In celebration of books: Did you know?

Being the National Year of the Reading,
here are some interesting facts about books:
  • Early books didn't have titles or authors or anything printed on the covers?
  • Books used to be shelved "backwards" with the spine facing the back of the shelf and the fore-edge facing out?
  • The largest book in the world is "The Klencke Atlas” with 1.75 (175) metres long and 1.9 (190) metres wide. It is so heavy as it needs six persons to lift it and other two to open it. Johan Maurits of Nassau made The Klencke Atlas, which Amsterdam merchant Johannes Klencke apparently presented to Charles II of England upon the king's restoration to the throne in 1660. The book is a collection of 37 printed wall maps encapsulating all the geographic and historical knowledge of the time. All the maps are either unique or one of only a few copies. 
  • One of the most controversial books of all times is “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov. This was a subject for controversy right from its publication in 1955 and the controversial character followed it ever since. It was published in France, but it was banned there and in other countries such as United Kingdom, South Africa, Argentina, or New Zealand. However, it seems that in America the book enjoyed a big success selling 100,000 copies in the first three weeks. The novel is an exploration inside the mind of a pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and obsession for nymphets like the 12-year-old Dolores Haze.
The Domesday book
  • What is the Domesday book? It was a survey, or census, commissioned by the Norman Conqueror King William I, of his newly conquered lands and possessions in England. It was intended to document "What, or how much, each man had, who was an occupier of land in England, either in land or in stock, and how much money it were worth". This great survey enabled the Normans and William the Conqueror to administer England and levy taxes. The census was completed in 1086 with all result in the Domesday book.
  • One out of every eight letters you read is the letter ‘e’. 
  •  There have been over 20,000 books written about the game of Chess.
  • Interestingly, William Shakespeare invented the word "hurry."
  • The first published book ever written on a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used a Remington in 1875.  Where as Leo Tolstoy’s wife copied the manuscript of War and Peace 7 times . . . by hand.
  • In the book, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is one sentence that is 823 words long. When Hugo wrote to his editor inquiring about their opinion of the manuscript, he wrote, "?" They answered, "!"
  • The Bible remains the most bought book with 3.9 billion copies, others in the top ten include "The Dairy of Anne Frank" (27 million copies sold), the "Harry Potter Series" at 400 million,  "Twilight - the Saga" with 43 million, The Da Vinci Code (57 million sold), The Lord of the Rings (103 million copies) and "Quotation from the Works of Mao Tse-tung at 820 million copies. 
  • A Mills & Boon paperback is sold in a UK bookshop on average every 6.6 seconds. 200 million are sold each year world wide. Each month in the UK 50 new titles are released with 1500 authors world wide.  Who said romance was dead!!


  1. I think you missed a decimal, 1.75m x 1.9m. Also, the Victor Hugo sentence -- in English at least, it depends on which edition one reads.

  2. Interesting! As much as I love my different hobbies, the one thing that I could never, ever give up is reading. In college I tried to just get by reading my class work, but found myself to be so miserable without a little pleasure reading that I took to scheduling in a bit of "me" reading every day, even if it was just on the bus. It made me a much happier person, and more satisfied student!

  3. Nick - it was a VERY BIG book!! All fixed, including the spelling error at the top and the incorrect spelling of metre!

    True with VH's long sentence. Mine was in English and I can remember it taking a couple of pages.

  4. Val - when my children were small and I was studying at univeristy I stopped reading for pleasure and it was like loosing a friend. Now the book and I are best of friends once again and we travel everywhere together.

  5. That's really cool Jo! We are taking a closer look at Shakespeare's works (1 of them anyhow), so hearing his name again is interesting! xxx

  6. Very interesting facts, Jo - I didn't know most of them!! I cannot imagine how a sentence could be a true sentence and be that long. It sounds like several paragraphs all in one sentence!!

    I wonder why books used to be on the shelf backwards??

  7. Clara - I have read Les Miserables and that very long sentence and yes, it could have been many sentences. I knew about it before I started but then had to find it as my brother wasn't going to tell me where it was!!

    I can't answer that question!!

  8. Sarah - William Shakespeare invented many words - here are some of them:

    And here are some of his phrases:

    What a clever man!

  9. Yes it was a very big book -- a beautiful one too; I looked it up having never heard of it. Thank you for introducing us to it.
    The copy of Les Mis that we had at home (perhaps the copy you own now) had the loooong sentence; sadly the copy I bought for myself does not.


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