Our love for books and reading is easy to understand. Reading is an amazingly beneficial activity, one that can keep us entertained for hours on end, one we can learn a lot from, and one that can help us relax and detach from the stressful lives we live.
Books are not only the support for the reading we love so much, but are also special in their own way. The way they look, how they smell, and how we feel holding them in our hands are just a couple of the things why books have had a special place in our hearts for centuries.
There are many facts about books that are worthy of our attention, and since we are dedicated to providing you with all the relevant information about books and reading, the Basmo team came together to bring you the most complete list of interesting book facts.
What are the most interesting facts about books?
Finding out all the amazing facts about books is going to put things in a little perspective in regards to how much we love reading and how much we appreciate books in general. It makes a lot of sense to allow ourselves to be fascinated by these things, whether we’re talking about fun facts, completely bizarre ones, or simply interesting facts about reading.
1. The first book ever written
The only natural interesting fact about reading to get us started is where it all began. As far as historians can tell, the first book ever written was the Epic of Gilgamesh. An epic poem dating back thousands of years, it was written in ancient Mesopotamia around the year 2100 BCE.
It consists of twelve clay tablets and was discovered in the ruins of the Ashurbanipal library in 1853. It tells the story of the hero king of Uruk and is believed by many to have been an inspiration for some of Homer’s writings.
While this book dates back thousands of years, where things really changed for books as we know them was the year 1454. That is when a brilliant German man called Johannes Gutenberg managed to build the world’s first printing press. Almost overnight, everything changed in terms of book printing and this was the first step toward us having access to millions of titles printed ever since.
2. Top 3 most printed and sold books
Since reading is so important and such an amazingly useful activity and learning tool, it may be interesting to find out which 3 books were the most popular as of 2021.
3. With 500 million copies sold, and a little surprisingly, in third place in this list comes the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling’s magic writing and the incredible story she managed to come up with have obviously managed to touch the hearts of many avid readers out there.
2. Another big surprise comes for the second position. “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” was sold in 900 million copies worldwide. Also known as the “Little Red Book”, this compilation of statements from the former Chairman of the Chinese Communist, was first published in 1964. 116 pages of pure Chinese communist wisdom made our list. Amazing!
1. And here it is. The most popular book of all time is … The Bible! Sold in more than 6 Billion copies, the Holy Bible is by far the most printed, sold, and read book of all time. It has been translated into over 300 languages and is the first building block for the most popular religion in the world.
3. The longest book ever written
“A la recherche du temps perdu” by Marcel Proust holds the world record for the longest book ever written. With 9,609,000 characters, 1.5 million words, and over 4,000 pages, the novel written in 1912 is actually the story of its author’s own life. It would take an average-speed reader over 83 hours of intense reading to finish perusing the whole novel.
Since we’re on the subject of reading speed, let me take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about Basmo, the best reading tracking app you can get. First of all, it’s important to know that it was built by a team of specialists who are passionate about books and reading. Second, the app was built to match all the needs of a modern reader in a user-friendly, safe, and perfectly optimized interface.
When it comes to the tracking it does, Basmo is an excellent choice to help you check your reading speed, the amount of reading you do, the time you spend reading, and much more. Each reading session estimates the number of pages you go through automatically and you can easily correct the data once you finish reading. This allows you to have information about your reading speed and general performance at your fingertips.
4. The largest book in the world
You will be amazed to know that the biggest book that currently exists in the world is no less than 5 meters by 8.06 meters. It weighs about 1.5 tons, is 429 pages long, and was accredited by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012. It was revealed by Mshahed International Group in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) and holds the name “This the Prophet Mohamed”. Its content consists of a series of stories describing Islam’s Prophet’s most important achievements.
5. The longest audiobook
If you’re into binge-listening to audiobooks and looking for a challenge, you will be pleased to find out that the longest audiobook you can find is no less than 113 hours and 30 minutes long. That’s almost 5 days of continuous listening, in case you were curious. The audiobook consists of the “50 Lectures” by the Japanese poet Takaaki Yoshimoto and is a compilation of his lectures from the 1960s and 1970s.
6. The first “bestseller” dates back to 1889
While a bestseller may sound like something rather modern, originating from recent times when literature has become more of an industry than a form of art, the truth is that the term “bestseller” dates back to 1889 and was used in Alice Brown’s book “Fools of Nature”.
7. People from Iceland are avid readers
While most of us connect Iceland to its Viking past more than anything else, the truth is that the population in Iceland is actually a lot more refined, civilized, and intellectual than any of us might expect. Their Viking days are long gone, and they are today an example for all of us. When it comes to reading, certain statistics suggest that they might be the most avid readers in the world.
50% of Icelanders read more than 8 books per year, while 93% of them read at least one. This may have something to do with their traditions. The most relevant one is their Christmas tradition of gifting each other books. Not only that, but they also have the habit of actually spending the Christmas evening reading together and eating chocolate. That’s a tradition we can certainly get behind at Basmo. As a matter of fact, most of our nights are surprisingly similar to the Icelandic Christmas.
8. The first book that sold more than 1 million copies
Reaching 1 million sold copies of a book was something completely different a century ago. If today selling 1 million copies may not seem like such a big deal, it certainly was back then. The first book to ever reach 1 million copies in sales is thought to be Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written in 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
9. The largest bookstore in the world
If you’re anything like our Basmo team, most bookstores you’ve visited somehow seem too small. Well, in case you were wondering, there is a bookstore in Oregon, Portland, that is officially the largest bookstore in the world. The Powell’s Bookstore has no less than 1.6 acres of retail floor space. Also known as the City of Books, it sells both new and used books and covers an entire city block. It has ten thematic rooms (Green, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red, Gold, Pearl, Coffee, Rose, and a Rare Book Room) and a cafe.
