What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

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Vroomfundel
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What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Vroomfundel » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:49 pm UTC

Reading Every Book

At what point in human history were there too many (English) books to be able to read them all in one lifetime?


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Reading every book? Who the hell is interested in that. I'm only after reading every wikipedia article.
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Jackpot777 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:52 pm UTC

I just want to say: I love the attention to detail with Asimov's (or in this case, the Asimovs') sideburns.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby cellocgw » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:18 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:I just want to say: I love the attention to detail with Asimov's (or in this case, the Asimovs') sideburns.


Dunno 'bout that: I prefer the stuff he wrote prior to sideburnage.

Meanwhile, I feel bad enough that I can't even keep up with the flow of books I collect based on recommendations of people I trust, plus new authors I learn about from things like "Year's Best SF" anthologies. But that's partly my own fault for having a job instead of reading for 8 hrs/ day.

And finally, is anyone up for recalculating GLR's numbers if one were to read just the Cliff/Spark Notes versions? :mrgreen:
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:55 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Is anyone up for recalculating GLR's numbers if one were to read just the Cliff/Spark Notes versions? :mrgreen:

Hmm, let's see. I tried searching for "average length of cliff notes in comparison to original" but I just got results for "average penis length" so that's unhelpful.

Off the top of my head, a cliff notes pamphlet is typically about a quarter-inch thick. The books that a cliff notes pamphlet explains are anywhere from an inch to four inches, so let's take 2 inches as a predicted mean. If reading time and book thickness are roughly proportional, this means reading only cliffnotes gives you eight times the reading power you'd otherwise have. A few hundred authors becomes roughly a thousand authors, maybe a few times more.

Unfortunately, the graph from Seed magazine has a logarithmic left vertical axis, so it probably wouldn't have added more than a few centuries.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby rhomboidal » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:21 pm UTC

I'm still hoping to find a library which has switched the categorization of its collection from Fiction and Non-Fiction to Asimov and Non-Asimov.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:53 pm UTC

So, has anyone else yet tried the http://www.goodreads.com/book/random repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?

It took me
Spoiler:
175 tries to get to Prey by Michael Crichton.

Although, first of all, a good number of the results, maybe a fourth, were not in English, so I am not sure if they were admissible under the rules of the game. Also, #47 was 圣诞颂歌, the Chinese translation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which I have read many times in English. Not sure if that should count!

Other highlights from my search:
1. Mr. Brightly’s Evening Off by Kathleen Rowntree
2. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel
3. Encyclopedia Iranica v. 5 (CENTRAL,ASIA XIII – CESTIYA)
4. Re-Politicising the Kyoto School as Philosophy
5. Ranma ½, Vol. 29
10. Batman: Private Casebook
13. Momo by Michael Ende (Finnish translation)
27. Europe’s Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns, 1983
63. Bring Me To Life, by Evanescence (I didn't realize that this was a book, but I know the song!)
78. Michelin Map No. 411: Northern Germany
100. A Tale of Two Cities (Foundation Classic), by Pauline Francis (and Charles Dickens)
148. Astral Projection by Dick Sutphen
149. Monster Trucks by William G. Holder
154. Geometric Analysis on Symmetric Spaces (Mathematical Surveys and Monographs), by Sigurdur Helgason

[Edit: fixed link]

rhomboidal wrote:I'm still hoping to find a library which has switched the categorization of its collection from Fiction and Non-Fiction to Asimov and Non-Asimov.


Yes, but how would you classify Foundation? You can't prove it won't happen.
Last edited by mathmannix on Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:54 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Wnderer » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:10 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the [url]goodreads.com/book/random[/url] repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?

It took me
[spoiler]175 tries to get to Prey by Michael Crichton.


It took me 3 tries to get the Iliad by Homer. What do I win? :mrgreen:

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby keithl » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:42 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the [url]goodreads.com/book/random[/url] repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read? It took me 175 tries to get to Prey by Michael Crichton.

Interesting test. In 100 tries, I found 3 fiction books I have read:
    Catcher in the Rye - Salinger
    Darkfall - Koontz
    To Crush the Moon - McCarthy
And one honorable mention, "The Dragon With the Girl Tattoo", whose title is a variant of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Larsson, which I read two weeks ago. About 90% of my reading is nonfiction, much is technical or scientific (Martin Walt's "Introduction to Geomagnetically Trapped Radiation" is the current project), so I was surprised I did not encounter any scientific books in my sampling. I did see three or four interesting non-scientific non-fiction books I would read if nothing more interesting was at hand.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Zanmor » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:48 pm UTC

Though he certainly read many works that weren't in English (maybe even most were in Latin), John Milton is one of the last people who was in a position to and likely did read every important piece of literature available at the time. So if you want to modify the question a bit, allowing for discrepancies in what's considered important (as there'd be a lot more "important" stuff written in Greek or Latin than in English at the time) then your answer is sometime in the 1600s, not too much later than what's proposed here.

Also as of 100 hits on goodreads.com/book/random I have yet to get something I've read and about a quarter were not in English.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby keithl » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:09 pm UTC

I have many Asimov books. However, the most prolific author in my collection is Lionel Fanthorpe; I have precisely one book by him, the smallest fraction of total output of any author on my shelves.

Lionel Fanthorpe wrote pulp fiction under many pseudonyms for Badger and other British paperback publishers, sometimes banging out one book in a weekend (he had a regular job during the week). He made extensive use of his thesaurus, never using one adjective where twelve would do.

I met him at a charity auction, where I made the winning bid ($60 IIRC) for a copy of "Galaxy 666" (Pel Torro pseudonym). Typical paragraph, describing a rock picked up by an astronaut:
Greyness was the dominant background shade; neither black no white, but something midway between the two. It was a light rather than a dark grey, yet it could never have been so light that it might have been mistaken for an off white.

Lionel inscribed the book to me "with many thanks for bidding more than I got paid for writing it. Some rocks are pink, some rocks are grey, I could describe them Twelve hours a day!"

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:13 pm UTC

Zanmor wrote:John Milton is one of the last people who was in a position to and likely did read every important piece of literature available at the time.

Of English literature you mean.

I think that's not at all likely. Milton probably did not spend 16 hours a day reading, and anyway as you say most of his reading was in other languages, further limiting his English readin gtime. And anyway, he would have had no way to track down and obtain every significant English volume out there, or even to find a way to enumerate them all. If there were at least a reading list, he could try to find all on the list, but without that there is no way he could avoid letting thousands of books slip through the cracks.

I'm sure Milton was extremely well-read, but probably not like you think.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Temporarily9 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:07 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the -snip- repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?


Very first try, I got "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Read it a long time ago. Do I win?

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:47 pm UTC

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And so do I!
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Bossi » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:36 am UTC

Image

I may have stared at this longer than one should normally stare at this image, convinced that one of them, somewhere, is different... just a little... just, maybe, if I could see that slight flinch in a sea of blank stares. I may still be watching it. It's there, I know it is.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Zanmor » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:52 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
Zanmor wrote:John Milton is one of the last people who was in a position to and likely did read every important piece of literature available at the time.

Of English literature you mean.

I think that's not at all likely. Milton probably did not spend 16 hours a day reading, and anyway as you say most of his reading was in other languages, further limiting his English readin gtime. And anyway, he would have had no way to track down and obtain every significant English volume out there, or even to find a way to enumerate them all. If there were at least a reading list, he could try to find all on the list, but without that there is no way he could avoid letting thousands of books slip through the cracks.

I'm sure Milton was extremely well-read, but probably not like you think.

