1001 books to read

Topics: Fiction, Novel, Literature Pages: 2 (537 words) Published: May 27, 2014
Perhaps due to its obvious complexity of the prob-
lem, there has been little previous work that attempts
to build statistical models that predict the success of
literary works based on their intrinsic content and
quality. Some previous studies do touch on the no-
tion of stylistic aspects in successful literature, e.g.,
extensive studies in Literature discuss literary styles
of significant authors (e.g., Elleg˚ard (1962), Mc-
Gann (1998)), while others consider content char-
acteristics such as plots, characteristics of charac-
ters, action, emotion, genre, cast, of the best-selling
novels and blockbuster movies (e.g., Harvey (1953),
Hall (2012), Yun (2011)).
All these studies however, are qualitative in na-
ture, as they rely on the knowledge and insights of
human experts on literature. To our knowledge, no
prior work has undertaken a systematic quantitative
investigation on the overarching characterization of
the writing style in successful literature. In consid-
eration of widely different styles of authorship (e.g.,
Escalante et al. (2011), Peng et al. (2003), Argamon
et al. (2003)), it is not even readily clear whether
there might be common stylistic elements that help
discriminating highly successful ones from less suc-
cessful counterpart.
First, we tackle the hard task of predicting the suc-
cess of novels written by previously unseen authors,
avoiding incidental learning of authorship signature,
since previous research demonstrated that one can
achieve very high accuracy in authorship attribution
(as high as 96% in some experimental setup) (e.g.,
Raghavan et al. (2010), Feng et al. (2012)). Sec-
ond, we aim to discriminate highly successful nov-
els from less successful, but nonetheless published
books written by professional writers, which are un-
doubtedly of higher quality than average writings.
It is important to note that the task we tackle here
is much harder than discriminating highly success-
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