Novel word counts skewed by a form of dark matter

HEINUS – NEW YORK A recent post to the Publisher’s Weekly blog announced that the average novel contained 64,000 words and detailed the word counts of famous novels. Some of the word counts listed:


47,192 words (64% of books have more words)

“Brave New World”

64,531 words (50% of books have more words)

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”

70,570 words (45% of books have more words)


209,117 words (4% of books have more words)

“War and Peace”

544,406 words (0% of books have more words)

But now researchers at the Brest-Litovsk Institute for Advanced Study have announced the results of a study that shows reader’s perceptions of word counts become skewed as word counts increase. Principle Investigator of the study, Dr. Dean Wormer said that current physics could not fully account for the phenomenon.”This is an area in need of more study,” Wormer said via a translator.

As people read longer books, the books seemed to get longer still. One participant of the study said when he started to read War & Peace in August 1991, he could easily pick up the book and even read it while walking down the street. But as time went on, the book became longer and bigger. He could no longer even lift the book, but had to leave it on his kitchen table. By the fall of 1998, the book had become so large that it broke through the table and plummeted down three floors to the basement of his apartment building.The man had to go down to the basement to read it. Eventually, the book became large and heavy enough to force its way underground where it disappeared forever in the spring of 2002.

Wormer speculates that there must be some “dark words” affecting the word count. “These dark words appear to be similar to the dark matter that fills the universe but cannot be seen,” Wormer said. “Teenagers seem to be particularly susceptible to this effect. Naturally, this explains why young people and many adults shy away from long books. It could mean that War & Peace could become completely unread in our lifetime. Until we know why this is happening, we believe writers should write shorter books. We recommend no more than 150 to 175 words.”