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Fun Facts

Fun Facts about BooksA small collection of interesting facts about books for your edification and hopefully your enjoyment. If you want to take issue with any of these facts, or if you know of any other quirky book-related stuff, please don't hesitate to let us know.

 In 2021, the Guinness Book of World Records named the Christian version of the Bible the best-selling book of all time, with over 5-7 billion copies sold.

The best-selling novel of all time is reputed to be Don Quixote, with 500 million copies sold since it was first published in Spanish in the early 17th century.

Some scholars consider The Tale of Genji, written by Japanese courtier Murasaki Shikibu some time before 1021 AD to be the first novel ever. However, there are older works of fictional prose. For example, evidence of fragments of text on papyri suggests that the Greek novel Callirhoe, may have been written in the 1st century AD, which would make it the oldest surviving complete prose romance. 

in 2300 BC, an Akkadian (ancient Mesopotamian) high priestess named Enheduanna signed her temple hymns. This is the earliest surviving example of a single author signing their work.

The earliest printing press technology was developed around 1000 AD in China by Bi Sheng. In 1440 a German printer, Johannes Gutenberg, invented the first movable-type printing press in Europe. The first book mass-produced with his printing press was the Bible. Today, this is called the Gutenberg Bible, and only 49 copies still exist.

The oldest library still in existence is Khizanat al Qarawiyyin in Morocco. Fatima al Fihria founded it in the 9th century.

The marble lions outside The New York Public Library Building in Manhattan are named Patience and Fortitude. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them during the Great Depression, thinking the names would be encouraging.

Nineteenth century steel magnate Andrew Carnegie spent $60 million to create and fund 1,689 public libraries all around the U.S. that were free, public, and open to everyone. Not everybody approved as many criticised Carnegie for prioritising libraries over fair wages for his workers.

The most expensive books ever sold include a handwritten, original version of the Book of Mormon, dictated by Joseph Smith, which sold at auction for $35 million in 2017, and the Codex Leicester bought in 1994 for $30.8 million by Bill Gates. At today’s values the Codex Leicester is probably the most expensive.

In 1631 the English publisher Robert Barker lost his printer’s license and was fined for printing a version of the King James Bible with the Commandment, ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’(omitting the word ‘not’). It is generally known as the Wicked Bible. There are fifteen known copies of the Wicked Bible today in the collections of museums and libraries in the British Isles, North America and Australasia.

The oldest ‘books’ in the world include the oldest existing European cookbook from 830 AD Germany and Sumerian cuneiform tablets from 2050 BC, now in the Library of Congress. One of the oldest surviving physical books in the world is The Diamond Sūtra, a Chinese Buddhist text that dates back to May 11, 868. It is, in the words of the British Library, ‘the earliest dated printed book’. The oldest surviving printed materials are the Pyrgi Tablets from around 500 BC. On laminated sheets of gold, they are sometimes referred to as the Etruscan Gold Book.

The books adapted into films most often include Les MisérablesA Christmas Carol, and Dracula.

After the Bible, the books translated the most include The Little Prince and the ancient Chinese Taoist text, The Tao Te Ching.

The longest book ever written is frequently considered to be to Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (In Search of Lost Time / À la Recherche du Temps Perdu). It contains about 9,609,000 words (depending on the translation). However, it’s got seven volumes, which some argue disqualifies it as a single book.

The Guinness World Records cites John Q. Benham of Indiana, USA, as the owner of the most extensive private book collection. Benham’s collection of books clocks in at over 1.5 million.

Apparently, Icelanders read more than any other country. 50% of Icelanders read more than 8 books a year and 93% read at least one.

The largest book in the world is This the Prophet Mohamed. It measures 5 meters x 8.06 meters (16.40 ft x 26.44 ft), weighs about 1500 kg (3.306 lb), and has 429 pages.

The world’s longest audiobook is 50 Lectures by the Japanese poet Takaaki Yoshimoto, which can play for about 5 days.

In his novel Les Miserables, Victor Hugo wrote a single sentence containing 823 words. It is the longest sentence ever printed.

Bibliosima is the smell and aroma of an old book in good condition. It is best described as the smell of vanilla flowers and almonds.

Apparently, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the first American novel to sell 1 million copies.

Tsundoku means to let reading materials pile up in one’s home and never read them.

The Powell's Bookstore in Oregon, Portland is the world's largest bookstore with about 68,000 square feet of retail floor space.



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