Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some Statistics

For March there are four different pieces to be read.  The most we've had in a previous month was three.  I was curious if there are any other months that ended up with four.  There are actually two more like this.  February of Year Seven (2018) and June of Year Eight (2019).
I don't know if I've explained before how I split up the list, but I'll do so now.  You may know that each year has 18 pieces in it.  I decided to go with a monthly pattern so that meant there would be some months with more than one piece.  The list is taken from the back of The Great Conversation.  Each entry includes the volume number and the pages that the piece can be found on.  I simply figured out page counts and tried to divide each month as equally as I could.  I also paid some attention to thematic content.  For instance, I paired Plato and Aristotle and tried to keep political science type things together.  It didn't always work, as this month shows.  (I don't know if Plato, Aristotle and Euclid would be bothered by being grouped together, but I won't worry about it.)
For most years, this worked pretty well.  There are some light months and some heavy ones, but it usually works out to about 100 pages per month.  Please note, that there is an assumption here that the type size is the same in all of the Great Books volumes and I don't think that's true.  Anyway, you work with the tools that you have.  For instance, for Year Three, the page count breaks down like this:

January - 111
February - 95
March - 111
April - 184  (Tacitus - The Annals)
May - 34  (Thomas Aquinas)
June - 155  (Chaucer - Troilus & Cressida)
July - 36  (Shakespeare - Macbeth)
August - 240  (Milton - Paradise Lost)
September - 91  (Locke, Kant)
October - 95  (Mill, Lavoisier)
November - 170  (Dostoevsky - Bros Karamazov, Part I-II)
December - 20  (Freud)

For this year, the numbers bounce around quite a bit.  The longer pieces are mostly literature or history which should make reading them easier.  The Freud piece this December, is the shortest planned reading month in the whole decade.  That's just how it works out.  No other year is this lumpy.
I also have full page counts for each year.

Year One - 862
Year Two - 1059
Year Three - 1342
Year Four - 1535
Year Five - 1560
Year Six - 1657
Year Seven - 976
Year Eight - 1148
Year Nine - 1263
Year Ten - 1666

Total 13068

For the most part what I said about larger page counts belonging to easier reading holds true throughout the whole list.  The whole idea behind this ten year reading plan is that an average person could spend just 15 minutes per day reading the listed material and they'd cover the whole shebang.  It doesn't say if this was tested in any way and 'average' may have meant something different when this list was published.  Still, the first couple of years weren't too bad, right?

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