I clarified I did not just mean English literature, which was still very much in its infancy at the time. Milton was one of the best read people ever, and yes, he did spend an incredible amount of his time reading. He also kept a list of what he read, so you could probably check his list as compared to what was around at the time. And again, significance is important. Of course he didn't read everything, but as I said, it is not unreasonable to think he read everything important that was available. And this isn't just my thinking, this is an idea that at least a few Milton scholars find probable.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Mutex » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:40 am UTC

I tried the random link and got "The Woman's Devotional Bible" by Anonymous. So that's what they get up to when they aren't DDoSing people.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby ps.02 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:34 pm UTC

Randall wrote:Since To Kill a Mockingbird is her only published book, her lifetime average is 0.002 words per minute, or about three words per day.

Or in Verizon terms, 0.2 words per minute.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Klear » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:02 pm UTC

I'm surprised that there was no mention of Kerouac. He wrote On the Road in three weeks, which gets him an average of 5537 words per day. Unless Randall groups him with "some pulp writers".

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:06 pm UTC

Zanmor wrote:I clarified I did not just mean English literature, which was still very much in its infancy at the time. Milton was one of the best read people ever, and yes, he did spend an incredible amount of his time reading.

So if you didn't "just" mean English literature, what did you mean? All Latin and Classical Greek literature too? Which were written over the course of 2000 years by many of the largest and most prolific civilizations in history?

I understand not all of classical literature was "available" in John Milton's time, but I think you are lacking a sense of proportion here.

Of course he didn't read everything, but as I said, it is not unreasonable to think he read everything important that was available. And this isn't just my thinking, this is an idea that at least a few Milton scholars find probable.

If you define "important" as "worthy of Milton's reading," then this is true, but there were a great many books of consequence that are not on Milton's list.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Klear » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:11 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
Zanmor wrote:I clarified I did not just mean English literature, which was still very much in its infancy at the time. Milton was one of the best read people ever, and yes, he did spend an incredible amount of his time reading.

So if you didn't "just" mean English literature, what did you mean? All Latin and Classical Greek literature too? Which were written over the course of 2000 years by many of the largest and most prolific civilizations in history?

I understand not all of classical literature was "available" in John Milton's time, but I think you are lacking a sense of proportion here.

Of course he didn't read everything, but as I said, it is not unreasonable to think he read everything important that was available. And this isn't just my thinking, this is an idea that at least a few Milton scholars find probable.

If you define "important" as "worthy of Milton's reading," then this is true, but there were a great many books of consequence that are not on Milton's list.


Well, he did wrote "everything that was available". A very big portion of this "classical literature" has been lost or simply beyond Milton's reach.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby omgryebread » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:26 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the [url]goodreads.com/book/random[/url] repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?

It took me
Spoiler:
175 tries to get to Prey by Michael Crichton.

Although, first of all, a good number of the results, maybe a fourth, were not in English, so I am not sure if they were admissible under the rules of the game. Also, #47 was 圣诞颂歌, the Chinese translation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which I have read many times in English. Not sure if that should count!

Other highlights from my search:
1. Mr. Brightly’s Evening Off by Kathleen Rowntree
2. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel
3. Encyclopedia Iranica v. 5 (CENTRAL,ASIA XIII – CESTIYA)
4. Re-Politicising the Kyoto School as Philosophy
5. Ranma ½, Vol. 29
10. Batman: Private Casebook
13. Momo by Michael Ende (Finnish translation)
27. Europe’s Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns, 1983
63. Bring Me To Life, by Evanescence (I didn't realize that this was a book, but I know the song!)
78. Michelin Map No. 411: Northern Germany
100. A Tale of Two Cities (Foundation Classic), by Pauline Francis (and Charles Dickens)
148. Astral Projection by Dick Sutphen
149. Monster Trucks by William G. Holder
154. Geometric Analysis on Symmetric Spaces (Mathematical Surveys and Monographs), by Sigurdur Helgason

rhomboidal wrote:I'm still hoping to find a library which has switched the categorization of its collection from Fiction and Non-Fiction to Asimov and Non-Asimov.


Yes, but how would you classify Foundation? You can't prove it won't happen.
247, and then it might not count, as it was a Spanish translation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I've read in English. I gave up at 323, which was Sket Dance Volume #19, of which I've read a translation.

My 14th click was Baltasar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago, which my father read to me when I was 12 or so.
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby january1may » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:30 pm UTC

From my experience on SamLib, a typical modern Russian sci-fi author would write a 200,000-word novel in about half a year (then use the other half to write a sequel to it). This is roughly on the order of just under 1 wpm.
The average speed expected on NaNoWriMo is approximately 1.2 wpm. The average speed of a writer who does NaNoWriMo every year but doesn't write anything elsenote is thus 0.1 wpm (which, judging by figures in the rest of this WI, is probably pretty respectable).

...I wonder whether the posting speed at the XKCD forums had already gone high enough that one couldn't possibly catch up to it anymore. I did make just such a calculation for several other sites and forums I frequent, but the results pretty often were ambiguous (I have no idea what is the typical length of a post is, and thus whether it is possible or not to read, say, five or ten such typical posts per minute); and it appears that XKCD would fall in this very gap (unless we can tell the typical post size at least within a factor of two, the only thing we can calculate is that there's not too few posts that they obviously can all be read, but not too much that they obviously can't).


notetheoretically assuming that it had existed for every year of their writing career; IOTL, of course, it hadn't been around that long yet
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Klear » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:35 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:247, and then it might not count, as it was a Spanish translation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I've read in English. I gave up at 323, which was Sket Dance Volume #19, of which I've read a translation.

My 14th click was Baltasar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago, which my father read to me when I was 12 or so.


I think translations should count. Might get a bit more difficult for us whose first language isn't English. Anyway, I got a Sherlock Holmes in French as number 46, a story happened to read in English.

Edit: And Jurassic Park as number 56, though I read that one in Czech...

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:07 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:
Zanmor wrote:I clarified I did not just mean English literature, which was still very much in its infancy at the time. Milton was one of the best read people ever, and yes, he did spend an incredible amount of his time reading.

So if you didn't "just" mean English literature, what did you mean? All Latin and Classical Greek literature too? Which were written over the course of 2000 years by many of the largest and most prolific civilizations in history?

I understand not all of classical literature was "available" in John Milton's time, but I think you are lacking a sense of proportion here.

Of course he didn't read everything, but as I said, it is not unreasonable to think he read everything important that was available. And this isn't just my thinking, this is an idea that at least a few Milton scholars find probable.

If you define "important" as "worthy of Milton's reading," then this is true, but there were a great many books of consequence that are not on Milton's list.


Well, he did wrote "everything that was available". A very big portion of this "classical literature" has been lost or simply beyond Milton's reach.

I acknowledged that in my post.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Klear » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:16 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
Klear wrote:Well, he did wrote "everything that was available". A very big portion of this "classical literature" has been lost or simply beyond Milton's reach.

I acknowledged that in my post.


Kinda, but it seems to me that you are underestimating the amount of such literature that has survived. And in Milton's time the situation was likely much worse.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Mambrino » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:03 am UTC

Klear wrote:
omgryebread wrote:247, and then it might not count, as it was a Spanish translation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I've read in English. I gave up at 323, which was Sket Dance Volume #19, of which I've read a translation.

My 14th click was Baltasar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago, which my father read to me when I was 12 or so.


I think translations should count. Might get a bit more difficult for us whose first language isn't English. Anyway, I got a Sherlock Holmes in French as number 46, a story happened to read in English.

Edit: And Jurassic Park as number 56, though I read that one in Czech...


