What kept me curious this week

  • Does the number of pages matter and motivate one to read more books? 
  • Of all the things pandas could have chosen, they chose…
  • How expensive is it to change the name of a city?


“I just don’t have the time to read” is a common statement I hear from friends. I have to agree, finding time to read continuously is hard. 

Even if I have the best book, I have noticed that reading the first 30 to 40% of the book is the most time-consuming task for me. It is also the time when I can quickly get distracted and stop reading the book. But once I cross that 40% marks,  I am glued to the book and have nothing else to do but read. 

So the quicker I cross the 40% mark, the more likely I will read more books. And to quickly cross that mark, the easiest way is to have fewer pages. 

So the question – does the number of pages matter and motivate one to read more books? And how does page number influence reading across the world?

I got a dataset of books listed in GoodReads. The total number of books in the dataset is 769,987. To make sense and also to make the visualisation more manageable, I picked books published only in the last 50 years. I also removed books that have less than 100 reviews, book box sets, and religious texts.

That left me with 22,400 books to play with.

Interpretation 1 – 200 to 400 number of pages is a magic number. 55% of the 22,400 books are in this category. This could be taken as either the most popular books, both from a reader perspective and an author’s perspective.  

Interpretation 2 – Average rating of books is higher with more number of pages. The tipping point is more than 800 pages, where the rating is above 4.  

But the new adage must be verified – “don’t judge a book by its rating”. So for next week, I will superimpose this graph with Pulitzer price winning books and see how they fare with the rest. 

Pandas – bamboo-chomping, sleep-loving, floofballs:

Of the many things Pandas could have chosen, they chose to become vegetarian. About 2 million years ago, Pandas made the shift to a diet consisting of 99% of bamboo shoots and leaves. Research says that they made this shift because Pandas lost Tas1r1, a gene that codes the umami taste receptor.

Surprisingly, their bodies did not make the needed shift – their bodies are not meant for a vegetarian diet. Pandas anatomy is still similar to its carnivorous cousins like the grizzly bears and brown bears. So, only 17% of the 19kgs of bamboo they consume per day get digested.

Pandas have tiniest cubs in comparison to the size of their bodies. A baby panda is born blind and pink. It weighs only 0.14 kg, which is 1/1000th the size of their mother. The reason is again rooted in this bamboo diet Pandas have. A baby panda does not get the needed oxygen for development while in the womb, and hence are that small when they are born. But, eventually, with great love and care, they grow up to become adorable bamboo-chomping, sleep-loving, floofballs. 

How expensive is it to change the name of a city?

A few weeks back, the Government of Tamil Nadu announced that they are changing the name of a city close to my heart. The events that followed were filled with memes and discussions on why would the government make this move.

The only question I had when I heard this news was, what is the cost?

A change in name involves changing all the signboards, applications forms, and maps. Not to mention the transition cost that would be required. Example, my passport, for the next three years, will not have this new spelling for the address. Like my passport, there will be many more examples. My mind was buzzing trying to find at least an estimated cost. 

The most surprising finding I got was that I could not figure out what the cost would be. I was able to find a list of cities and countries that changed the name because of cultural and political motives. But, no cost.

If you have any suggestions or ideas on how a cost can be calculated, please drop me a message in one of my social media handles. I would highly appreciate it. 

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  1. Any book you read, is like a new born baby not having any pride of having any knowledge. Pure innocence. From emptiness, to slowly understanding,, one finds going slow in reading. It is like getting ready to face the destiny, pain and pleasure, sudden twists and turns, without knowing what the author has in the climax. So the tempo inncreases as the understanding gathers. Life and drama is like that. Each book is an experience. The more the pages, longer the life and drama.

  2. Your summary of books that can be read was interesting…….I guess just like exercise….reading also has to be experienced and eventually get to an addiction….! Information of pandas is very interesting…and yes..the change of name of a city will take years to get implemented.. !!!
    Good and to be pondered points chosen !!!

  3. For me I think hearing is more useful than reading
    Even in the Guru Shisya parampara ‘sravanam’ is still practised in India
    Panda newborn can be compared to
    ‘Vamana’ avatar Panda adult can be compared to Viswaroopa Dharshan of Lord Vishnu
    Changing the name of the place is like changing our dress Instead we can try to improve the place

  4. Hearing is better than Reading Even in Veda Shastras and Guru Paramparas ‘shravanam’ is practised
    Baby Panda can be compared to ‘vamana avatar’
    Adult Panda can be compared to ‘Viswarupa Dharshan’ of Lord Vishnu
    Changing the name cannot change the place
    Changing the dress cannot change our body

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