Try Books! read in 2013

Median Best Worst
Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont 9 6
A Month in the Country 8.5 3
The hare with amber eyes 8.25 1 1
Things Fall Apart 8.25 2 1
The Dark Room: A Novel 8
Dubliners 7 1 1
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 7
The Garden of Evening Mists 6.75 1
Beyond Black 6.25 1 2
These is My Words 6 1
A Long Way Down 6 1
Hunger 4 5

The table shows the books read by Try Books! in 2013 and their median scores, along with the number of times someone gave it their highest or lowest rating for the year (remember ties!)  Previous analysis indicates that the median is a good enough indicator for our purposes.

Elizabeth Taylor, novelist (1912-1975)

Elizabeth Taylor, novelist (1912-1975)

Elizabeth Taylor and Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont are the clear winners here, while Knut Hamsun and Hunger were rather less successful.

Hunger Other
Palfrey Ali, Judy, Suzannah Howard, Stephanie
Other Christine, Linda Aruni, Dick, Jo, Jocelyn

The table above classifies people according to whether  Mrs Palfrey and Hunger were indeed their best and worst books respectively. As ever, this was complicated by not everyone having read (scored) every book, but Ali, Judy and Suzannah seem to be safely established as representatives of mainstream opinion.

It might be that the books which appear in both ‘Best’ and ‘Worst’ categories are good for provoking discussion, but in quite a few cases the dissenting opinion was actually submitted by email, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was very fruitful in provoking discussion, which you would hardly glean from the table.

Comparing this with the previous results suggests that the most popular books are those that people will engage with simply because they deal with human experience, even though as in If This Is A Man  they don’t have to be fiction, while genre fiction (These Is My Words) and high-concept productions (A Long Way Down) don’t do very well.

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2 Responses to “Try Books! read in 2013”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Oh my godfathers, is that what Elizabeth Taylor looked like? I remember really really liking her in about the mid ’80s or ’90s, when I used to read books, and when I also used to like Katherine Mansfield. I have got as far as getting Things Fall Apart out of the library, following our centenary get together, but have renewed it a couple of times and not opened it yet. Am still just reading the paper and the London Review of Books. Have also read most of the Alice Munroe book I got for my birthday (or possibly last Christmas) but am finding it pretty depressing.

    Mind you, I do know large chunks of various children’s books off by heart – Tiddler is my favourite Julia Donaldson, and Cockatoos and the Mrs Armitage ones are my favourite Quentin Blakes. There’s one called ‘The Bear Snores On’ that’s got such a great rhythm to read aloud. And I’ve brought some of my own childhood books down from my dad’s loft, and am currently reading the lovely Five Dolls In a House by Helen Clare to my 10-year-old. They’re at such a slower pace than the new stuff she reads, but she is enjoying it.

    Have a lovely Christmas and New Year everyone past and present in the book group (particularly Howard, Candida, Jos and Dave – good to see you in the summer – and anyone else who used to attend about 7-10 years ago.)


  2. notesofanidealist Says:


    Thanks for your comment–it must be #100 on this blog, to go with the centenary get together…

    That was the most glammed-up photo of (this) Elizabeth Taylor I found on the Internet, so may not be representative–incidentally, she was a keen *amateur* actress as a young woman and indeed met her husband that way.

    As for the other books, AMITC is pleasingly short and may be compatible with childcare duties…

    We’ll hope to see you again some time in the coming decade!


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