Wars and Memoirs

Cooking, dining, and book review magazine The New York Times has kindly allowed us to play around with their best sellers list.  What a gracious old gray lady?  Today we cover paperback nonfiction to see what it is that America is reading.  For some reason, a quarter of the books on this list required more than one author.

Broadway leads the number of titles in the trade fiction category with three.  Back Bay/Little, Brown and Vintage each have two.  All other publishers on the list only managed to get one book on the top twenty.  All authors had one book on the list.

The titles of the books on the list had the following characteristics:

  • Total number of letters in titles: 298
  • Total number of numbers in titles: 2
  • Correlation between length of title and rank on list: 0.41 (moderate correlation)
  • Longest title length: 31 letters, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
  • Shortest title length: 4 letters, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
  • Ratio of consonants to vowels (excluding the letter "Y"): 1.56:1
  • Number of times the letter "Y" appears: 4
  • Correlation between consonant to vowel ratio and rank on list: -0.07 (weak correlation)
  • Mean number of words in titles: 3.1
  • Maximum number of words in titles: 6
  • Minimum number of words in titles: 1
  • Correlation between number of words and rank on the list: 0.51 (moderate correlation)
  • Most frequently used letter: E; 39 times
  • Least frequently used letters: J, X, Z; 0 times
  • Number of authors whose first name starts with a vowel (excluding the letter "Y"): 3
  • Number of authors whose last name ends in a vowel (excluding the letter "Y"): 6
  • Number of books with multiple authors: 5
  • Number of authors with middle name: 1
  • Number of authors with two middle names: 0
  • Selfishness Index - Number of titles with the words me, my, mine, or I in them: 1
  • Correlation between selfish titles and rank on the list: -0.02 (weak correlation)
  • Number of books with an article in the title: 5
  • Number of cheaters (bulk buyers): 1
  • New entries or reentries: 2
  • Longest time on chart: 313 weeks
  • Negative Index - Number of books with the words murder, kill, assassin, die, dark secret, destroy, riot, sinister, prison, crime, permission, restriction, obesity, steal, covert, torture, war, fail, conspiracy, suffer, sad, or loser in The New York Times description: 4
  • Positive Index - Number of books with the words family, love, health, sharp mind, dream, flower, welcome, romance, vacation, hero, success, humor, survive, allegory, treasure, perfect, happy, or winner in The New York Times description: 1
  • Number of books with both positive and negative words: 0
  • Most frequently used words in titles: the - 5; heaven - 3; of, in, and is - 2
  • Number of titles employing alliteration: 0

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