter in chocolate. They go well together but you would never know till someone tried it. This book takes data mining techniques to great and popular works of literature and finds some really interesting patterns. You will find that Hemingway was right to avoid adverbs ending in -ly. You will find differences between men and women, Brits and Yanks, Texans and New Yorkers, and an identifying signature in the words of every writer in word counts and statistic ...more
Kathleen Flynn
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, which uses data analysis to look at literature, is utterly fascinating and also very funny in places, like the chapter about cliches, which made me start laughing out loud in a crowded subway car.

My only complaint is that it wasn't longer.
Rebecca Renner
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm a big numbers geek, so this was an interesting peek into word usage analysis.
Briana
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In his author bio, Ben Blatt refers to himself as a "data journalist," but the type of work he does in Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve reminds me of some of the tasks that scholars and graduate students are working on in the digital humanities. The anecdote that Blatt opens with, explaining how two scholars used statistics to determine the authors of some of the essays in the Federalist Papers in 1963, is one good example. Digital tools can make answering some of our pressing questions about wr ...more
Louise
Now that computers have demonstrated how the words of everyday life differ from words of academia and have produced corpi of words and phrases and from books, speeches and even overheard conversations, it was only a matter of time for a popular work exploring word and sentence patterns in literature to emerge.

Ben Blatt begins with the Federalist Papers which through word analysis determines (finally?) who wrote what. He checks word frequency of popular authors (hence the title), the use of short
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Michael Perkins
This is a gimmick book. Is it really a surprise that, by these metrics, the worst writers include the authors of Twilight, Fifty-Shades of Grey, and Dan Brown? Or that the the reading level for the NYT bestseller list has slid precipitously in the last 50 years? Ot that James Patterson uses the most cliches? Some of the charts can be interesting, but the surrounding prose is verbose. I'm glad I got this one out of the library.

Read (or reread) "The Elements of Style" instead.

"Omit needless words,
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Justin
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much about novels and authors throughout this entire book. Normally not a fan of nonfiction, I couldn't stop talking about this book and recommending it to everyone. It may be nerd lit but it's well worth a read if you're interested in books about books/classic literature.
Michael Bohli
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bücher zu analysieren kann Spass machen, wie auch Mathematik. Ben Blatt fügt in "Nabokov's Favourite Word Is Mauve" somit mit Literatur und Statistik zwei Welten zusammen, die wunderbar gemeinsam dahinschreiten und für unterhaltsame Erkenntnisse sorgen. So werden nicht nur die Schreibstile bekannter Autoren auseinandergenommen, sonder die Geschlechterfrage oder die Eigenheiten von Fan-Fiction.

Blatt geht sogar soweit, dass er Bücher anhand der Cover und in den Texten enthaltenen Klischees bewerte
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Greg
Fascinating concept, really: the author analyzes fifty English language authors for most of his results revealing such things as bestsellers are are using simpler terms and shorter sentences as the years pass. Is our attention span shorter? Among Texas erotica's most distinctive terms are "Trailer", "Soldiers" and "Bunk". NYorker's? It's "Museum", "Senator" and "Popsicle". Odd. And Agatha Christie novels are 'action filled' but are on the 'quiet end' of the 'loud/quiet' spectrum. I never thought ...more
SoLe Puella
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ove sam se knjige dočepala u pravom trenutku. Počela sam je čitati malo prije nego što sam krenula na seminar o statističkoj obradi lingvističkih podataka i bilo mi je beskrajno zanimljivo listati strane i strane zanimljivih pristupa knjigama, pisanju i piscima kojima je zajednička težnja ka spoju statistike i pisanja, brojeva i riječi. Nije ovo jedna od onih knjiga koje nastoje umjetnot predstaviti kao nešto što se svodi na čiste mjesre i odnose, to i sam autor navodi. On je samo iz perspektive ...more
Christian Paula
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool look into the big data of writing. A fun romp.
Bryan Alexander
What can digital technology add to the humanities?

The digital humanities field has emerged as a robust academic answer to this question (and I once got into a shouting match with Stanley Fish about it). Ben Blatt's Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve is a very quick and accessible introduction to some aspects of this field, namely machine analysis of literary texts.

