I don’t subscribe to the magazine Gentlemen’s’ Quarterly so I never actually read the publication but one news story really caught my attention.  GQ has published an article entitled “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read”.  To their credit, they do indicate what books would be preferable for each of the twenty-one removed from the “reading list”.  Let’s take a look:

  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Ambassadors by Henry James
  • The Bible
  • Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Life by Keith Richards
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

I was really surprised to see the Bible on the list even though this is a “progressive” magazine.  Here is the logic behind removing it and basically indicating it is of no use to “modern man”.

The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned. If the thing you heard was good about the Bible was the nasty bits, then I propose Agota Kristof’s The Notebook, a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough. The subtlety and cruelty of this story is like that famous sword stroke (from below the boat) that plunged upward through the bowels, the lungs, and the throat and into the brain of the rower. —Jesse Ball, ‘Census’

This is one man’s opinion but certainly not mine. Eric Metaxas and G. Shane Morris of Breakpoint.org state the following relative to the GQ article: “Seldom have I seen an example of the blind leading the blind as blatant as this article.  Condemned were such classics as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and the “Lord of the Rings”.  The magazine’s editors describe these beloved titles variously as racist, sexist and just really, really boring. “

The average number of books each person reads on a yearly basis is twelve (12)…but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. The most frequently reported number was four (4) books per year. Of course, there’s plenty of variation among demographics. Certain groups read more, or less, than the country as a whole. Here’s what the data showed:

Educated, affluent women read the most.

Women tend to read more than men. About seventy-seven (77) percent of American women read at least one book in 2015, compared with sixty-seven (67) percent of American guys. Also, the average woman reads fourteen (14) books in a twelve-month span, while the average man read only nine.  Across both genders, readership also went up with education and income. About ninety (90) percent of college grads read at least one book a year, compared to thirty-four (34) percent of people who haven’t finished high school. Also, the more money they earned, the likelier they were to be readers. It’s hard to say whether education and income are causes of this trend, since people who go to college probably grow up reading more anyway, and income correlates with education. But the bottom line is that educated, high-earning women sit atop the reading pyramid in America.

Older people read less.

One notable aspect of the data is that people tend to read less as they age. Fully eighty (80) percent of 18–29-year-olds reported reading at least one book, compared to sixty-nine (69) percent of seniors sixty-five and older.

I was told years ago—ALWAYS READ THE GOOD BOOKS FIRST.  The classics and those authors that can really “pack a punch”.  There are several great books not on the list.  The twelve novels considered to be the greatest novels ever written are:

  • Anna Karenina
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Great Gatsby
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • A Passage to India
  • Invisible Man
  • Don Quixote
  • Beloved
  • Dalloway
  • Things Fall Apart
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Color Purple 

I’m really happy GQ has given us permission to read the twelve books considered to be the best ever written.  Give me hope in the future 😊

As always, please give me your opinion.

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Mom and Dad taught us how to read so why have I not heard about, until now, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Index?  I suppose better late than never.  Let’s take a look.

Rudolph Flesch, an author, writing consultant, and the supporter of Plain English Movement, is the co-author of this formula along with John P. Kincaid, thus the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Test. Raised in Austria, Flesch studied law and earned a Ph.D. in English from the Columbia University. Flesch, through his writings and speeches, advocated a return to phonics. In his article, A New Readability Yardstick, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1948, Flesch proposed the Reading Ease Readability Formula.

In the mid-seventies, the US Navy was looking for a method to measure the difficulty of technical manuals and documents used by Navy personnel.  These manuals were used for training on hardware and software installed on ships and land-based equipment.  Test results are not immediately meaningful and to make sense of the score requires the aid of a conversion table. So, the Flesch Reading Ease test was revisited and, along with other readability tests, the formula was amended to be more suitable for use in the Navy. The new calculation was the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (1975).  The methodology is given as follows:

Grade level classifications are based on the attainment of participants in the norming group on which the test was given.  The grade represents norming group participants’ typical score. So, if a piece of text has a grade level readability score of six (6), this is equivalent in difficulty to the average reading level of the norming group who were at grade six (6 ) when they took the test. This test rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

The actual formula and classification of the individual grades may be seen below:

Now, with that out of the way, President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover. 

 

I want to come to President Trump’s defense, somewhat, as an employee at General Electric, we were told to write our Use and Care Manuals at a fifth (5th) grade level AND use plenty of pictures—plenty of pictures.  This President will probably never win an award for public speaking, and he communicates in a rather unique manner:  He does get his point across.

The very painful fact is that we have basically slaughtered the “King’s English” and our presidents are playing to a much less sophisticated audience than ever before.  The following chart will explain.

Sad—very sad.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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