Tuesday, February 03, 2015

pages through the ages

A couple of follow-up notes about that last book review: firstly I should point out the odd coincidence whereby the narratives of both Birdsong and its predecessor The Birthday Boys begin in the same year, 1910. The business of tunneling towards the enemy from your First World War trench to plant explosives was also touched upon, more briefly, in Waiting For Sunrise.

Secondly, and more importantly, Birdsong is the 200th book to appear in this list since it started in September 2006. This review in September 2010 marked book number 100, and included a few selected statistical delights, so let's see how the second hundred compares:
  • 28 of the second 100 were by women, compared with 25 of the first 100;
  • 100 novels in 1580 days is a slightly slower pace than 1475 days for the first 100, but to be fair I didn't have any children back then. Split the 200 into four blocks of 50 and the first three blocks occupy 780, 683 and 564 days respectively, and the fourth, which starts almost exactly at the time Nia was born in April 2012, occupies 1002 days;
  • Another explanation for the delay is that the second 100 books comprise 30,761 pages, compared with 28,398 for the first 100. If you do the maths you'll find that that actually works out at 19.47 pages per day, fractionally faster than the first 100 at 19.25;
  • The greater page count is partly explained by the presence of Until I Find You, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest and Infinite Jest, which at 924, 746 and 1079 pages respectively are all longer than the 653 pages of The Corrections, the longest book in the first 100;
  • The only authors to appear more than once in the second 100 books are: Beryl Bainbridge, Iain Banks (once with the M, once without), Ian McEwan, Lawrence Durrell, Patricia Highsmith, Russell Hoban, Stieg Larsson and William Boyd. Highsmith, Hoban and Boyd feature three times each, all the others twice. So that means the 100 books featured 89 different authors, a slightly less diverse bunch than the first 100 which featured 93;
  • Conversely, 44 of the 100 were by authors who were new to me, compared with 42 last time.
It's going terribly well, so let's press on. See you again some time in 2019.

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