Thursday, January 6, 2022

Ten Years of Old Books by Dead Guys

Recapping the first decade
The Old Books by Dead Guys blog turns ten years old today! The first post back on January 6, 2011 was a review of Emile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin. One decade and 1,181 blog posts later we’ve reviewed Zola’s complete works, as well as the complete works of Jack London, Frank Norris, and a few others, while continuing to chip away at the extensive oeuvres of many other classic writers, including the usual suspects listed below. Here is a nutshell recap of the highlights from ten years of active and curious reading.

Most Reviewed Authors
Writers with the most blog posts devoted to books by or about them.

Pictured: Simak (6th), Sinclair (7th), Simenon (9th)

1. Jack London (80 reviews)
Best books include The Iron HeelThe Call of the WildMartin EdenBefore AdamThe Faith of MenMoon-FaceThe RoadJohn Barleycorn. The best biographies of London are Earle Labor’s Jack London: An American Life and Irving Stone’s Sailor on Horseback. The most viewed blog post at Old Books by Dead Guys, by far, is my list of The Best Short Stories of Jack London.

2. Emile Zola (54 reviews)

Best books include GerminalLa TerrePot-BouilleThe DebacleL’AssomoirParisThe Death of Olivier BecailleThe Flood. Frederic Brown’s comprehensive biography Zola: A Life is also a good read.

3. Honoré de Balzac (39 reviews)

Best books include Père GoriotCousin BetteLost IllusionsEugénie GrandetThe Hidden MasterpieceFarewellalso the biography Honoré de Balzac: His Life and Writings by Mary Frances Sandars.

4 (tie). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (33 reviews)
Best books include The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesA Study in ScarletThe Hound of the BaskervillesThe Great ShadowThe Captain of the PolestarThe Doings of Raffles Haw.

4 (tie). H. Beam Piper (33 reviews)

Best books include Police OperationGenesisFlight from TomorrowThe Edge of the KnifeLittle FuzzyFind them all in The H. Beam Piper Megapack.

6. Clifford D. Simak (30 reviews)
Best books include Way StationCityMastodonia, and the excellent series The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak.

7. Upton Sinclair (28 reviews)
Best books include The Jungle100%: The Story of a Patriot, and the Lanny Budd series.

8. Frank Norris (22 reviews)
Best books include The OctopusMcTeagueThe Third CircleThe PitMoran of the Lady Letty. Read the post Frank Norris: An Overview for more info.

9. Georges Simenon (21 reviews)
Best books include Dirty SnowTropic Moonand the Inspector Maigret mysteries The Late Monsieur GalletA Man’s HeadThe Night at the CrossroadsMaigret and the FortunetellerMaigret and the Killer.

10 (tie). Pearl S. Buck (17 reviews)
Best books include The Good EarthSonsA House DividedDragon SeedThe PromiseCommand the Morning.

10 (tie). Henryk Sienkiewicz (17 reviews)

Best books include With Fire and SwordThe DelugePan MichaelQuo VadisOf related interest: The Memoirs of Jeremiah Curtin (Sienkiewicz’s English translator).

12. Jack Kirby (15 reviews)
Kirby is known for his art more than his writing, but as one of Marvel Comics’ pioneering creators he did both. Some of his best work can be found in Essential Fantastic Four, Volume 1 and Essential Captain America, Volume 5. Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics is a great biography and retrospective of his art.

13 (tie). Hermann Hesse (14 reviews)
Best books include SteppenwolfSiddharthaNarcissus and GoldmundGertrudeKnulp. My post The Fiction of Hermann Hesse gives an overview of his career.

13 (tie). Frank Herbert (14 reviews)
Best books include Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God Emperor of Dune. If you get that far you might as well read Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune, and The Dune Encyclopedia. His best non-Dune book that I’ve encountered is Soul Catcher.

13 (tie). Alexander von Humboldt (14 reviews)
The best books about Humboldt are The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf and The Passage to Cosmos by Laura Dassow Walls. Books written by Humboldt include Views of Nature and his three-volume Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America During the Years 1799-1804.

Pictured: Kirby (12th), Herbert (13th), Humboldt (13th)

Most Reviewed Nations
While American, French, and English literature lead the pack as far as books reviewed, Old Books by Dead Guys likes to explore books of many nations. Below are the most frequently visited literary destinations.

1. American (568 reviews) 🇺🇸
Jack LondonFrank NorrisUpton SinclairJames Fenimore CooperKatherine Anne PorterJohn Steinbeck

2. French (187 reviews) 🇫🇷
Emile ZolaHonoré de BalzacAlexandre DumasVictor HugoJules Verne

3. English (162 reviews) 🇬🇧
H.G. WellsCharles DarwinJoseph ConradBertrand Russell; also includes the Scottish authors (below)

4. German (49 reviews) 🇩🇪
Hermann HessePaul HeyseKarl MarxAlexander von HumboldtErnst Haeckel

5. Scottish (44 reviews) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Sir Arthur Conan DoyleSir Walter ScottRobert Louis Stevenson

6. Canadian (42 reviews) 🇨🇦
Margaret AtwoodHarold BindlossBrian MooreMazo de la RocheGrant AllenHugh MacLennan, and art books featuring Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven 

7. Polish (39 reviews) 🇵🇱

Henryk SienkiewiczWladyslaw ReymontBoleslaw PrusAdam Mickiewicz

8. Mexican (29 reviews) 🇲🇽
Juan RulfoMariano AzuelaCarlos Fuentes, artists Diego Rivera and Leopoldo Mendéz

9. Belgian (25 reviews) 🇧🇪
Georges SimenonMaurice Maeterlinck

10. Chinese (24 reviews) 🇨🇳
Pearl S. Buck (American raised in China), ConfuciusLu XunMo Yan, and some Chinese-language textbooks

11. Russian (23 reviews) 🇷🇺
Leo TolstoyIvan TurgenevBoris PasternakMikhail Sholokhov

12. Norwegian (18 reviews) 🇳🇴
Knut HamsunBjørnstjerne BjørnsonAlexander KiellandThor Heyerdahl

13. Swedish (12 reviews) 🇸🇪
Selma LagerlöfFrans G. Bengtsson
Werner von Heidenstam, August Strindberg

14 (tie). Danish (10 reviews) 🇩🇰, Greek (10 reviews) 🇬🇷, Italian (10 reviews) 🇮🇹

Top Ten Most Reviewed Genres and Subjects
These categories of subject, format, genre, and/or chronology are the most tagged among OBDG’s 1,181 reviews. Some books fit into more than one category.

1. Classic Literature (697 reviews)

2. Modern Literature  (331 reviews)

3. Adventure (247 reviews)

4. Science Fiction (205 reviews)

5. Short Stories (200 reviews)

6. Biography (152 reviews)

7. Nobel Prize (150 reviews) See the complete list of Nobel reviews here.

8. Pulp Fiction (141 reviews)

9. History (129 reviews)

10. Recent books (120 reviews)

Best 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. 

100 Five-Star 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

Here’s to another 10 years! Keep on reading Old Books by Dead Guys!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your 1st ten years, hope you never lose your enthusiasm for reading and for writing reviews. You do a terrific job with this blog.