the ordinary blog
Since my last blog post the summer has come and gone and the nights are drawing in which still has the capacity to surprise and disappoint me! Don’t get me started on S.A.D. But on the bright side autumn and winter means more time to read through the long nights and improve the website too.
As well as not blogging over a mostly enjoyable few months I realised that I hadn’t scored any of the books from the first half of the year as planned. I also hadn’t made any conclusions from my index card project. In this blog post I will address the scoring system as most of the changes to the site recently have been this.
Once I did the math the top 5 books of the first half of the year were :
Comparing books across all genres is not easy when you start thinking about it, even
when it is just a bit of fun. Metacritic used to but scrapped it a few years back while most book awards stick to genres or categories. The Costa Book of the Year bucks this trend but picks an overall winner from the group winner, like a book version of Crufts.
When I did this in January and tried to find a template of sorts google couldn’t find me an answer, I even went further than the first couple of pages of the search. So I made my own based on the wisdom of Daniel Kahneman and scored all the books read out of 5 in the following categories to make a maximum score of 30
Cognitive Ease, Best Moment, Story, Memorability, Importance and Talkability.
My biggest concern once the scores were in was that there was bias towards books that were read towards the end of the year just because they were fresher in my mind. The Happiness Hypothesis in particular was rated far lower than it should have been.
So the first decision I made was that I was going to review each book 3 months after I had finished it. Well real life has got in the way so at the end of August I decided I must score all the books from Jan-June and repeat the process early next year for the books second half of 2016. I might even get out the virtual red carpet for a virtual awards ceremony. I have already started giving virtual medals to books that exemplify “the best part of ordinary”
I knew I was going to try and improve the criteria too as I didn’t really like the idea of a best moment which is suited more to film and TV and replaced it with the simpler Enjoyment. There was no category that marked the technical and literacy level of the book. They can be harder to read but tend to bring a bigger emotional reward.
Night Games gave me the impetus for Expectation, what I call The Ronseal Effect as to quote Jamie Lawson’s song “I wasn’t expecting that”. Reading about gang rape whilst giving blood is a very odd combination which I wouldn’t recommend.
Finally Importance was amended to Longevity, a nod to Nasim Taleb who is states that time is by far the best judge of a books worthiness.
There were quite a few books on the same score for 2015 so I tried moving to 1-10 scale to help avoid this but after rating the first few I reverted back to 1-5 as it felt too difficult to be consistent in my scoring.
Only after scoring all 19 books did I then stop and think. What is the definition of each score for each category? If I am going to do this properly shouldn’t I spend a little time to address this? Below is the result, bad jokes included as standard :
Ease of Read
1 – Unless it’s by Chaucer this is not a good place to be.
2 – As Rihanna would say it’s work, work, work, work
3 - Challenging – This can be very good or bad or sometimes both!
4 - Like a good workout just enough to get me out of my comfort zone
5. Easy like Sunday morning
1 – Nothing detected - Mills and Boon level – Not that I’d know I’ve never read any- ever
2 - Brain rarely called upon – not a bad thing sometimes
3 – Standard level for good fiction/non-fiction. Competent
4 – In depth / complex structure –
5 – Brain working fully to digest. Highest quality literature
1 – What's the story? No morning glory
2 – Feels like many ideas or short stories put together
3 – Slightly fractured or incoherent but no real damage to the experience
4 – Some deviation but just added to the book
5 – Coherent plot, no padding or tangents. A beautiful whole
1 – Like eating hot cheese - disgusting!.
2 – Reading through the pain barrier.
3 - It’s OK and had some good moments
4 - I'm Happy!.Clap along if you feel....
5. Almost instantly absorbed, wished the book wouldn’t end.
1.Forgotten even before the final page is read
2.Never thought of again unless specifically prompted
3.Plot outline and key details remembered
4.Large parts of the book easily remembered.
5.Never too far away from thoughts
1.Other people change the subject very quickly
2.Specific interest/Too involved for chat. Very few opportunities for book to be mentioned
3.Find myself looking for opportunities to discuss elements of the book
4.Book inevitably comes up on a fairly regular basis
5.The Harry Potter award.
1.Promised everything and delivered nothing
2.Never came close to matching expectation
3.I wasn’t expecting that
4.More or less got what I paid for
5.Did exactly what it said on the tin
1.Like a celebrity autobiography brought out just before Christmas. Out of date before it was released
2.Expert copies in charity bookstores before too long
3.Should be relevant for a few years
4.Never likely to be a classic but should be in print for a long time
5.Already a classic or in my opinion destined to be one
I am 43 and lucky to have a fantastic wife and 3 kids who give my life purpose and make it fun too. To pay the bills I am a Software Consultant and have been for the past (mostly enjoyable) 18 years.