Over at One-Minute Book Reviews Janice Harayda has been having fun with Microsoft Word’s readability stats feature. Sadly this amusing feature wasn’t enough to keep me using Word when I fell out of love with it some time around the turn of the century, so I can’t try this for myself, but Harayda’s experiment on the Booker Prize shortlist is a little shocking. Of Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip she writes:
There are two huge problems with the novel, narrated by a black female university graduate who looks back on the life-changing effect of hearing a white man read Great Expectations when she was 13 and living on a guerrilla-war–ravaged Pacific island. The first is that Mister Pip is written at a third-grade (roughly 8-year-old) reading level, the same as Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. (A list of U.S. grades and their corresponding ages appears at the end of this review.)
How do I know? I once edited books for a test-prep company and, after finishing Mister Pip, realized that its reading level was much lower that of many books I had edited for elementary-school students. So I entered a page of Jones’s text into my computer, ran the Flesch-Kincaid readability statistics that are part of the spell-checker on Microsoft Word …
Read the rest of Harayda’s post here.