Archive for the ‘Books’ Category.

Lektüre 2016

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Poul Anderson: Rebellenwelt
  • Peter Ames Carlin: Bruce
  • Bronnie Ware: 5 Dinge, die Sterbende am meisten bereuen
  • Poul Anderson: Ehrenwerte Feinde
  • Frank Böttcher & Sven Plöger: Klimafakten
  • Michael Schumacher: Tankard – Life in Beermuda
  • Ashlee Vance: Elon Musk – How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Is Shaping Our Future
  • Max Frisch: Homo Faber
  • Jojo Moyes: Me Before You
  • Götz Aly: Unser Kampf 1968
  • Javier Marías: Die sterblich Verliebten
  • Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör
  • Joël Dicker: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
  • Max Frisch: Stiller
  • Meghann Foye: Lügen haben runde Bäuche
  • Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen
  • Frank Portman: King Dork
  • David Safier: Mieses Karma
  • Julia Neumann: Odins Auge
  • Bernd Groot-Wilken, Kevin Isaac & Jörg-Peter Schräpler (Hrsg.): Sozialindices für Schulen
  • Andy Weir: The Martian
  • Roger Willemsen: Das Hohe Haus
  • Marie Fredriksson & Helena von Zweigbergk: Listen to My Heart – Meine Liebe zum Leben

Lektüre 2015

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Philipp Oehmke: Am Anfang war der Lärm
  • Frank Portman: King Dork Approximately
  • Poul Anderson: Dominic Flandry: Im Dienst der Erde
  • Andy Weir: The Martian
  • Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
  • Jean Philippe Blondel: 6 Uhr 41
  • Charles Murray: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead
  • Poul Anderson: Höllenzirkus
  • Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven
  • Marc Elsberg: Blackout
  • Florian Illies: 1913
  • James Rollins: The 6th Extinction
  • John Scalzi: Lock In
  • Matthew Brzezinski: Red Moon Rising – Sputnik and the Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age
  • Sina Trinkwalder: Wunder muss man selber machen
  • Donald A. Wollheim: The Secret of the Ninth Planet
  • Ben Mezrich: Sex on the Moon
  • Dave Eggers: Eure Väter, wo sind sie? Und die Propheten, leben sie ewig?
  • David Baldacci: The Escape
  • David Baldacci: Total Control
  • Susanne Schäpler: Das Geheimnis der Naga

Lektüre 2014

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity
  • Matt Forbeck: The Con Job
  • Jürgen Becker: Geld allein macht nicht unglücklich: Mit dem Mysterium des rheinischen Kapitalismus aus der Krise
  • Andrew F. Gulli, Lamia J. Gulli (Hg.): Letzte Ruhe
  • Ian J. Deary: Intelligenz – eine sehr kurze Einführung
  • Rich Wilson: Lifting Shadows
  • Keith DeCandido: The Zoo Job
  • Detlev H. Rost: Handbuch Intelligenz
  • Dieter E. Zimmer: Ist Intelligenz erblich? Eine Klarstellung
  • Dar Williams: Lights, Camera, Amalee
  • Christoph Weißenfels: Ischen Impossible
  • Timothy Zahn: Erben des Imperiums
  • Jack Ritchie: Für alle ungezogenen Leute
  • Frederick Forsyth: Die Todesliste
  • Paul McAuley: The Quiet War
  • Michael Marten: Drei Klausuren und ein Todesfall
  • Isaac Asimov: Ich, der Robot
  • Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • Chris Hadfield: Anleitung zur Schwerelosigkeit: Was wir im All fürs Leben lernen können
  • Simon Garfield: On the Map
  • Timothy Gowers: Mathematik
  • Marc Lindemann: Unter Beschuss
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Romulus der Grosse
  • Neil LaBute: The Mercy Seat

Lektüre 2013

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Patricia Highsmith: Zwei Fremde im Zug
  • Theresa Couchman: The Unmapped Lands
  • Elizabeth George: A Suitable Vengeance
  • Khaled Hosseini: Drachenläufer
  • Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach
  • Marc-Uwe Kling: Die Känguru-Chroniken
  • Greg Cox: The Bestseller Job
  • Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena
  • Bertram Job: Bis zum bitteren Ende – Die Toten Hosen erzählen IHRE Geschichte
  • Allan Pease, Barbara Pease: Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps
  • Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon
  • Robin Sloan: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookshop
  • Robert Galbraith: The Cuckoo’s Calling
  • José Carlos Somoza: Das Einstein-Projekt
  • Winston Graham: Marnie

Measuring the Popularity of Novels?

