Where have I been all week? Buying many, many books. My place of work is having a huge book sale, which I am always a sucker for, and my having to constantly restock the sale tables with large numbers of books has caused me to go a little overboard. I’ve picked up about ten so far, but I have approximately twenty-five others waiting in a drawer at work that I am going to end up bringing home whether I believe that I will actually read them or not. My favourite find so far is Czeslaw Milosz’s New and Collected Poems, 1931-2001. You can listen to him reading his poetry here. I am not usually one who admires poetry. There are few poets I can at all stand to read. The words wrestle with each other, race too quickly under my eyes, lines and pages finish themselves before I am inside them. It often makes me impatient. Mr. Milosz, though, he pulls me inside somehow. Another book I picked up that is worthwhile, especially for those with shorter attention spans and an interest in what horrible things can happen to people, is The Pessimist’s Guide to History: An Irresistible Compendium of Catastrophes, Barbarities, Massacres, and Mayhem – From the Big Bang to the New Millennium by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner. It’s a great browsing kind of read for when you are sitting in bed half asleep or waiting for the bus.
The Fiery One and I were over at our friend’s parents’ house last night in order to help them commemorate their cat’s life by putting together a photo album of pictures of the kitty. It had been a nice cat that I liked very much when I would visit, and they always have such wonderful food, so it turned out to be a nice evening. We suspected before going that my friend’s mother would have a strange vision or dream to share with us relating to the cat’s death, because she often has vivid dreams relating to such events. It turns out that the night of the event, she woke up, and hovering next to her bed was a cat with human hands commandeering a small space ship. They had come for her kitty. Oh my.
Book Facts and Links:
* The origin of the Latin word for book, liber, comes from the Romans who used the thin layer found between the bark and the wood (the liber) before the times of parchment. The English word comes from the Danish word for book, bog, meaning birch tree, as the early people of Denmark wrote on birch bark.
* The official definition of a book was settled at an UNESCO conference in 1950. They decided that a book was “a non-periodical literary publication containing 49 or more pages, not counting the covers”.
* A rare first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll raised $1.5m at auction in New York, making this the most valuable children's book ever sold. The book was Carroll's own working copy that he used to prepare the text for a simplified version for younger children. Only 22 copies of the 1865 first edition are known to exist today, 17 of which are in libraries and just five, including the copy just sold, are in private hands.
* The Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA contains 28 million books and has 532 miles of shelving. If you were driving at a constant 70 mph in a car it would take you just under 8 hours to pass them all. The British Library in London is the 2nd biggest with 18 million books.
* Of all time, this accolade goes to Agatha Christie, detective story authoress. Since 1920 her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 45 foreign languages. She is outsold only by the Bible and William Shakespeare.
* Between 1986 and 1996, Brazilian author Jose Carlos Ryoki de Alpoim Inoue had a massive 1,058 novels published. He writes westerns, science fiction and thrillers.
* The world’s largest book is called the Super Book. It has 300 pages, measures 2.74 x 3.07 metres, and weighs 252.6kg.
* In 1998 in Sheffield UK, John Evans balanced the most books on a person’s head. He balanced 62 identical books on his head, and they had a total height of 185.4 cm (73 in) and weighed 98.4 kg (217lb).
*The most valuable book is an original copy of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that sold for a record £4,621,500 ($7,394,400) at Christies, London, UK on 8th July 1998. This was more than 9 times the expected price. The book was the first major work printed in England by William Caxton, in 1477.
* A list of bizarre book titles.
* The chronology of book history.
* An amusing animated history of books.