It’s strange to think of a world that speaks just one language. Considering how language colors our worldview, a monolingual world would be relatively colorless. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and today there are over 7,000 languages being spoken. In keeping with the saying, this makes our world pretty spicy.
The issue is some languages are spoken by billions of people, and some are spoken by just a few. Some living languages are spoken by just one person, sadly. The good news is there are people out there trying to protect endangered languages, such as The Endangered Languages Project, which is where much of the information in the infographic is from.
Ethnologue is another key resource for understanding global languages. Although thousands of languages are spoken around the world, according to Ethnologue, just twenty-three languages account for half the world’s population. There are about 7 billion people on the planet, and over 1 billion people speak the various forms of Chinese. Check out the infographics below to begin to get an idea of some of the world’s wildest language facts. 7,000 is a big number, and let’s make sure we keep some of these lesser-spoken languages kicking. As already established, variety is the spice of life!
Haruki Murakami is by far the most popular Japanese author alive, and yet he’s remarkably private. He’s famously reclusive and resistant to fame. He’s been married to Yoko Murakami since 1971, and she’s always been his first reader. He prefers that routine over having a circle of professional writing friends, citing his lifelong shyness.
There are scraps of his life available, though, for the curious fans out there. Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve learned about Haruki Murakami.
1. He ran a jazz bar in the 70s with his wife.
Image Via The Paris Review
Called Peter Cat, Murakami and his wife ran the bar from 1974 to 1981. He was pretty steeped in the day-to-day of the bar during that time, and didn’t write fiction at all, nor had he written any prior, which leads me to the fact that…
2. He only started writing fiction at 29.
He went to a baseball game and saw a player hit a double. It’s not really that impressive a play. It’s definitely good for that player’s team, but it’s not actually that remarkable. Still, it inspired a young Murakami to believe that he could write a novel. A few months later, he had a draft of his first novel Hear the Wind Sing.
3. He is an insanely accomplished runner.
Image Via The Guardian
Also starting relatively late, Murakami began his famed love affair with running when he was thirty-three. Since then, he’s run marathons, triathlons, and ultramarathons. Ultramarathons are any races longer than 26.2 miles. He runs or swims long distances almost every day, and titled his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
4. He loves detective stories.
The first English-language book he read (he taught himself English, by the way) was called The Name is Archer by crime writer Ross Macdonald.
5. He’s won basically every Japanese literary award.
This includes the highly prestigious Yomiuri Prize, which Murakami won in 1995 for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The recipient wins 2 million yen (about $18,000) and an inkstone, which is used for grinding one’s own ink. Personally, I’d just take the inkstone—that thing sounds awesome.
6. He falls asleep at 9pm and wakes up at 4am, without an alarm.
Considering everything, it’s just not at all surprising.
Hey. I heard you like book facts. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I’ve got them. Not all of them, but many of them—the ones you want at least. Did you know that there are 129,864,880 published books in the world? Did you know that 90,000 of those books come from India? How about that Romance is the highest grossing genre? Even if you did happen to know those things, you may be surprised to learn that L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, wrote the third longest book ever published.
Want to know more? Read on!
Highest Grossing Genre
Applie iBooks 11%
Barnes and Noble 8%
Kob US 3%
Google Play Books 2%
Highest Grossing Book Series Movie Adaptations
The Hunger Games
Lord of the Rings
Highest Grossing Book Series
1. Harry Potter
3. Peter Rabbit
4. Lord of the Rings
5. The Chronicles of Narnia
7. Little House On The Prairie
8. Milennium Trilogy
9. Hunger Games
10. A Song Of Ice And Fire
Cyrus the Great by Georges de Scudéry/Madeleine de Scudéry
The late Swedish Industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-1898) established the Nobel Prizes “for the greatest benefit of mankind” in 1901, and ever since The Swedish Academy has been honouring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, literature, peace, physiology, and medicine. As for the prize in literature, it was to be awarded year after year to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. Amongst Nobel’s broad cultural interests was his love of literature from an early age, and in his late years he tried his hand at writing fiction, too.
Here are some facts about this award:
1. The first literature prize was awarded to French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme in 1901 “in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect.”
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2. In 1909, Selma Legerlof became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Legerlof wrote Jerusalem, which in 1996 was adapted into a movie by the same name. Her books were translated into thirty-four languages due to their popularity.
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3. The Nobel Medal for Literature was designed by Swedish sculptor and engraver Erik Lindberg and represents a young man sitting under a laurel tree who, enchanted, listens to and writes down the song of the Muse. The inscription reads: “Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes,” which, loosely translated, means, “And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery.”
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4. There have been a few winners who have declined the acceptance of their award, among them Boris Pasternak, a Russian poet and writer who won in 1958. He was famously known for Doctor Zhivago, a novel set between the Russian Revolution and the Second World War. Pasternak’s work was not allowed to be published in the USSR and was forced to decline the award. Another person to decline was French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964, who claimed to decline all official honours. In his refusal letter he wrote that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution.”
5. Alfred Nobel, “inventor of dynamite,“ may have been inspired to create the Nobel Prize after a premature obituary in a French newspaper called him a “merchant of death.” Talk about wanting to better your legacy! What happened was Alfred’s brother died and a local newspaper printed Alfred’s farewell by accident. When he saw it, the headline disturbed him. “The Merchant of Death is Dead” is what he read. Worried about how he would be remembered, he decided to invest 94% of his money into the five Nobel Prizes.
6. The youngest winner to date is Mumbai-born British author Rudyard Kipling, back in 1907. Then, aged 42, the author of The Jungle Book also became the first English-language winner.
