Friday, August 7, 2015

OBDG’s 500th Post

An anniversary of sorts
Since its debut in January 2012, Old Books by Dead Guys has posted 499 reviews. Here at #500, we stop and smell the roses by taking an overview of how we got here. This is a good opportunity for readers to take a look back at some of the reviews you might have missed. Consider this a cheat sheet of the last three and a half years. Click on the numerous links below to read more.

Top Ten Most Reviewed Authors
Anyone who follows the blog or the Facebook page will recognize these usual suspects.


1. Jack London (71 reviews)
Best books include The Iron Heel, The Call of the Wild, Martin Eden, Before Adam, The Faith of Men, Moon-FaceThe Road, John Barleycorn

2. Emile Zola (39 reviews)
Best books include Germinal, La Terre, Pot-Bouille, The Debacle, L’Assomoir

3. Honoré de Balzac (29 reviews)
Best books include Père Goriot, Lost Illusions, Farewell, The Hidden Masterpiece

4. Frank Norris (18 reviews)
Best books include The Octopus, McTeague, The Third Circle, The Pit, Moran of the Lady Letty

5. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (16 reviews)
Best books include A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Great Shadow, The Captain of the Polestar, The Doings of Raffles Haw

6. H. Beam Piper (14 reviews)
Best books include Police Operation, Genesis, Flight from Tomorrow, The Edge of the Knife

7. Upton Sinclair (12 reviews)
Best books include The Jungle, 100%: The Story of a Patriot, the Lanny Budd series

8. Henryk Sienkiewicz (11 reviews)
Best books include With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, Pan Michael, Quo Vadis

9. Alexandre Dumas (10 reviews)
Best books include The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After; also the biography The Black Count

10 (tie). Georges Simenon (8 reviews)
Best books include Maigret and the Killer, A Man’s Head, Maigret and the Fortuneteller, Tropic Moon

10 (tie). James Fenimore Cooper (8 reviews)
Best books include The Last of the Mohicans, The Pioneers, Wyandotté


Top Ten Most Reviewed Nations
Consider this the Olympics of OBDG! Although in this case the USA dominates the medal count, Old Books by Dead Guys firmly believes that all nations create great literature (it’s just harder to find some of them in English). So when you’re looking for a new read, cast a wide net and explore the far reaches of the globe. 

1. American (238 reviews)
Jack London, Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair, James Fenimore Cooper

2. French (100 reviews)
Emile Zola, Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Jules Verne

3. English (60 reviews)
H.G. Wells, Charles Darwin; also includes the Scottish authors (below)

4. Scottish (22 reviews)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson

5. Polish (20 reviews)
Henryk Sienkiewicz, Wladyslaw Reymont, Boleslaw Prus, Joseph Conrad

6. Mexican (18 reviews)
Juan Rulfo, Mariano Azuela, artists Diego Rivera and Leopoldo Mendéz

7. German (17 reviews)
Hermann Hesse, Ernst Haeckel, Gerhart Hauptmann, Karl Marx

8. Chinese (16 reviews)
Pearl S. Buck, Lu Xun, and some Chinese-language textbooks

9. Canadian (14 reviews)
Mostly art books featuring Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven; plus Brian Moore, William Shatner, and Neil Young

10. Belgian (11 reviews)
Georges Simenon, Maurice Maeterlinck

Runners up
Norwegian (7), Russian (6), Italian (6)

Top Ten Most Reviewed Genres and Subjects
There is some overlap between these classifications of subject, format, genre, or chronology. Some books fit into more than one category.

1. Classic Literature [“Classic” might mean “old” or “highly esteemed”] (338 reviews)

2. Adventure (136 reviews)

3. Short Stories (112 reviews)

4. Modern Literature [“Modern” might refer to time period—roughly 1930s to the present, or style of author—“Modernism” as opposed to Romanticism, Realism, or Naturalism] (84 reviews)

5. Biography (57 reviews)

6. Science Fiction (56 reviews)

7. Recent books [from about the past decade] (52 reviews)

8. Pulp Fiction [works reprinted from or written in the spirit of the pulp magazines] (49 reviews)

9. Nobel Prize (42 reviews)

10. Art (39 reviews)

Top Ten “Omnibus” Posts
Occasionally Old Books by Dead Guys publishes a post that doesn’t focus on a single book, but rather explores a particular author, topic, or theme. Below are some of the more useful ones for fans of classic books.

The Rougon-Macquart Cycle by Émile Zola

The Best Short Stories of Jack London

The Novels of Jack London

Jack London’s Nonfiction

Frank Norris: An Overview

The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper

Publisher Profile: In Praise of the Delphi Classics

Old Books by Dead Nobel Laureates

The Best of 2014

The Best of 2013

Top Ten Most Visited Reviews
When your primary audience is random Googlers, you never know what they’re going to be looking for. Here is a list of the ten most visited posts at OBDG, as of today.


1. Burning Daylight by Jack London
Not one of his better known works. Not sure why so many people are interested.

2. The Peasants by Wladyslaw Reymont
A Polish classic that’s largely unknown to English readers, even though he won the Nobel.

3. Publisher Profile: In Praise of the Delphi Classics
Here I take a look at some of the offerings from my favorite publisher of classic ebooks.

4. Leopoldo Mendéz: Oficio de Grabar by Francisco Reyes Palma
A beautiful art book about one of Mexico’s greatest printmakers.

5. The Burning Plain by Juan Rulfo
A superb collection of short stories by one of Mexico’s greatest authors.

6. The Best Short Stories of Jack London
If readers are looking for an authoritative list, my picks are as good as anyone else’s.

7. Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar by Claudia Ross
Definitely not the most exciting book I’ve ever blogged, but apparently there’s a need for it.

8. The Rougon-Macquart Cycle by Émile Zola
An overview of Zola’s monumental series of 20 novels.

9. The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. by Jack London and Robert L. Fish
Another obscure London title. This one was completed after his death.

10. The Corsican Brothers by Alexandre Dumas
No doubt people are Googling the Cheech & Chong movie.


See you at 1000! (circa 2018)

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