5 Beguiling Facts About Books


“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.” ― Nora Ephron

For as long as humans have existed, they have told stories. This began as spoken word and cave drawings, transcended to papyrus pages and scrolls, and continued to evolve in beauty and complexity as shown through illuminated manuscripts (essentially the original picture books).

Here are 5 book facts to celebrate this ancient, powerful craft:

  1. The first known book ever written was The Epic of Gilgamesh. (source) This was a Mesopotamian series of epic poems retelling the life and triumphs of Gilgamesh (or Bilgamesh in Sumerian), a king of Uruk during the Third Dynasty of Ur.
  1. The global literacy rate is 86.81%. (source) The countries with the highest literacy rates (all 100%) are Andorra, Finland, Greenland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and North Korea. The country with the lowest literacy rate is Chad at 26.76%.
  1. William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie are tied for highest estimated literature sales of all time. (source) Their minimum estimated sales is 2 billion and their maximum estimated sales is 4 billion.
  1. The best-selling book of all time is the Christian Bible. (source) Although it is impossible to estimate the total number of copies (since it has been printed for nearly 1500 years in various forms), it is believed total Bible sales is between 5 to 7 billion copies.
  1. The earliest known author is believed to be an Akkadian princess and high priestess named Enheduanna. (source) Enheduanna signed her temple hymns in 2300 BCE, making it the earliest surviving example of a single author signing their work.

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