The Book Owl Podcast is (almost) a year old! And like many people will do during milestone birthdays, The Book Owl has decided to take things to the extreme. Sorry, it doesn’t involve bungie jumping. In this episode we explore some bookish extremes from the biggest book to the biggest library, the oldest tome to the oldest bookstore, and much more. Fair warning…there is singing involved.
Mentioned in This Episode….
- Join my Review Team at https://tinyurl.com/TammieReview
- See show supporter Ivonne’s paper goodies at https://www.instagram.com/withlovefromvirginia/
- Check out Jonathon Pongratz’s books at https://jonathanpongratz.com
- Shop for my new release The Undead Mr Tenpenny by selecting your preferred retailer at https://books2read.com/CassieBlack1
- Order The Uncanny Raven Winston at https://books2read.com/CassieBlack2
- Order The Untangled Cassie Black at https://books2read.com/CassieBlack3
Like what you hear?
- Discover several inexpensive ways to keep the show running at https://thebookowlpodcast.com/support
- View some Book Owl Swag at https://tinyurl.com/BookOwlSwag
- Get bonus content with every episode by joining the flock at https://www.subscribepage.com/bookowlpodcast
- Contact the Book Owl with comments or book topics you’d like to see covered at https://thebookowlpodcast.com/contact
- Episode Page with links mentioned in the episode, transcript, and more at https://wp.me/pbLfAe-jJ
- Visit The Book Owl on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/c/TammiePainter
- Follow, review, and discover all the places you can listen to The Book Owl Podcast at Podchaser at https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/the-book-owl-podcast-1101096
The (Rough) Transcript
Hey everyone, this is Tammie Painter and you’re listening to the Book Owl Podcast, the podcast where I entertain your inner book nerd with tales of quirky books and literary lore.
So it’s Episode 25. And you’re now saying, so what. Well, right about a year ago (give or take a few day) I released the trailer for The Book Owl Podcast. Yep, it was my vocal debut…laaaa! I was as nervous as you can get without actually having heart failure. And before recording that trailer, and the first three or four episodes, if I’m being honest, I REALLY had to convince myself to get in front of the microphone. Now, recording is the part of putting these episodes together that I enjoy the most…cause I’m a big ol’ ham stuck in an introvert’s body.
And I can hear you saying, What is your point, you mad woman!? My point is The Book Owl Podcast is one year old. So Happy Birthday to the Book Owl!
As many people will do with milestone birthdays, the Book Owl is taking things to the extreme. No, not bungie jumping or parachuting…maybe I’ll save that for the 2nd birthday party. Instead, we’re looking at some extremes of book nerdy trivia. From the largest book to the oldest library, you’re going to have oodles of facts to annoy people with when we do ever get the chance to get together and are forced to make chit chat. You remember chitchat, right? Anyone? Anyone?
Starting Off With Thanks
But before we jump into the extremes of the book world, a triple round of thanks needs to be taken care of. First, I have to thank Ivonne for buying the Book Owl a cuppa as a way to show her support for the show. Ivonne is an Instagram buddy who I swear must be penpals with half the world. She creates some gorgeous letters, envelopes, and papery goodies I’d imagine must be a delight to get in the mail.
A second thanks goes yet again to Jonathon Pongratz for repeatedly sharing the show on his own Jaunts & Haunts blog. And a final bit of thanks goes to LaVelle who took the plunge and purchased some Book Owl swag. It looks like she got a few t-shirts with the Book Owl logo emblazoned across the front, so hopefully she’s enjoying those and sparking people’s curiosity about the show as she sports them around town.
Of course, if you like what you’re hearing, I’m just glad you’re listening, reviewing, and sharing, But if you are enjoying the show and want to lend the owl a little support, there’s loads of very inexpensive ways to do just that by popping into that Support link in the show notes..
Okay, let’s go to the extreme.
Defining a Book
So before we start this I’m going to put out a, I don’t know caveat, explanation, whatever. When I refer to “book” I mean an item made up of pages that is bound together and held in a cover of some sort.
There are some things that are considered “books” that are actually just a series of tablets, or scrolls, or whatnot, but for this show, a book is what likely immediately comes to mind when someone says book. Not a bookie, that is something entirely different… and something you might want to avoid.
The Oldest Book
So let’s start off with the oldest book out there. And that would be The Golden Orphism Book. Orphism was a religion in Ancient Greece and in Thracia, which is now Bulgaria, and the religion was based around the story of Orpheus, which is actually one of my favorite Greek myths, so cool. But rather than contain that heartbreaking myth, the book is more of a handbook that describes the burial rites of the religion.
The book is 2,670 years old and was only found 70 years ago during a dig in Bulgaria. And it’s pretty small, only 5 cm tall, which is about 2 inches, and weighs right around 100g, or about 3.5 ounces. But for its small size, it’s pretty eye catching as its six pages are made of entirely of gold, hence its other not-so-clever name The Etruscan Gold Book…and I thought I was bad at coming up with titles. But wait, what’s with that Etruscan bit? Well, it was written in Etruscan. Again, not so clever with the naming.
The Smallest Book
Okay, so at only a couple inches tall, that Etruscan book is kind of tiny, but it’s HUGE compared to the two smallest books in the world. And yeah, I had to cheat here and go with two because for some reason the book Teeny Ted from Turnip Town (great title, by the way) is touted as the smallest. It’s a mere 0.07 mm by 0.10 mm, that’s smaller than a poppy seed! It was created using nano imaging on 30 itty bitty sheets of silica. There were 100 copies made. But while you’re getting your copy, stop by the hardware store and grab a scanning electron microscope because that’s the only way you can read it.
