One-Minute Book Reviews

March 14, 2007

‘He Greeted Me in His Briefs’ And More Hot Sex Scenes From the Luv Guv, James McGreevey … They’re Bad, But Are They Bad Enough to Win a Delete Key Award?

Filed under: Book Awards,Book Reviews,Books,Delete Key Awards,Memoirs,Politics,Reading,Writing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:23 am

“He greeted me in his briefs. ‘Did anybody see you?’ he asked, closing the door quickly.”

James McGreevey put plenty of red, white and purple prose like that in his The Confession, a memoir written with David France. But are those lines bad enough to win a 2007 Delete Key Award for the year’s worst writing in books? How about, “Our first few times burned so fiercely in my mind I could hardly recall them even as we were still lying together …”?

You have until the end of the day today to comment. The Delete Key Awards winner will be announced tomorrow, the March 15, because Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, and some of the finalists are trying to assasinate the English language. Here’s another question to consider: McGreevey’s editor, Judith Regan, has been ousted from HarperCollins since the publication of this memoir. Should we keep alive the memory of her contributions to the publishing industry by giving an award to one of her books?

For more hot sex from the Luv Guv, read the Jan. 27 post on One-Minute Book Reviews, “Who Writes Better Sex Scenes, Danielle Steel or James McGreevey?” (archived with the January posts). This post lists steamy lines written by both authors and lets you guess who wrote which. Check back later today for other highlights from the short list of the year’s worst writing in books. (Yes, Danielle Steel is a finalist, too.) Or see the 11 posts on Feb. 28, the short list and a separate post on each finalist. See the Feb. 27 post for questions and answers about the Delete Key Awards.

I would appreciate it if you would forward this post or others about the Delete Key Awards to anyone who might like to know about them, especially if you have friends in the media or at major Web sites, because for some reason, The New York Times has not seen fit to cover the Delete Key Awards the way it covers the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes. Cancel your subscriptions! And bookmark One-Minute Book Reviews to avoid missing the announcement of the winner, which will be posted before noon tomorrow.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 10, 2007

Bizarre But True: GWB Writes at a Higher Level Than Thomas Jefferson … An Exposé of the Writing Levels of U.S. Presidents

Filed under: Books,Memoirs,News,Politics,Reading,Writing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 7:41 pm

Who wrote at a higher level, Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln? Check the results of a One-Minute Book Reviews survey that calculated their grade levels using the spell-checker on Microsoft Word.

Need a reason to feel good about the direction our country is taking on Presidents’ Day? Try this: George W. Bush can write at a higher level than Thomas Jefferson.

Not long ago, I found that novelist Mitch Albom writes at a third-grade level when I typed part of For One More Day into my computer, then ran the Microsoft Word spell-checker (Nov. 16, 2006, One-Minute Book Reviews). When you do this, you see the Flesch-Kincaid grade level at the bottom of the column of numbers that appears on your screen.

So I wondered: Could any of our presidents write at a higher level than a No. 1 best-selling novelist? I used Microsoft Word to calculate the reading levels of the presidents’ books, if these were easily available, and their best-known speeches if not. Here are the results:

John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage Grade 12
Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid Grade 12
Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Four Freedoms” Speech Grade 11.2
Ronald Reagan, An American Life Grade 11.1
Dwight Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe Grade 11.1
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address Grade 10.9
George W. Bush, A Charge to Keep Grade 10.8
Bill Clinton, My Life Grade 8.2
Gerald Ford, A Time to Heal Grade 8.1
Lyndon B. Johnson “Why Are We in Vietnam?” Speech Grade 7.3
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams,
July 1, 1787 Grade 5.3

I entered 305 words from each book, beginning on page 24, for reasons explained in the review of For One More Day, archived in the “Novels” category on this blog: The first chapter of a book often doesn’t represent the whole. A typical book chapter has about 20 pages, so I started on page 24. And because a paragraph or two may not represent the whole, either, I entered 305 words, or more than a page, which usually has about 250–300 words. When I used a speech, I entered the whole speech.

This survey showed that George Bush wrote in A Charge to Keep – what, you’ve forgotten it already? — at a higher level than Thomas Jefferson did in a letter to Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams. Bush also wrote at higher level than Bill Clinton did in My Life and LBJ did in his “Why Are We in Vietnam?” speech at Johns Hopkins University. But Jefferson comes out ahead if you give him credit for writing the Declaration if Independence single-handledly. It’s written at the level of Grade 12.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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