Stress Reducers, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve and Running the Books

Here’s something that won’t surprise you. Recently, British researchers studied stressed volunteers by giving them various activities and checking their heart rates. The activities included listening to music, having a cup of tea or coffee, taking a walk, and — the winner which lowered the heart rate by 68% — reading. (One assumes that the reading was not a daily newspaper or anything political.) The least effect stress reducer? Video games.

Since 2011, the number of major general bookstore chains’ physical stores has dropped 32%. Meanwhile if all goes according to plan, Amazon will soon have 13 bricks-and-mortar stores. This does not include any of their grocery acquisitions.

Our library possesses an unusual book with an intriguing title, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve. The intriguing premise is best described by the jacket cover: “[Author Ben Blatt] assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words and starts asking the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Which contemporary writer uses the most cliches? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?” There are even more questions answered here, such as which bestselling authors use the most exclamation points or -ly adverbs? If you read every word of statistician Blatt’s findings, your eyes will glaze over. But it is amazing reading.

Another Longmont Library book you might enjoy is Running the Books by Avi Steinberg. It’s about being a young, Jewish librarian in a tough Boston prison. As you can imagine, it is by turns funny, disturbing, and sad.

According to science fiction author Joe Haldeman, the common advice to neophyte writers to “write what you know” has resulted in a glut of “mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.”

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Marcus Tulles Cicero

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in Summer 2017

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