Why Girls Are Weird By the Numbers

Amazon has added a brand new evil feature.

Now you can find out how many letters, words and characters are in the pages of Why Girls Are Weird. You can find out how many “complex words” I used (6%). You can find out what grade education is needed to understand the book (4.8). Sorry, third graders!

You can see the one hundred most common words used in the book (Number one: Know.) I always thought I overused the word “Just,” or that the number one word used in a book would be “I.” What else could you expect from the resident know-it-all Wonder Killer?

For the money-savers, you can find out how many words you’re getting to the dollar (9,437).

For the obsessive-compulsives, you can find out how many words to the sentence (10.1), or syllables to the word (1.4).

But the best stat is based on “statistically improbable phrases.”

If you liked Why Girls Are Weird, you’ll love:

More Junior High and Middle School TalkSheets–Updated!
by Mr. David Lynn
discusses “ask your group,” “have your group”

[That would be Anna and Smith talking about her high school group.]

Letters to Penthouse VI: Feel the Heat
by The Editors of Penthouse Magazine (Editor)
discusses “inch dick,” “suck your dick”

[That’s what I get for writing “I’d suck your dick for some air conditioning.”]

I’m looking for this feature on some of my favorite books. Catcher in the Rye escaped this horror. As did The Grapes of Wrath. These are books where someone might need to know the grade level. In the third grade my parents handed me Lord of the Flies. I still haven’t recovered.

Now, they broke down Good In Bed. Sadly the recommended books read like Buffalo Bill’s Amazon wish list. “Know” is a common word in Jennifer’s book, too (but “said” is her most popular.) Good In Bed has 8% complex words and reads all the way up at a sixth grade level. Combined with the fact that Jennifer’s giving you 11,983 words to the dollar, it quickly becomes clear how Good In Bed became a bestseller.

If you liked The Da Vinci Code, based on statistically improbable phrases, you’ll also love… more Da Vinci Code stuff.

Number one word: “Langdon.” Number two: Sophie. Number three: Seabing. That’s what I call character driven!

Holy cow. This book has 12% complex words, reads at a 7.2 grade level and offers 9,268 words to the dollar. (There are 138,738 words, which is why I see so many of you hauling this book on every airplane and beach this country has to offer.)

Animal Farm, another one of my favorites, reads at a freshman high school level (we were given it in the fifth grade…), has an impressive 11% stat of complex words, but only offers 4,215 words on the dollar. Sorry, Orwell!

The Bridges of Madison County reads at a 6.8 grade level, which shames me into wanting to write a much better book next time. But this book offers the low, low value of 3,696 words to the dollar. Rip off!

Let’s check out some fancy-pants literati authors.

Everything Is Illuminated: 6.2 grade level, 8% complex, 9,631 words to the dollar. That makes me feel better. But the statistically improbable recommendation is The Godfather, and while Penthouse Forum might have shared a drawer of your father’s nightstand with that book in the late 70’s, it’s just not the same thing.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius shares the number one word of “Know” with me. 8% complex, 6.6 grade level, 15,244 words to the dollar.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: 8.4 grade level, 10% complex, 21,751 words to the dollar. That’s how you know he’s a real writer.

Scalzi is kicking my ass. 6.4 grade level, 9% complex, but only 5,601 words to the dollar. Old Man’s War might be a better read than mine, but I give you a cheaper paperback binding.

He’s Just Not That Into You rips you off with its 2,562 words to the dollar. We share the 6% complex words stat. It’s still a more advanced reading level than mine with 6.2, but that’s probably because fourth graders shouldn’t do oral. And maybe a girl should wait until she’s at least in junior high before she realizes that most guys aren’t going to be that into her and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Ulysses reads at a sixth grade level, so I don’t know what everybody’s complaining about. It’s got 10% complex words and a whopping 22,653 words to the dollar. He used Know 258 times.

Once you start doing this, it’s very difficult to stop. And by you I mean me. I’m wondering the concordance and stats of the new book… how many times have I used the word “Know” so far? Let me go see…236. Right on track to be the next James Joyce. Fantastic news.

What is the purpose of these stats, other than driving writers insane about their own work? When does anyone need to know average syllables used per word? I know (see? there it is again) the rest of the day every sentence I type will look like: monosyllable-monosyllable, know, not complex enough, third grade.

I went to the store. I bought vegetables. Vegetables are good for you to eat. You should eat them every day. I like corn, peas, carrots, squash and potatoes. My store is down the street. We walk to it sometimes. I will watch television tonight, but it won’t be about vegetables. Do you know what vegetables you like to eat?

Oh, yeah. This is a great way to start the day. Thanks, Amazon.

High Fidelity also likes the word know. It reads at a sixth grade level.

When will I find a book back here with the fourth graders? My favorite, The Outsiders, didn’t have to suffer through this. Naked is way up in the eighth grade and Me Talk Pretty One Day moves all the way up to high school. The Stand is halfway through the fifth grade. Fahrenheit 451, fifth grade. Even ol’ Anne Heche has me beat (Amazon doesn’t offer statistically-improbable phrases on this book, most likely to keep the words “baby-sized pussy” off their website).

I have a feeling the answer is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. All signs point to this being the intellectual equal of my book’s sentence structure. Dammit! It’s seventh grade!

Oh, come on. The Letters to Penthouse, a book with cock as its number one word, is 7.1.

Maybe there isn’t anything as low as my book. I wrote the Hop On Pop of contemporary fiction. I’m the starter book to real books you might find later, real books like Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (fifth grade) and The Devil Wears Prada (5.9).

You guys. I found it. My literary equal. My partner in keyboard crime. Ethan Hawke.

It’s tempting to let that paragraph be the last thing I ever write.