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7. Other popular literature laureates include Seamus Heaney, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel García Marquez, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Tom Morisson.
We are all fans of a fun fact. Humans are curious creatures, always on the hunt for new information that will benefit us or inspire us in some way, and a solid fact never goes unappreciated.
For example, don’t you feel more in tune with the world knowing that the first person to order a pizza for delivery was Margherita Savoy, Queen of Italy in 1889? That’s 128 years of sweet, sweet pizza loving around the world, people. Or how about knowing that over 1.3 million Earths could fit into the sun, or that sharks are older than trees clocking in at 400 million years of swimming our oceans?
My personal favourite new fact is that if too many pistachios are shipped in a single container, they will self-heat and experience spontaneous combustion. Yes, wacky facts about the potentiality of a nut exploding may only stay lodged in our memory for a day or two but the following pieces of literary information may be more useful to you bookworms in the long run; here goes:
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Fun Fact #1
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Where the Wild Things Are was originally titled Where the Wild Horses Are, and Maurice Sendak would have written about horses, however the author and illustrator soon realised he was crap at drawing them and thought it better to draw ‘things’ instead; ergo, one of the most unforgettable children’s stories of all time was born.
Fun Fact #2
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The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964 and was thought to be racist by many critics, with some arguing the opposite, insisting it was written to be an anti-racist novel. First of all, Dahl’s Oompa-Loompas were originally described as “black pygmies” from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had gone before.” They were quickly rewritten to be from “Loompaland” and appeared to have “rosy-white skin” and “golden-brown hair”.
On another note, critics insist that the first edition had the chance to be a really powerful racial allegory, as Dahl wanted Charlie Bucket to be a black child, caught in a chocolate mould that factory owner Willie Wonka helped him into. Charlie was to get trapped and nearly drown in the chocolate which was to be poured over him, eventually hardening, causing him great pain. Sources say that Dahl wanted the mould to be a metaphor for racial stereotype, as in the early twentieth century, chocolate marketing in both the US and England was tied up in imperialist fantasies and in connecting brown skin with brown chocolate.
Fun Fact #3
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Charles Dickens was a little bit of an eccentric. Growing up in London during the nineteenth century meant he was surrounded by such grim realities as working class life expectancy being twenty-two-years-old, half a million Londoners suffering and dying from typhus due to the lack of sanitation, 220 crimes being punishable by death and in 1839, when Dickens had reached the age of 27, nearly half of the funerals in London were being held for children under the age of ten, most of whom had full time jobs as laborers.
With a reality as cut throat as this, Londoners were surely grappling with a lot of fear and hardship. Dickens is known to have been a big practitioner of hypnotism (A.K.A. mesmerism to the Victorians) and the supernatural. He was a member of ‘The Ghost Club’. He also had a set of funny ideas such as sleeping facing north would help improve his writing and he regularly touched things three times for luck.
Cute Fact #4
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John Steinbeck’s original manuscript for Of Mice and Men met an interesting fate by being eaten by his pupper fluff Toby. Steinbeck said of the loss of his work to his agent, Elizabeth Otis,
My setter pup, left alone one night, made confetti of about half of my manuscript…. I was pretty mad but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically. I didn’t want to ruin a good dog for a [manuscript] I’m not sure is good at all.
What a nice dude and a dog lover taking his pups actions in his stride.
Fun Fact #5
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Gabriel García Marquez refuses to allow One Hundred Years of Solitude to be made into a film. Universally hailed as a major work of literature about the history of isolated town Macon and the Buendías family who founded it, no film has ever been made of the book, as the author declined every invitation to sign away the film rights. The first film adaptation of one of his novels came in 2007 when the English director Mike Newell made Love in the Time of Cholera. Friends claimed Márquez only agreed to the deal because he had been diagnosed with cancer and was concerned about the future of his family. However, as it stands today, the author deems One Hundred Years of Solitude “unfilmable” unless the the film includes the entire book, only releasing one chapter – two minutes long – each year, for 100 years. Sheeeeesh.
Fun Fact #6
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Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time with over 500 million copies sold. Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, about a man who becomes so infatuated with tales of knights that he decides to become one, is the novel which gave us the idiom- “tilting at Windmills” to indicate a noble but futile endeavor. Quixote’s misadventures as he travels across the Spanish countryside seeking wrongs to right and downtrodden peoples to uplift have amused generations of readers since it was published in 1612. Don Quixote is considered one of the first novels ever written, too.
Slightly Fun Fact #7
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Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions. Yep, the title was chosen due to a branding strategy that was sure to boost sales with publishers going for an “if-you-liked-that-you’ll-also-love-this” approach. Jane Austen’s blockbuster sales of Sense and Sensibility encouraged this name change by sticking to the noun-and-noun formula to ca$h in those book sales.
Fun Fact #8
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Catch-22 is hailed a cornerstone of American literature and is one of the funniest-and most celebrated books of all time, and it only took Joseph Heller 8 years to complete it. It is an anti-war novel and a general critique of bureaucracy set in Italy during WWII. If bombardier Yossarian excuse himself from the perilous missions he and his army are assigned, he’ll be in violation of a catch-22, a sinister yet hilarious bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but is he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved of his duties. Certainly has himself in a pickle.
Funnest Fact #9
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Bill Gates brought Codex Leicester, one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s scientific journals for $30.8 million at Christie’s New York back in 1994. The sale currently holds the record for the second highest sale price of any book ever. Bill Gates is known to be an avid reader, with a personal collection of rare books hand selected by his professional book dealer. Codex Leicester is a collection of scientific journals, the most famous of all of the thirty journals Da Vinci kept and it is an exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the creativity of the scientific process.