Book Recommendation: Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve
English too subjective for you? Ben Blatt's new book helps take some of the mystery out of putting words together.
In Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve, statistician and journalist Blatt analyses authors' language using a database that includes the full text of thousands of books. What he finds helps answer questions writers have been asking for years:
- Does overusing adverbs weaken writing?
- Do thought verbs make writing unclear?
- Are clichés best avoided?
- Do writers have a "fingerprint" formed by the words they use?
The book is a fascinating study that assigns some hard numbers to the subjective realm of writing. Blatt's style is clear and interesting (he's clearly following the advice he's unearthed), and though the subject will be of particular interest to people who want to improve their use of language, book lovers, too, will enjoy reading about well-known authors and what their choice of words reveals.
Nabokov, as the title suggests, prefers the word "mauve." Ray Bradbury, on the other hand, has a fondness for "spearmint."