Sent to me by Simon & Schuster UK in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format: Hardback, 288pp
Summed up in a word: Inquisitive
It was great to be back reading analytical non-fiction after quite a while away. I love reviewing thought-provoking and engrossing factual pieces but I don’t get that many through for review. Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is a brilliant opportunity to learn more about the authors we love. From Jane Austen to James Patterson, Ben Blatt sorts though all the statistics to find out what really made them so appealing to us as readers. I had a lot of fun with this book and I highly recommend it to all readers. It was a refreshing change filled with quirks, humour and surprising facts. It is books like this that keep me coming back to non-fiction.
I am hosting a giveaway on this post (more details at the bottom of the page) so please enter for a chance to win yourself a copy of Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve (UK only).
Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is a playful look at what the numbers have to say about our favourite authors and their classic books. Journalist and statistician Ben Blatt asks the questions that have intrigued curious book lovers for generations: Does each writer have their own stylistic footprint? Do men and women write differently? What are the crutch words our best-loved authors fall back on? Which writer is the most clichéd? Spanning from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to fan fiction, JK Rowling and Stephen King, Blatt reveals the quirks and oddities of the world’s greatest writers. This is a lighthearted, humorous book that uses numbers to inform our understanding of words to enlighten, to clarify, and, above all, to entertain.
It is immediately clear that Ben Blatt has put so much time and effort into Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve. The sheer quantity of research that BB put together was staggering and it certainly pays off. BB has set out to provide us with an objective and unbiased perspective on many of the pressing questions concerning literature. Each chapter is focused on a significant area of writing, from style, use of words and gender influences to advertising and advice. All the answers that BB provides to these questions are purely statistical; using text analysis and algorithms to identify patterns in the works of both modern and classic literature. Sounds intense? Well don’t be alarmed because BB’s delivery is both whimsical and intriguing. In his own words.
“The analytical approach to writing can be amusing and informative and downright funny” Quote from page 7.
Ben Blatt is not wrong! I was both amused and amazed by the quirks and patterns that BB was able to unearth from using simple text analysis programs. Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is rooted in both the past and the present. BB compares author’s like Steven King, Chuck Palahniuk and Janet Evanovich to classic authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Wolfe and George Orwell. Blatt has sorted through this information and revealed some useful pointers; statistically speaking. If you are writing a book then you may want to check out Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve first as BB might have discovered some secrets to the success of novels.
Ben Blatt’s writing sits on a fine line between humour and seriousness; but it is the numbers that take the spotlight here. The graphs and tables tell so many stories in themselves. Rooting through thousands of pieces of literature0, including Twilight and Harry Potter fan fiction, BB performs 7 distinctive and hugely entertaining literary experiments that totally changes the way we view literature. I enjoyed all of the thought-provoking exercises that BB shared with us; but my favourite is most definitely the ‘literary fingerprint’ section. I was astonished that, with text analysis, it is possible to identify an author from a portion of their work with near-perfect accuracy. The most famous case of this was the Stephen King/Richard Bachman scenario. King was outed for writing 5 novels under a different name; a reader who used text analysis correctly guessed they were indeed the same author.
Overall I have given Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve 4/5 stars. I thought it was a brilliant read that revealed so much that our brains couldn’t naturally connect together. I will certainly be seeking out more of Ben Blatt’s work. I will be revisiting this book again in the future as I believe it will have just as much to offer the second time around. This book isn’t for everyone but if you enjoy learning more about what made the great’s great then Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve is a book for you.
About Ben Blatt
Ben Blatt is a former staff writer for Slate and The Harvard Lampoon who has taken his fun approach to data journalism to topics such as Seinfeld, mapmaking, The Beatles, and Jeopardy! He is the author of Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve and, with Eric Brewster, the coauthor of I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back, which follows the duo’s quest to go on the mathematically optimal baseball road trip, traveling 20,000 miles to a game in all thirty ballparks in thirty days without planes. Blatt’s work has also been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and Deadspin. (Bio found on Amazon UK)
Photograph © Sierra Katow.
Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve Giveaway (UK only)!
This is my first official giveaway on Always Trust In Books. I have a fantastically inviting copy of Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve up for grabs today. All I require from you is your favourite word posted here in the comments or on the Twitter/Facebook post that you most likely followed to get here! That is it 😀 I shall announce the winner on Monday 26th of June. Thank you as always for your support and until next time, happy reading!