Book facts that not a lot of people know

Anne Miler is a ‘QI elf’ and has shared some book-related facts with us that we think you will find quite interesting…

by Anne Miller on

We are a planet of book lovers: in Iceland, 1 in 10 people will publish a book, IKEA sells a bookcase every 10 seconds, and in Japan they have the word ÔÇÿTsundokuÔÇÖ to describe the phenomenon of buying books but not getting around to reading them. ┬áIf this describes you, there is a perfectly logical justification as more than 20 books are published in the UK every hour. It would take 500 years to read everything published in one year and over 80,000 years to see everything in the British LibraryÔÇÖs collection.

Inspiration for books can come from the most varied places ÔÇô D. H. Lawrence liked to climb mulberry trees in the nude, Dan Brown hangs upside down to beat writerÔÇÖs block and Dr Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham after making a bet with his publisher that he couldnÔÇÖt write a book using just 50 different words. Seuss is thought to be the first person to use the word ÔÇÿnerdÔÇÖ, in 1950s┬áIf I Ran The Zoo. ÔÇÿDinner-partyÔÇÖ first appeared in Jane AustenÔÇÖs Emma and ÔÇÿfreelanceÔÇÖ in Sir Walter ScottÔÇÖs Ivanhoe. Charlotte Bront├½ was the first person to use ÔÇÿcottage gardenÔÇÖ, ÔÇÿraised eyebrowÔÇÖ, ÔÇÿnow nowÔÇÖ, ÔÇÿkitchen chairÔÇÖ and ÔÇÿWild WestÔÇÖ and Lewis Carroll combined ÔÇÿchuckleÔÇÖ and ÔÇÿsnortÔÇÖ to create the word ÔÇÿchortleÔÇÖ in ÔÇÿJabberwockyÔÇÖ.┬á Inventions in literature stretch beyond language – the man who invented the water-bed wasnÔÇÖt able to patent it because it had already appeared in science-fiction novels.

There are books for every situation, no matter how serious or senior ÔÇô the most-borrowed bookÔÇ¿from the Houses of Parliament library is called How Parliament Works. Similarly, the top title checked out of the Bank of EnglandÔÇÖs information centre is an A-level Economics textbook. If you ever find a book heavy going, remember the British war censors who found James JoyceÔÇÖs Ulysses so difficult they were convinced it was written in code.

The joy of books, and facts about books, is their inherent ability to surprise ÔÇô in the French Harry Potter books VoldemortÔÇÖs middle name is Elvis ÔÇô and intrigue ÔÇô Joseph Conrad died leaving an unfinished novel called Suspense. ┬áOn the planet of book lovers, books are rightfully celebrated for their ability to capture ideas from the imaginations of authors and transport anyone willing to open their pages. As Groucho Marx once said: ÔÇ£Outside of a dog, a book is manÔÇÖs best friend. Inside of a dog, itÔÇÖs too dark to read.ÔÇØ

1,234 QI Facts To Leave You Speechless and The Third QI Book of General Ignorance are available now.