I’ve finished my initial construction and analysis of the candidate book list, the first step getting down to the final list of fifty books. There are a total of 1,712 books, built from a dozen distinct lists of great books. As part of my analysis, I divided the books into those were published before my birth year (1966) and those that are anno moi.
The following table summarizes the breakdown for the complete list of books. Some of the percentages might not add up to 100% due to rounding, but all of the book counts should. If they don’t, keep in mind that this is a reading project, not a math test.
|All Time||Before Me||After Me|
|Total Books||1,712 (100%)||1,192 (69.6%)||520 (30.4%)|
|Fiction||1,190 (69.5%)||685 (57.5%)||505 (97.1%)|
|Nonfiction||342 (20.0%)||329 (27.6%)||13 (2.5%)|
|Plays||137 (8.0%)||137 (11.5%)||0 (0.0%)|
|Poetry||43 (2.5%)||41 (3.4%)||2 (0.4%)|
|Male Author||1,443 (84.3%)||1,054 (88.4%)||389 (74.8%)|
|Female Author||269 (15.7%)||138 (11.6%)||131 (25.2%)|
Nonfiction, poetry, and plays pretty much hit a dead end with my birth; sorry. But books by females jumped dramatically, more than doubling from 11.6 percent to 25.2 percent of listed books.
For the reading project, I will not read more than one book by a single author, so there is no sense in keeping anything in the list that isn’t an author’s magnum opus. This cuts the candidate list down to 847 books, the same as the number of unique authors represented. I’ll have more to say about the rejected books in upcoming posts.
My goal is to select fifty books that are representative of the entire candidate list, taking into account the major type of writing (fiction, nonfiction, play, poetry), the gender of the author, and whether or not the books were written before my time. Since I don’t want to put all the focus on my generation, I’ve made a fiat decision to include no more than five books (ten percent) from 1966 onward. Here is the breakdown for my target list of books.
- Fiction: 31 selections
- Nonfiction: 13 selections
- Plays: 5 selections
- Poetry: 1 selection
- Male Authors: 44 selections
- Female Authors: 6 selections
Sorry ladies, but that’s the way the great books fall. All of the selections will be from before my lifetime except for five fiction works. Regardless of the author or time period, the included books are sure to provide much challenge and growth. But whatever gets picked for the final set, the content will certainly be easier to process than this monster spreadsheet of candidate books. I’m already exhausted.
[Image Credits: Microsoft Office clip art]