Let's see. My number: 71, which included (amongst others) the following titles of note:

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford
A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California by Laura Cunningham
A Month-To-Month Guide: Fourth-Grade Math by Lainie Schuster, Toby Gordon (Editor)
Total Solar Eclipses and How to Observe Them (Astronomer's Observing Guides) by Martin Mobberley
Psikoanalisis (A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis) by Sigmund Freud
German Unification & EC Integration by Barbara Lippert
Oedipe roi (The Theban Plays #1) by Sophocles (at this point (no 12) I started to regret that I wasn't lucky enough to get classical upbringing)
The Lost Treasure of Trevlyn: A Story of the Days of the Gunpowder Plot by Evelyn Everett-Green
zakyaltutujyuuiti (Japanese Edition) by Date Yuji (this was no 15. the cover has a picture of cat. would pick up in bookstore because of the cat, just to look at it)
Poirot løser gåten (Hercule Poirot #38 by Agatha Christie, Christian Borch (Translator) (no 20. wasn't sure whether to count this, as I have read the Finnish translation; however I can't Danish/Norwegian (not sure which one this was), so decided against it)
The student's guide to the best summer jobs in Alaska by Paul Groves (21. must be very useful book to have around)
Abaft the Funnel by Rudyard Kipling
Die Liquidatoren: Der Reichskommissar Und Das Wiedergewonnene Vaterland by Ralph Hartmann (first one ine German! I don't speak German)
Planning for Retirement Needs by Kenn Beam Tacchino David A. Littell, Littell, David A. Littell, David A.
How to Love a Black Man by Ronn Elmore
Cowansville High School Misremembered by Linda Seccaspina, The Students Of Cowansville High (Contributor)
Corduroy StoryTape: StoryTape (Corduroy) by Don Freeman (no. 37. a story tape?)
Things to Know Before Buying a Bicycle by Joanne Fink
Vom Winde verweht / Gone with the Wind (Gone with the Wind #1) by Margaret Mitchell
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by Karl Marx (no. 46. starting to lose hope... I would have read the Communist Manifesto)
Les précieuses ridicules: Comédie en un acte by Molière (no 48. Mr Goodreads R. Generator must be mocking me. Why not The Misanthrope? Why not Tartuffe? The Miser? Those I have read. This is a disgrace.)
Bulbasaur's Bad Day by Bill Michaels ([blurb]Bulbasaur, the Grass Pokemon, is trapped inside a pit that Meowth has dug to capture Pokemon! When Team Rocket shows up, it's up to Bulbasaur to defend itself from inside the pit. Can Bulbasaur outwit Team Rocket in time?[/blurb] I am a Bulbasaur in a pit, too. Everybody is a Bulbasaur in a pit. This is number 55.)
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Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci by Burton D. Fisher (70. I said, wait for it...)


The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov

:shock: :lol: :mrgreen:

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby madaco » Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:05 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the [url]goodreads.com/book/random[/url] repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?

It took me
Spoiler:

rhomboidal wrote:I'm still hoping to find a library which has switched the categorization of its collection from Fiction and Non-Fiction to Asimov and Non-Asimov.


Yes, but how would you classify Foundation? You can't prove it won't happen.


As Asimov?
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby zae » Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:59 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the [url]goodreads.com/book/random[/url] repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?


40 tries to reach Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Encountered on the way:
Death Quest (Mission Earth #6) by L. Ron Hubbard
The Jonson Allusion-Book: A Collection of Allusions to Ben Jonson from 1597-1700 by Jesse Franklin Bradley
Unknown Book 9750171 by Unknown Author 50
Artificial Neural Networks for Civil Engineers: Fundamentals and Applications by Nabil Kartam (Editor)
Effective Federal Tax Rates, 1979-1997 by Dan L. Crippen, Ed Harris
At the Altar in Your Underwear: 40 Secrets to an Amazing Wedding and a Better You by Alexis Asbe
How to Make Money Blogging - Earning Your First $1000 Online by Nick S. Buchanan
Awesome Animal Trivia by Lucy Rauker
/insanitē/: Bipolar Poetry by S. Boccaccio
Marx, Engels Und Die Teilung Der Arbeit - Ein Einf Hrendes Lesebuch in Gesellschaftstheorie Und Geschichte by Lars Hennings

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:50 pm UTC

madaco wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Yes, but how would you classify Foundation? You can't prove it won't happen.