Apparently, the amount of ratings on is highly correlated with the ratings, at least for John Green’s four novels (r = .96). But is it really ‘the more, the merrier’? I picked four more authors (in a non-random fashion), had a look at the respective correlations for their novels, and made a couple of graphs to illustrate the results.

Scatter plot of amount of ratings and ratings

Novels by John Green, Maureen Johnson, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer

The relationship is a negative one for Stephanie Meyer’s books. Two books of J.K. Rowling are outliers – her first one in terms of ratings on GoodReads, her most recent one in terms of rating. I therefore took the liberty to plot a quadratic fit (instead of a linear fit). It appears that John Green might be an exception (like the Mongols?) Also, ratings tend to be higher; and again, there is no clear relationship between the amount of reviews and the average rating.

And since I recently finished reading “On Chesil Beach”, here’s the data for Ian McEwan’s novels, along with a more appropriately scaled plot for Maureen Johnson’s books:

Scatter plot of amount of ratings and ratings

Novels by Maureen Johnson and Ian McEwan

By the way, the correlation between ratings and ratings for the 40 books I used above is r = .89. The correlation between number of reviews and ratings is r = .75.

PS: If anyone is interested in the Stata code for the graphs, let me know. I guess, I’ll add it here this weekend, anyway, but right now I should go to bed.

Null Hypothesis Significance Testing: The Fault in Our Stars


[…] The same is true on amazon, where the book’s average rating has actually gone up a bit in the past six months (although not in a statistically significant way). […]

Actually, the ratings have decreased in a statistically significant way (alpha < .05). I used the two most recently archived pages from, which do not cover exactly 6 months. Still, ratings before 2013-02-03 were higher than those after that date.

  • Before (2110 ratings): mean = 4.76 (SD = 0.014)
  • After (1232 ratings): mean = 4.67 (SD = 0.021)

A t-test (two-sided, unequal variances) yields p = 0.0009 (d = -0.12); and for the non-parametric fans, the Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) test yields p = 0.0001.

Using 2012-10-19 as dividing date, yields similar results:

  • Before (1051 ratings): mean = 4.77 (SD = 0.020)
  • After (2291 ratings): mean = 4.71 (SD = 0.015)

A t-test (two-sided, unequal variances) yields p = 0.0188 (d = -0.09); the Wilcoxon rank-sum test yields p = 0.0008. Of course, significance testing might be a questionable procedure in this case – and also in general.

This is actually a census of all Amazon ratings, so there’s no need to test whether ratings differ. The sample is the population. However, the written reviews could be regarded as a subsample of the ratings of all readers.

Is it a random sample? I don’t think so. So can we draw proper conclusions from the significance test results? Nah. I won’t provide a comprehensive discussion of the benefits and problems associated with the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). I’ll just name one of my favourite objections, which Cohen (1990, p. 1308) phrased nicely: “The null hypothesis, taken literally (and that’s the only way you can take it in formal hypothesis testing), is always false in the real world.” In the present, the null hypothesis would mean, that average rating of newer readers is exactly the same as the average rating of those who pre-ordered the book etc.

Anyway, the effect size suggests that the drop in ratings is very small, so it should be safe to argue that the book keeps appealing to new readers.

PS: Sorry for nitpicking; this should in no way diminish the article, which I think is highly insightful.

PPS: I spend a good 15 minutes in R trying to beat the data into shape, but I feel much more comfortable in Stata, so I switched and had the analysis in a few minutes. Here’s the do-file in case anyone in curious. (Haha, as if!)

