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Word Order is Insignificant

We spend a lot of time placing words in a specific order to try and convey thoughts, moods, feelings, atmospheres. Interestingly, a jumble of words can often accomplish the same thing.

For example, Robert Lipsyte's recent article on boys and reading in the New York Times stirred the pub industry pot a little bit. Maybe you didn't have time to read it. No worries! Take a quick glance at this jumble of words from his piece, and it'll tell you everything you need to know.

The message jumps out – BOYS LIKE BOOKS! BOYS LIKE READING! BOYS READ! YA? Gender? No problem. I mean, look how "female," "women," "male," "girls," "author" and "characters" are all at the bottom of the jumble. Sex doesn't matter, says Mr. Lipsyte.

Not like we would ever accuse him of thinking otherwise – that boys are turning away from books because of female authors and protagonists dominating the market. That would just be the desperate rantings of someone who feels his masculinity is under attack. And clearly he doesn't feel this way, as you can see by how teeny tiny the word 'masculine' is over the Y in 'boys'.

Well done, Mr. Lipsyte. Well done.

Next up is David Mitchell's article on The Guardian titled "JK Rowling should remember less means more in Potterverse." We don't need to read the article to know the title is sarcastic – less? Less Harry Potter? BAHAHA! As if that could be a good thing. The very idea is as offensive as, say, drawing a cartoon in which Harry is standing next to Jar Jar, who is wearing an I'm With Stupid t-shirt.

The message must really be "you can never have enough Harry Potter." (Hello, they're covering PotterMORE.) And the jumble proves this to be true.

Clearly, all positive words here. Potter! prequels! new! want! books! films! pistachios! chocolate! – I'm totally salivating for more.

So there we are – two articles we didn't need to read. The jumble told us all we needed to know. Eat it, word order.

Now, how about we apply what we've learned to book titles? Here's a jumble of all of the books on the NYT bestseller list right now. ALL of them, fiction, non-fic, hardcover, paperback, picture books, ebooks, manga, the whole shebang. A peek at the words that make people pick books up off the shelves.

UNBROKEN BEASTS. Now there's a title. STACKHOUSE AMERICAN sounds promising, too. And really, who wouldn't pick up a book called LLAMA TIME?

The morale of today: word order is insignificant. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to start writing my guaranteed Harlequin bestseller, SARAH'S ROCKING SUPERMAN.
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. That was great! I love the wordles!

  2. Harry Tv!

    I love this. I'd read a book called Stolen Garden, too.

  3. I love the titles we get off the last one.

    "Henrietta Garden Street"
    "Dead Reversal"
    "Castle Bloodlines"
    "Cat Go Walking"


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Item Reviewed: Word Order is Insignificant Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman