…but Hans Diller is alive

A complete list of all the books I've read in my reading club

The purpose of this page is mostly personal, but may also act as inspiration for anyone looking for a good (or bad) book to read :)

Roughly every second month, I meet with my friends Morten, Mikkel, Klaus, and Jeff to discuss a book we've read. And maybe have a beer. We have a reading club called "…men Hans Diller lever".

The name comes from a piece of graffiti at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen, where all students and teachers have a collective crush on Michel Foucault. Possibly in a somewhat odd attempt to mock the humanists, someone wrote, with huge letters in front of the entrance, "FOUCAULT IS GAY". Later, "IS" was edited to "WAS" to clarify that he had died, and even later someone added "MEN HANS DILLER LEVER", which is both a dull joke (meaning "but his willie is alive" in Danish) and a reference to the little-known German classical scholar and historian Hans Diller. That's meta-humanity-humour for ya.

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Photo credit: daamcrew 4.

These are the books we've read.

For sorting reasons, dates are written as yyyy/mm/dd. Country codes follow FIFA's country codes.

We also rated them on a scale from 0 to 5. The ratings shows the mean and spread (standard deviation, i.e. how much we agreed/disagreed on the rating). Because I like statistics, below the table you'll find a summary of how our readings are distributed according to various parameters.

Date Author Country Title Year Pages Stars Spread
2023.02.10Helle Helle DENHafni fortæller 2023180(currently reading)
2023.12.16Mary Shelly ENGFrankenstein 18182403.5±0.9
2023.11.03Virginie Despentes FRAVernon Subutex 20193274.2±0.4
2023.08.11Tove Ditlevsen DENA Child was hurt 19411684.1±0.2
2023.06.17John Fante USAAsk the Dust 19392023.6±0.2
2023.04.06Göran Tunström SWEThe Christmas Oratorio 19833263.6±0.6
2023.10.02Édouard Louis FRAThe End of Eddy 20142204.2±0.2
2023.14.01Gustave Flaubert FRAMadame Bovary 18574321.9±0.7
2022.11.04Luke Rhinehart USAThe Dice Man 19714771.2±0.8
2022.08.26Margaret Atwood CANThe Handmaid's Tale 19853113.1±0.4
2022.06.02Jennifer Egan USAA Visit from the Goon Squad 20102934.0±0.0
2022.03.09Hans Kirk DENDe ny tider 19392113.2±0.5
2022.01.08Lone Frank DENStørst af alt 20202923.3±0.7
2021.10.29Jack Kerouac USAOn the Road 19572852.9±1.1
2021.08.14Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa ITAThe Leopard 19582472.7±0.8
2021.06.12William Golding ENGLord of the Flies 19541963.1±0.9
2021.04.03Ray Bradbury USAThe Martian Chronicles 19501923.2±0.8
2021.04.03Alistair MacLean SCOWhere Eagles Dare 19671662.9±0.7
2021.01.30Vladimir Nabokov USALolita 19553074.1±0.4
2020.11.21Halldór Laxness ISLSalka Valka 19313733.0±0.6
2020.09.18Laurence Sterne ENGThe Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman 17595882.7±0.6
2020.05.30José Saramago PORBlindness 19952844.1±0.4
2020.04.04Iain M. Banks SCOThe Wasp Factory 19842324.0±0.0
2020.02.11Arto Paasilinna FINThe Year of the Hare 19751833.5±0.8
2019.12.27Siri Hustvedt USAThe Blazing World 20144343.8±0.5
2019.10.26Isaac Asimov USACaves of Steel 19532141.7±0.2
2019.08.09Sophus Helle og Morten Søndergaard (overs.)SUMGilgamesh -21001403.8±0.8
2019.05.11Brett Easton Ellis USALess than zero 19851632.8±0.7
2019.02.08F. Scott Fitzgerald USAThe Great Gatsby 19251712.6±1.0
2018.11.24Günther Grass GERThe Tin Drum 19595551.5±0.9
2018.08.24Peter Adolphsen DENRynkekneppesygen 20172453.6±0.2
2018.06.02Ourselves DENWe wrote our own short stories 20180185.0±0.0
2018.04.07Svend Aage Madsen DENBetween Heaven and Earth 19902084.1±0.2
2018.02.17Louis-Ferdinand Céline FRADeath on Credit 19365084.9±0.2
2017.12.15Karen Blixen DENSeven Gothic Tales 19345002.3±0.8
2017.10.06Erich Maria Remarque GERAll Quiet on the Western Front 19292024.3±0.2
2017.07.18Jens Blendstrup DENSlagterkoner og Bagerenker 20164184.2±0.2
2017.04.08Jan Sonnergaard DENRadiator and other short stories 19972213.8±0.7
2017.02.10H. P. Lovecraft USAThe Call of Cthulhu and other short stories 19281174.0±1.0
2016.11.19John le Carré ENGThe Spy Who Came in from the Cold 19632252.2±0.2
2016.08.26Peter Madsen DENThe Book of Job (comic book version) -4501041.0±0.4
2016.08.26Virginia Woolf ENGTo the Lighthouse 19272102.5±0.4
2016.07.10Aksel Sandemose DENA Fugitive Crosses his Tracks 19334254.0±1.0
2016.05.14Morten Pape DENPlanen 20155574.3±0.4
2016.02.19Orhan Pamuk TURThe White Castle 19851603.6±0.2
2015.12.05Thomas Pynchon USABleeding Edge 20135190.4±0.2
2015.10.10Dan Turèll DENVangede Billeder 19751933.6±0.4
2015.08.28Harper Lee USATo Kill a Mocking Bird 19603073.2±0.2
2015.05.14Michel Houellebecq FRAThe Map and the Territory 20103124.5±0.3
2015.03.13Joseph Conrad POLHeart of Darkness 18991282.9±0.5
2015.01.30Fjodor Dostojevskij RUSNotes from Underground 18641664.3±0.4
2014.12.06Charles Dickens ENGA Tale of Two Cities 18594402.9±0.4
2014.09.27Gabriel García Marquéz COLOne Hundred Years of Solitude 19673082.5±0.6
2014.06.21Knut Hamsun NORHunger 18901084.5±0.3
2014.06.21Lewis Carroll ENGAlice In Wonderland 18651403.4±0.5
2014.04.17John Steinbeck USAEast Of Eden 19525794.0±0.0
2014.03.22Ernest Hemingway USAThe Old Man and the Sea 19521123.0±0.0

