Girls in books, statistically

Emily St. John Mandel [pictured here], a former girl, who writes books, analyzed data about the many of the characters who are specifically identified as a “girl” in the title of a book. Mandel wrote up her findings for the FiveThirtyEight web site:

The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train — Why are there so many books with “girl” in the title?” by Emily St. John Mandel.

Who are these girls? Why are there so many of them? Books with “girl” in the titles make up a tiny fraction of all the books published in a given year, but they appear again and again on the bestseller lists. Other people have written about this trend, often with great eloquence, but none of them were backed by a data set. Using the database at Goodreads, the popular social networking website for readers, we set out to change that. A number of patterns emerged in our analysis: The “girl” in the title is much more likely to be a woman than an actual girl, and the author of the book is more likely to be a woman. But if a book with “girl” in the title was written by a man, the girl is significantly more likely to end up dead….

(Thanks to John Tyska for bringing this to our attention.)