6 Degrees of Separation – The Statistics

January 31, 2016 | 2 comments


6 Degrees of Separation is a book meme originally started by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. The meme is based on the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by just six links. The first Saturday every month, a starting book is chosen and the goal is to construct a chain with 6 other books, using any criteria you want, and see where you end up.

After a bit of a hiatus, the meme is now starting up again, and from now on it is hosted by Kate at Books are My Favorite and Best. The first starting book is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, but before making my chain I wanted to look back on all the chains I’ve done (because I’m obsessed with books and statistics and statistics about books and this seemed like a perfect time to to do so).

So far, I have constructed 18 chains, with links to 108 books. Of the 18 starting books, I had only read three (17%) of them when making my chain, and I have read two of the others later. I’ve also used four of the starting books as part of my chains.

I usually try to avoid using books I’ve already used in another chain, but four books managed to be included twice: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Under the Dome by Stephen King, and Ondskan (The Evil) by Jan Guillou. Ondskan was actually the ending book both times.

Only once have a book pair been repeated. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey was the starting book in May 2015. For that chain, I linked it to Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. In July, The Signature of All Things was the starting book, and I couldn’t resist linking it back to Elizabeth is Missing and then use “starting books” as the link to Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, which was the starting book for the first chain I did in April 2014.

The fact that you can use any criteria you want to link books is what I like most about this meme. The possibilities are unlimited. You can be as direct as you want, or as obscure. I’m slightly obsessed with finding double links. 39 (36%) of the books I’ve linked have more than one thing in common. Some books are even linked by 3 or 4 things. In total, I’ve included 153 links. The true number of links is probably a lot higher, because I haven’t counted things like same genre unless I specifically mentioned it.

My five most often used types of links are related to the plot or theme (25%), the title (16%), one or several characters (14%), the movie/tv adaption (11% – I once did an entire chain with links between the movie adaptions), and the author (10%).

One of the most obscure links I made was between The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs and The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie for the November 2014 chain. They might appear to have nothing in common, but like the characters in Jacob’s book, I belong to a knitting club, and when I meet with the club I always drink tea, and the main character in Christie’s book also knits and drinks a lot of tea.

My all-time favourite link is probably between the characters Alice Ascher in Andover, Betty Barnard in Bexhill, and Carmichael Clarke in Churston in The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie, and the characters Bastian Balthazar Bux and Carl Conrad Coriander in The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. My favourite chain is probably the one from October 2014, starting with George Orwell’s 1984 and ending with The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell.

If you’ve been participating in 6 Degrees of Separation, what is your favourite link or chain?

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