Diller statistics

The following sections show some statistics of the books we've read, our ratings, etc.

The figures and the underlying analysis are coded in Python, and will be updated after each meeting.

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Our general enthusiasm of the the books we've read are distributed as shown above. Median values are shown in the box, along with uncertainties given by the 16th and 84th percentiles. Although we typically rate around the 4 stars, the distributions are asymmetrically skewed toward lower ratings, pulling down the average (and to a lesser degree the median).

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Considering the average and 1σ standard deviations as a function of time, the picture emerges that, over time, we've been more in disagreement (that is, the error bars increase with time), although perhaps we've been better at avoiding books that we all dislike (except for a dip with The Dice Man and Madame Bovary, which were rather horrible).

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On average, the books we read had 282±141 pages. This average is, however, pulled somewhat up by a few (much too) long books, although our own novels pull it down again.

The median and 16/84 percentiles of the number of pages is \(232_{-71}^{+206}\), and the full distribution is seen on the histogram above, where I've binned the number of pages in intervals of 50 pages.

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This plot shows a histogram of the year of publication of the books we've read. Note the discontinuous x axis, so designed in order to show Gilgamesh (earliest inscriptions date back to at least 2100 f.Kr.), The Book of Job (most estimates are "between the 7th and the 3rd century B.C."; although we read the graphic novel version from 1999), and Tristram Shandy (1759–1767).

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This pie chart of the distribution of the nationalities of the authors shows (not surprisingly) an overabundance of Danish authors, and perhaps also not so surprisingly multiple American and British authors. These are the nationalities that we're mostly exposed to, but we do try to diversify our choice og books somewhat, and roughly 1/3 is spanning multiple nationalities.

Country codes follow FIFA's country codes.

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The distribution of the author's gender is not entirely up to scratch…

The little blue segment is due to my lack of knowledge regarding the authors of Gilgamesh and the Book of Job.

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The last figure shows a correlation plot of the number of characters i the Danish and English titles, respectively. The dashed line shows the \(n_\mathrm{Dan} = n_\mathrm{Eng}\) line. The fact that most points lie above this line implies that Danes are better at being brief and concise.