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Word counts

A Separate PeaceA writer writes, right? If you’re going to be a writer (or better yet, an author), you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. Want to write a novel? You need some idea of how many words you need to put on the page. As John Knowles wrote in A Separate Peace, “There was no harm in taking aim, even if the target was a dream.”

What follows is a list of fairly well-known books and word counts, from least to most. Some are classics, others are more recent productions. Make of it what you will.

 

AUTHOR BOOK WORDS
George Orwell Animal Farm 29,060
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men 29,572
Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 46,118
F Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby 47,094
John Knowles A Separate Peace 56,787
William Golding Lord of the Flies 59,900
Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter 63,604
Aldous Huxley Brave New World 63,766
Alice Walker The Color Purple 66,556
John Green The Fault in Our Stars 67,203
John Green Looking for Alaska 69,023
Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 69,066
JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 77,508
Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 84,898
Rick Riordan The Lightning Thief 87,223
George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four 88,942
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird 100,388
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 109,571
Henry David Thoreau Walden 114,634
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities 135,420
Stephen King Pet Sematary 141,912
John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath 169,481
JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 198,227
JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 257,154
Stephen King It 437,781

Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger (2015)

Ghostly

Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories
edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger
Scribner, 2015
464 pages

Who doesn’t love the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series of books? They were some of my favorites as a child, and still bring bone-chilling joy to me still when I think of them. Collections of ghost stories are plentiful, and each brings a little something different to the table. Now that I am older, I crave ghost stories with a little more meat than the Scary Stories provided in my youth. Audrey Niffenegger has collected a fine assortment of such pieces in Ghostly, a new anthology that includes both classic talebearers with modern storytellers.

Timeless tales from Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, and Ray Bradbury are featured, as well as stories from recent masters of the macabre such as Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Rebecca Curtis. Also included is a previously unpublished piece from Amy Giacalone called “Tiny Ghosts,” described by the editor as “fresh and odd and very energetic.”

Halloween may be over, but houses are haunted all year round in this anthology. Adults who loved the Scary Stories series as kids should enjoy Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories.

Learn more about Scribner.

Purchase Ghostly, edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger.

Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural edited by Rick Wilber (2014)

Field of Fantasies Rick Wilber

Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural
edited by Rick Wilber
Night Shade Books, 2014
320 pages

Baseball is an important part of America’s imagination. Some of the most popular baseball tales weave fact with fiction, presenting historical figures in a fictitious settings, and vice versa. Field of Fantasies, an anthology edited by Rick Wilber, presents twenty-three supernatural baseball stories culled from the past seven decades and includes a handful that appear for the first time in print.

A number of literary heavyweights are included in this collection, from Jack Kerouac to W.P. Kinsella to Ray Bradbury. The modern-day master of horror himself, Stephen King, co-wrote a story with Stewart O’Nan called “A Face in the Crowd” that was previously only available digitally. Bradbury’s “Ahab At The Helm” marries Moby Dick with the classic poem “Casey At The Bat” in a brilliant mash-up. Casey also appears in Robert Coover’s “McDuff on the Mound,” a re-telling of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem from the pitcher’s perspective.

Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling also wrote a story entitled “The Mighty Casey,” but it has nothing to do with the Mudville legend. The story originally aired on the program in 1960, and was re-written for Serling’s Stories From The Twilight Zone anthology prior to its inclusion here.

Most baseball fans are familiar with W.P. Kinsella as the inspiration for the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. The short story here, “How I Got My Nickname,” follows the exploits of a teenager who plays for the New York Giants during the pennant stretch of 1951, and his debates with teammates and opponents about whether The Great Gatsby is an allegory.

The editor, Rick Wilber, is a journalism professor at the University of South Florida, and his father Del Wilber played for the Cardinals, Phillies, and Red Sox in the 1940s and 1950s. This book is a great tribute to the game and provides some comfort to those who just can’t wait for the season to begin in April.

Learn more about Night Shade Books.

Purchase Field of Fantasies edited by Rick Wilber.

NaNoWriMo has begun

How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best thins and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting about them?

Ray Bradbury

Will you be joining me this month?

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

(August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)

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