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Ten things you need to know about books

PUBLISHED: 09:02 03 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:28 03 March 2014

World Book Day

World Book Day

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1 The English word for book can be traced back to the Danish word for birch tree, bog. The Danes used to write their books on the bog; the English preferred to read them there.

2 The Library of Congress in Washington DC boasts a collection of 28 million books, stored on 532 miles of shelving. If you were driving at a constant 70mph, it would take just under eight hours to pass them all (frankly, you are unlikely to be able to test this theory – it might disturb other readers).

3 More than 40pc of us lie about having read classic novels in order to look more intelligent. The books we’re most likely to pretend we’ve read are Lord of the Rings, War and Peace and Wuthering Heights. No one pretends to read Victoria Beckham’s Learning to Fly in order to appear more intelligent.

4 In 2005, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham admitted she had never read a book in her life, preferring “fashion magazines”. This didn’t stop her writing a book of her own – Learning to Fly – but presumably it did stop her proof-reading it.

5 The best-selling author of recent times is the queen of crime, Agatha Christie, who has been out-sold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Since 1920, Christie’s books have sold more than two billion copies.

6 An original copy of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales sold for £4,621,500 in 1998. And to think, I resented paying £2.99 for it when I was forced to study it for my English Literature A-Level.

7 The biggest book in the world is the Ku Tho Daw Phayar, the complete Buddhist scriptures which are engraved on 729 marble tables, each one 3ft wide by 4ft tall and housed in its own temple. Quite the opposite of a little light reading.

8 Between 1986 and 1996, Brazilian author Jose Carols Ryoki de Alpoim Inoue published 1,058 books. His name alone made up most of the text.

9 The most shoplifted book in America is the Bible. Imagine the red faces when the thieves reached the eighth commandment: Thou shalt not steal.

10 World Book Day is the biggest annual celebration of books and reading in the UK and this year will be marked on March 6. British schoolchildren will receive a £1 book token to spend on a book of their choice. British adults will hope they choose something that they won’t hate reading to them at bedtime.

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