11.27.2006

I like Mitch Albom a lot...but those books of his...yeesh

This is utterly and completely hysterical.

I actually loved Janice Harayda's The Accidental Bride. I forgot how funny she was until I found her blog (thanks to this)

22 comments:

Chaz said...

My novel has a Flesch-Kinkaid level of 9.7—take that Stephen King!

Great and hilarious article.

ORION said...

You know, I may have to disagree here. I don't think reading level is any indication of quality.
Simple words and short sentences can carry complexity of thought.
Higher reading levels can indicate obscure text and that fatal flaw of using words with three syllables when one will do.
I am a fan of Dr. Suess.
There is depth there.
JMHO

Anonymous said...

I'm with Orion, here. How does Hemingway rate? Anyone have the time to find out?

Justin said...

Ah, crap...

I was hoping to prove that the rating was utter nonsense by ringing by MSc thesis through word... it came out a 12.0

Sadly, most of my published shorts come out around 5th grade... great. It was a great article but do we really assess the complexity of prose based on syllables?

If it makes anyone feel any better, I ran a few of her Snark'ness's posts through the grade and it came out a 5.8!

Which is still higher than anything I have ever had published short of my thesis and let's face it... Academia is just another form of vanity publishing, right?

Gah!

Virginia Miss said...

I agree with Orion. We shouldn't give Microsoft's formula too much credit here. I mean, do you trust WORD's grammar check?

Dialogue-heavy works will get a lower readability, because in contemporary dialgue words, sentences, and paragraphs tend to be short. Narrative-heavy texts rate higher levels but can be a yawn to wade through.

Malia said...

My Flesch-Kincaid ranges from a 6.9 to an 8.0. Seeing as the average person reads at a 6th grade level and I write for the average person ;) -- I'm doing okay. Thank Dog I beat out Danielle, though. I have issues with that woman. :)

inherwritemind1 said...

That Mitch Albom writes at a grade level of 3.4 confirms my suspicions.

Anonymous said...

What reading level is WHERE'S WALDO?... sold millions!

Haste yee back

M. G. Tarquini said...

No way I'll admit in public what my scores were.

No. Way.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a kindred soul. Tuesdays with Morrie is tops on my list of "worst-best-sellers." He should have stuck to sports, which is his background. The book went nowhere and said all it had to say in chapter one. The rest was cloying.
Needless to say, I never gave him another chance.

bebe said...

I'm in children's books and we do use the F-K level for some kinds of books--not picture books, though. I'm not at all surprised that the Emily Arnold McCully book came out significantly higher than most chapter books. That's as it should be.

If I were Janice, I wouldn't put too much stock in the fact that her review came out to a 9.5. It's mostly proper names. Hell, just having the words "Flesch-Kincaid" in a piece that short would really bump up your Flesch-Kincaid rating, let alone Ephron, Kuczynski, etc. In children's, we have trouble keeping non-fiction at a low enough level for this very reason.

Also, I think you'd need to put at least ten pages of a book through to get anything close to an accurate rating. And I've seen the same piece come out very differently on different computers. And a higher rating could also indicate more grammatical mistakes, non-words, passive sentences, fragments, etc.

I agree with others that it doesn't necessarily say anything about an adult novel. I'm a fan of Hemingway, and generally a fan of short, declarative sentences. Then again, I'm in children's books, and haven't read anything by Albom, so there you go.

archer said...

It's a compliment to a writer if any third-grader can understand him.

srchamberlain said...

I think we're all missing the point here: Mitch Albom's books are a sentimental slush of banal, non-specific 'spirituality' and shopworn sentiments about the wisdom of the elderly, perfectly calculated to appeal to the sort of people who get comfort from refrigerator-magnet aphorisms and Thomas Kinkade paintings. It doesn't matter one bit what Microsoft Word says about it, although I'd count myself surprised if the books WERE found to have a high reading level, given their target audience.

There. I said it.

Someone will inevitably say in reply that Mitch Albom is laughing all of the way to the bank. Perhaps, but one hopes that the five people he meets in heaven will berate him for inflicting his particular brand of warmed over cliche on the world. Or, barring that, that he loses the ability to look in the mirror at the end of the day and compliment himself on a job well done.

ello said...

I ran random sections of James Joyce, George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Tolstoy (all through project gutenberg on line so I didn't have to retype) and they ranged in score from 3 to 5 tops on grade level. Perhaps a lower reading grade is not a bad thing.

Ryan Field said...

Mitch Ablom: He's selling books and that's all that matters. If he gets people to read, in a society that actually paid people to make the film YOU ME AND DUPREE, God bless him.

Anonymous said...

If the KJV Lord's Prayer is written on a third grade reading level, then why are "progressive" Christians STILL insisting on dumbing down the liturgy?

Anonymous said...

Harayda's article is hillarious. Measuring literary quality on the Flesch-Kincaid scale, of course, is all BS. Clearly. But it was a fun read. Hemingway's "The Killers," in my mind one of his most masterful stories, rates 1.9 on the scale. How about that...

Chaz said...

So this time I ran each of my chapters through the program. The highest is a 12.0, the lowest is 8.3, and most hover around 10. Does anyone think it would be a problem to read a 12 chapter and then an 8 chapter one after another? Would you think I was on some kind of drug when I wrote either of them?

randomsome1 said...

Dear Dog, Mitch Albom. At least I'm seeing other people joining in the mockery here.

Tuesdays with Morrie was a required read for my freshman year of college. I couldn't get into it and eventually came to hate it. When the ARC of For One More Day came into my hands, I decided to give him another shot to see what made his stuff so successful. Short sentences, short chapters, it was an overall easy read--but my suspension of disbelief was dead by twenty pages in, the character description was basically nonexistant, and it quickly degenerated into disjointed drivel. He's now two for two on my list of "books I couldn't force myself to finish."

But like people are saying in the above comments, there's still weirdos who like Danielle Steele and Thomas Kinkade--who, btw, now has warnings on the back of his calendars saying that the removal and reuse of the pages is "strictly prohibited." He's gonna send the calendar police to your house, y'all.

Anonymous said...

My background is in journalism. Newspapers are targeted to a third grade reading level, and IIRC, that's Albom's background as well. Since his audience doesn't seem to be the literary elite, I don't see the problem with a third grade result.

Misslisslee

Chumplet said...

Well, I ran three pages through, and I'm somewhere above Danielle Steel (Thank Dog) and below Stephen King. Fragmented sentences included.

Anonymous said...

You can feel confident that Mitch Albom will never lose the ability to look in a mirror and compliment himself.

This is anonymous only because I don't understand how to be an Other and I'm not interesting enough to be a Blogger, even though I do know Mitch.