Each chapter of Blatt's book sees him applying data crunching to different literary questions. Some are interesting and even provocativ
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K.M. Weiland
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating stats that provide an insightful “behind the scenes” look at what make great books and authors tick.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: This book was wonderfully entertaining with lots of great fun facts, but a little bit light on the statistics.

As book bloggers or avid reads, I suspect most of you reading this post have thought at least a little bit about what qualities make a book one of your favorites. In this book, the author tries to answer that and other intriguing bookish questions objectively using statistics. Questions he addresses include: "What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write
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Beanie
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
This book was wonderfully fascinating, both as a reader and a writer. Have you ever wondered what makes a book a bestseller? If writers follow their own advice? Or many other things about the composition of books? This book can tell you. It answered questions that I didn't even know I had in an insightful, interesting, fun way. I will think of the things that I learned from it often.
Patti Miller
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Quite a bit of fun! Learned a few new ways to look at writing and reading.
victor harris
" Numbers" in the title is the operative word. If you love data, charts, and graphs as applied to literature, then you will be in your element. Mildly interesting in spots, such as use or overuse of adverbs, but on balance quite tedious. The basic methodology is computer generated information about what author preferred what words. I am not sure writing can be reduced to quantification and statistics. The book makes some statements to that effect but is not very convincing and the delivery was l ...more
Kevin Hodgson
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did more scanning than reading, but his lines of inquiry were interesting to follow .. and the charts of data were worth careful looks
Jamie Collins
A fun book if you like metrics and statistics. It opens with a discussion of an effort to determine the authorship of 12 essays in The Federalist Papers which were claimed by both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Never mind the intellectual concepts therein: in 1963 a couple of statisticians analyzed the frequency of several common words in the other essays which were known to be written by either author - for example, Madison used the word “whilst” in over half of his essays, while Hamilto ...more
hayden
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-favorites
i bought this, today, on a whim, at the same time as laini taylor's new book (which, THANK GOD, is out now !!!!!!!!!!1).

i also, on a whim, binged the whole thing at a café.

it was cool as fuck.

as i said to a couple of my friends, i wanted it to go on for another couple hundred pages. [how cool this would be as a series!! or perhaps we can get longitudinal and follow some of the young authors cited here (e.g., gillian flynn, jonathan franzen, zadie smith, veronica roth, etc.), who haven't relea
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Marni
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and an easy read. For the right person, this qualifies as a beach book.
Leona
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Who says Data Analytics can't be fun?
Vanessa
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked the intersection of math and writing. This book has some great insights and funny discoveries. There was a good sample of authors included and it highlighted some great writing.
Thomas Edmund
You'll often hear that writing is subjective, to take writing rules with a grain of salt (or more). However in Blatt's analysis he takes a statistical and scientific approach to analyzing novels and attempts to settle some concepts objectively.

The result is a slightly unusual read, as a science AND writing nerd I absolutely loved it. A creative type may find the statistical aspects somewhat boggling, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book as part of learning to write creatively (perhaps m
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Linda
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

If you love both words and numbers, you will love this book. If you love words, but are more than slightly suspicious of numbers (I fall into this category), you may well love this book anyway. Spoiler alert—in the battle between words and numbers in this book, words win. That outcome never fails to make me happy.

What the author has done is to take massive amounts of text from classics, bestsellers, and even fanfiction, and used specialized software to analyze word use for the purpose of compari
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Anna
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 rounded up
Parts were really good, the test to determine authorship was fascinating, and the determination of favorite words was interesting. The parts where the author looked at whether authors followed their own writing advice and whether that advice really held up was interesting at first but became repetitive after a while, and the discussion of the dumbing down of literature was rather depressing, even while he tried to assert that it was not necessarily a bad thing. I would have enjoyed
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Margaret
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This number-crunching look at literature is a fun filled treat for book nerds. For instance, How many times is the word "she" used in The Hobbit? Once! Please note, I am neither upset nor outraged by this. Just fascinated.
Women write measurably differently from men, as do British writers from Americans, and it's pretty much as impossible for a writer to disguise his or her style under a pseudonym or for a co-author's style not to be distinguishable when a primary author uses multiple collaborato
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Around the Year i...: Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt 1 11 Aug 26, 2017 02:41PM