Continue reading ‘Null Hypothesis Significance Testing: The Fault in Our Stars’ »

Thoughts on “The Bestseller Job”

Today’s mail contained a copy of “The Bestseller Job” (by Greg Cox), a novel based on the televion series “Leverage“. I really like “Leverage” and I was sad to learn that its 5th season was going to be the last one. I’m not usually into novels that expand existing series, but on a whim I bought this one. I’m 76 pages in right now. (The book has 291 pages.) It is certainly too early for a final verdict. I just thought I’d put down my first impression, which, by the way, is positive. The writing style matches the editing of the television series; the plot fits the Leverage universe perfectly, and I’m thrilled that 3/4 of the story are still ahead of me. I like it when the summary on the back doesn’t spoil the whole first half of a book, so I was pleasantly surprised how fast “The Bestseller Job” took off. I was even more enthralled to find the crew en route to Germany. Heck, we learn that Parker once had an alias from Stuttgart. And it’s not just these nods to the country I live in, it’s the acurate transition from one medium to another that makes me really happy. Okay, back to reading!

Lektüre 2012

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Joseph M. Siracusa: Nuclear Weapons – A Very Short Introduction
  • Elisabeth Rank: Und im Zweifel für dich selbst
  • Jennifer E. Smith: Die statistische Wahrscheinlichkeit von Liebe auf den ersten Blick
  • Dan Brown: Das verlorene Symbol
  • Nicholas James: Cancer – A Very Short Introduction
  • Andy McNab: Signal Bravo Two Zero
  • Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games
  • Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire
  • J. Meade Falkner: Moonfleet
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Elisabeth Streit: Renates erster Flug
  • Elisabeth Streit: Renate als Luft-Stewardeß
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin: O’Brien Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music
  • Lloyd Alexander: Der Setzerjunge
  • Justin Cronin: The Passage
  • Kai Bird & Martin J. Sherwin: J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Kevin Brockmeier: The Short History of the Dead
  • John Green: Das Schicksal ist ein mieser Verräter
  • Ian McEwan: Solar
  • Flavia Company: Die Insel der letzten Wahrheit
  • Susanne Schäpler: Schwarzes Blut
  • Shania Twain: From This Moment on
  • John Green: Paper Towns
  • Frank Portman: King Dork
  • Arthur C. Doyle: A Study in Scarlet
  • Ildiko von Kürthy: Unter dem Herzen
  • Arthur C. Doyle: The Sign of Four
  • Laurie R. King: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Fault in The Fault in Our Stars

“Unquestionably the funniest song you will ever hear about THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.” –John Green

This ain’t a book about a ballet dancer
No, it’s a book about a book about cancer
But there is something that is more important
This book mentions Natalie Portman
In 3 out of 25 chapters – I think she’s pretty scarce
That’s the fault in “The Fault in Our Stars”
Yeah that’s the fault in “The Fault in Our Stars”

If you do the math then you will see
22 chapters without Natalie
The ones that mention her are way too short, man!
John Green should have added way more Portman
It wouldn’t have been as difficult as landing a rover on Mars
That’s the fault in “The Fault in Our Stars”
Yeah that’s the fault in “The Fault in Our Stars”

At least the book doesn’t end in the middle of

Continue reading ‘The Fault in The Fault in Our Stars’ »

Lektüre 2011

Folgende Bücher habe ich 2011 durchgelesen:

  • Steven J. Osterlind & Howard T. Everson: Differential Item Functioning (Second Edition)
  • Terry Pratchett: Nation
  • Malise Ruthven: Der Islam: Eine kurze Einführung
  • David Berlinski: Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics
  • Jan Weiler: Drachensaat
  • Hans-Peter Beck-Bornholdt & Hans-Hermann Dubben: Der Hund, der Eier legt
  • Christoph Drösser: Stimmt’s? Das große Buch der modernen Legenden
  • Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Mick Wall: The Status Quo Autobiography – XS All Areas
  • Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the Sky
  • Nick Hornby: Juliet, Naked
  • Andreas von Bülow: Die CIA und der 11. September
  • Isaac Asimov: Der Tausendjahresplan
  • Isaac Asimov: Der galaktische General
  • Isaac Asimov: Alle Wege führen nach Trantor
  • Thilo Sarrazin: Deutschland schafft sich ab
  • Florian Popp: Fern wie die Zeit
  • Judith Schalansky: Der Hals der Giraffe
  • Stefan Siller, Thomas Schmidt: Top Tausend X. Das Buch zur Show
  • Otto Frisch: What Little I Remember
  • Andreas Eschbach: Die Haarteppichknüpfer
  • Michael Lewis: The Big Short – Inside the Doomsday Machine
  • Jennifer Burns: Goddess of the Market – Ayn Rand and the American Right
  • John Madison: Nothing for Ungood