As Asimov?

[facepalm]

... I apparently thought "fiction" was being replaced by "Asimov". :oops:
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby JeffR23 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:18 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:So, has anyone else yet tried the http://www.goodreads.com/book/random repeatedly to see how many tries it takes to get a book you have read?


72 here, eventually landing on The Scarlet Letter.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby eran_rathan » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:33 pm UTC

24 for me, The Velveteen Rabbit.
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Biliboy » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:51 pm UTC

I just appreciate the love for Asimov. I grew up (in the '80s) on Asimov and other 'golden age' sf authors, and he's still the author that I have the best feel for as an actual person, based mostly on his forewords. "Cheerful self-appreciation" is still in my vocabulary. I just wish more of his books were still on bookshelves at the used paperbacks stores I frequent. Out of 400+ books I rarely see anything but the Foundation series or something from I, Robot or the sequels, and many of his short stories in various old anthologies.


Oh, and that ubiquitous 'Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain" that seems to be everywhere.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby lgw » Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:34 am UTC

Ha, 8 for me "USMC Manual - Marine Commander's Tactical Handbook". I've never been in the military, but I read a lot of "field manual" style books when researching for some RPG I was writing.

ETA: I love Asimov's writing, but he was a notorious letch (and proud of it! :) ) With 400 Asimovs, well, SF conventions would be interesting, to be sure.
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:38 pm UTC

lgw wrote:I love Asimov's writing, but he was a notorious letch (and proud of it! :) ) With 400 Asimovs, well, SF conventions would be interesting, to be sure.


Pretty sure that was a requirement those days (minus some of the Grande Dames, of course, though certainly not all of them).
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Xantix » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:08 am UTC

I got to about 250 before finding "Romeo and Juliet" which I read in school. Although, I can't confirm that it was the same version, especially since Shakespeare very often modified his plays.

Although, at about number 190, I got a particular issue of "Astounding Science Fiction", so although I didn't read that issue, I have very likely read at least one of those short stories before.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby mekily » Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:05 am UTC

eran_rathan wrote:24 for me, The Velveteen Rabbit.


...It was The Velveteen Rabbit for me, too. Wild. 64 tries in my case.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Envelope Generator » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:37 am UTC

The 259th random book I got was named Wasting Time and I took the hint. I didn't get a single book that I'm sure I've finished; #67 may have been a garbled entry of the Iliad, #44 was Augustine's Confessions which I was going to pick up today when I get off work and #181 was a facsimile of the first edition of Don Quixote, a book I apparently love starting to read.

The best titles I ran into were "Why Did the Osprey Poop on My Head?" and "Lesbian Configurations".
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby etothepii » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:23 pm UTC

The UK television programme QI recently claimed that the first person to be able to read without vocalizing the words did not occur until the 5th Century AD. Given this limitation (which I understand substantially reduces reading speed) is it possible that the point at which it was no longer possible to read all books may have occurred earlier than Randall's 15th Century calculation.

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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:03 pm UTC

etothepii wrote:The UK television programme QI recently claimed that the first person to be able to read without vocalizing the words did not occur until the 5th Century AD.

How is that supposed to have worked? Were humans somehow anatomically incapable of imagining sounds without producing them before then, or did it just never occur to anyone to try it?
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Re: What-If 0076: "Reading Every Book"

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:27 am UTC

That's not exactly the claim they made. There was a monk (whose name escapes me) who was described as being able to read without moving his lips at all, which was considered unusual. That doesn't mean it was unique among all people, nor does it mean that people who moved their lips typically vocalized every word. However it does suggest that most scholars of the time read much more slowly than they do today.


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