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What are some fun facts about books?
The world of books and reading is surrounded by a lot of mystery and fun facts. Here at Basmo, we are big fans of interesting, fun facts about books, so here are our favorites.
1. Stephen King once wrote a children’s book
Can you imagine the creator of The Shining, Christine, Pet Semetary, and other horrifying books that haunted our dreams for weeks writing a children’s book? Well, it happened back in 2016, when during the San Diego Comic-Con, the book Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of The Dark Tower, was released. The book was written by Stephen King under the pseudonym Beryl Evans.
2. Charles Dickens decorated his library with fake books
Back in 1851, Charles Dickens moved into his London home, the Tavistock House, where he was later going to write Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities. Wanting to fill some space in his study room, he chose to create a series of fake books, for some reason that was never found out. Instead of purchasing books for his bookshelves, he went the surprising route of coming up with a bunch of fake book titles and getting the imitation books created especially for his bookshelf.
He came up with pretty clever titles like Forty Winks at the Pyramids, The Art of Cutting the Teeth, or Heavyside’s Conversations with Nobody.
3. The film industry is dependent on books
While most of us don’t give this much thought, an interesting fact about books is that it actually supports more industries than we can imagine. Not only is reading essential for our education and our physical and mental health, but authors also contribute a lot more to our entertainment than we think.
It is estimated that up to 51% of the movies and series that we watch are based on, or inspired from literature. Not only that but there is a difference in the success a certain movie or show has when it is inspired by a book, as those that have a book behind them tend to be watched and beloved a lot more.
If books suddenly stopped existing, the film industry would struggle to produce new content, and the content would become a lot less qualitative.
4. Books bound in human skin?
The Harvard library owns at least one book that was bound in human skin. Des destinées de l’aime (The Destinies of The Soul) has been confirmed with a 99.9% accuracy as being covered in human skin. The habit of bounding books in human skin is not as uncommon as you may think.
The book was published around 1880 and has been sitting on Harvard Library’s bookshelves since 1930 when it was received as a donation.
What are some random facts about books?
Some facts are just too random to be categorized in any other way than in a category of their own. Here are some of the most fascinating random facts about books we were able to learn.
In case you were wondering, that amazing feeling you get when smelling an old book has a name. The love for the smell of books is called bibliosmia and it describes the effect our nostrils experience whenever we sniff the pages of an old book. While many describe the smell to be somewhat similar to vanilla flowers and almonds, the team at Basmo agreed that it is just a unique fragrance that has no equivalent.
Chemistry is responsible for the smell we all know and love, which is generated by the breakdown of two elements in paper: cellulose and lignin. The chemical process of this slow breakdown releases several chemical elements like toluene and ethylbenzene, which are responsible for the sweet odor. On top of this, the benzaldehyde and furfural that are released produce a fragrance similar to almonds.
In case you’re a different breed of bookworm and the smell of books isn’t your cup of tea and you prefer not to surround yourself with a stack of to-read books, there’s always the Basmo alternative.
With Basmo, you can organize your TBR list digitally, directly on your smartphone.
The app encourages you to create as many reading lists as you want, and you can easily update, modify, and personalize all of them so you can even organize your reading according to genre or author.
And since we’re on the subject of amazing functionalities, you should know Basmo has a bunch of them.
Basmo was designed to make you a better, more accomplished, and more efficient reader regardless of your current status.
Basmo allows you to read mindfully, keeping you constantly engaged with your reading stats and precious information about your performance.
Not only that, but it also encourages you to set realistic goals for your reading habits, whether you want the goals to be for the daily time you spend reading or for the big picture of the number of books read annually.
Moreover, with Basmo you can take notes while reading, directly on your smartphone. You can keep a reading journal, keep your emotions in check with the feelings tracker, and even save quotes and turn them into easily shareable images.
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2. The Mars Exploration was predicted in 1952
Project Mars is a non-fiction book written by Wernher Von Braun back in 1952. He discusses the possibility of exploring the planet Mars and imagines a mission that is completed with the inhabitation of the planet Mars with humans governed by a leader called Elon. Interestingly, in the book, Elon ends up leading the humans towards a complete takeover of the planet Mars. Nobody knows if Wernher Von Braun actually had a vision that seems to materialize decades later, or if Elon Musk was inspired by the book to become who he is today. But we have to admit, the coincidence is surprising to say the least.
3. The term “bookworm” has an unexpected origin
While being a bookworm does come with a series of challenges in itself, the origins of the word are not too flattering either. The term was first used to describe insects that were living in and eating the bindings of books. There are several insects, including moths, cockroaches, and beetles that are known for physically consuming the pages and bindings of books. The term’s meaning later changed to describe a person who reads a lot or in other words “consumes” book after book.
4. A blind woman wrote a book
Trish Vickers is a blind woman, who, at the age of 64, while battling terminal cancer, had the dying wish of having a book published. She had spent the last 6 years working on it without a Braille computer but wrote it by hand on a notepad using rubber bands as row separators. She had lost her eyesight 11 years prior to her book being finished, and the last 26 pages of the book were blank because her pen ran out of ink but she never realized it.
Grannifer’s Legacy, the book she wrote, was printed only two weeks after she had finished writing it, but sadly, Trish passed away on the exact day when her book was published.
5. Norway really supports writers
Writing a book and getting it published is strongly supported by the government. If your book passes quality control, the government will buy your first 1,000 copies. Not only that, but if your book happens to be a children’s book, the government will buy 1,500 copies which will then be distributed to libraries all over the country.
A true fan of reading and books must know at least some amazingly interesting facts about books. Books are fascinating in themselves, but there are so many interesting statistics, stories, and events in the world of books, that you will certainly enjoy hours on end scrolling through different facts if you decide to spend an evening entertaining yourself with them online.
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