Okay so that’s impressive, but a Russian man, Vladimir Aniskin, created, by hand mind you not with some fancy schmancy nano laser dohicky, a book that measures only .07 by .09 mm, making it 0.01mm smaller than the “smallest book”. So, I’m still confused as to why Teeny Ted is considered the smallest.
Anyway, Vladimir’s book is made on sheets of super thin film and the crazy part is he bound them with thin wire so you can actually turn the pages, if you have a special tool to do so. And again, you’re going to be glad you picked up that electron microscope because you’ll also need it to read this book, so be sure to add that in to your book-buying budget for the month.
Speaking of budgets, want to know what the most expensive book in the world is? Well, it’s a little tricky.
Okay, so let me explain…the most expensive book by purchase price was a copy of the Book of Mormon which sold for something like $34-ish million. The second priciest book at the auction house sold for nearly $31 million. And both of those were sold back in the 1990s. But due to adjusting for inflation and the perceived value of the work, that cheapo book is now ranked as the most expensive book in the world.
So what is this pricey book and who’s the luck owner? Well, it was bought by Bill Gates and is Leonardo da Vinci’a Codex Leicester, named for the Earl of Leicester who owned it before Mr. Microsoft. The book was created in 1506-1510 and is full of da Vinci’s notes on fossils, water flow, astronomy, it has sketches of various things from da Vinci’s imaginative mind, and is mostly written in his backwards, mirror handwriting. So it’s expensive sure, but at least buying a mirror to read it is cheaper than that electron microscope.
I like big books and I cannot lie? No? Well, if you can’t impress people with the most expensive book in the world, how about the biggest book in the world? This thing required all sorts of special equipment to put together and is even more impressive because it was entirely handmade using traditional bookbinding methods. It was written, illustrated, and put together in Hungary by Belga Varga. And I don’t know maybe this guy was really into large print books, but this thing is 4.2 m by 3.8 m, which is 14 by 12 feet; it weighs 1420 kg, or just over 3100 pounds; and six people and a special tool are required to turn the pages.
But don’t worry, it won’t take long to read, because it only has 346 pages. And I bet a lot of that is taken up with pictures since the book is all about the animals, plants, and geology of Begla’s small village.
But what will take you a long time to read is what’s been deemed the world’s longest book. This is the romantic tale Artaméne, ou le Grand Cyrus and was written in the 17th century by Madeline de Scudery who apparently had a lot of time on her hands. It’s so long it couldn’t be bound into a single book, and was instead put into 10 volumes of romance novel splendor…no word on if Fabio was on any off the covers.
Okay, so how big is it? It’s a whopping 2.1 million words. To put that into perspective, the average novel these days is about 60 to 80,000 words, and the massive tome War & Peace is about 550,000 words.
So, are you ready to tackle it? Well, you’re in luck because Artaméne is in the public domain. But fair warning before you dive in, it does only get a 2.9 star average on Goodreads.
So, let’s close the books and take a look at extreme places to get some books. And just as we started with the world’s oldest book, let’s start with the world’s oldest library. Or let’s try to because again I am a little confused on this bit of trivia.
So, the place that’s touted as the oldest library was started in 859 CE. It’s the al-Qarawiyyin Library (AL – CORE – OH – WEE- INN) and was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, who was the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant and she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University, so kudos to her! And I did practice that pronunciation with How to Pronounce dot com, so I hope I’ve got it close.
So Fatima’s library fell into disrepair and had to be shut down for a while except to certain scholars. Well, in 2012 a renovation project began, and the library was reopened to the public in 2017.
Okay, so 859 CE, that’s pretty old and like I said, it’s ranked as the oldest, but there is another library at the foot of Mt Sinai that was started around 550 CE and this is the Saint Catherine’s Monastery library and it’s been in continuous use ever since it began. So I’m still not sure why this one isn’t considered the oldest and I couldn’t find a concrete answer to that. Maybe because it’s not exactly a public library, and it’s more of a religious library? I don’t know. So if you happen to know why, please let me know because it’s really bugging me.
Anyway, St. Catherine’s is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it does have the second largest collection of ancient manuscripts, the library in Vatican City has the largest…hey, another extreme and I didn’t even try!
I like big libraries and I cannot lie? Still no? Okay. Well, the battle for extremes continues because we’ve also got some contention for the largest library in the world. And by largest, I don’t mean by square footage, I mean by collection size.
Because according to the Wikipedia gurus, both the British Library and the Library of Congress have 170 million items in their collections. Although the British Library I think might be trying to squeeze a few more items in by listing their collection size at 170 to 200 million (you know, like they’re not sure…or more like they don’t want to concede to us pesky Americans.). Fair enough. Still, number funding or not, these collections are impressive because the next largest in the list is the Shanghai Library with a mere 59 million items. It’s like they’re not even tying to win. Sheesh.
And finally we come to our last extreme…the world’s oldest bookstore. And after seeing this place, I really want to go there. It’s Betrand’s Bookstore located in Lisbon, Portugal. And it opened its doors in 1732. Unfortunately, the bookstore itself doesn’t date to 1732 it was toppled in a massive earthquake in 1755. But fear not, the bookstore was rebuilt soon after the earthquake an so can still claim it’s status as oldest. Hoorah for you Betrand’s and some day when I can travel again, I will be browsing your aisles.
So that’s it for extremes, except now the Book Owl is wondering where the largest birthday cake might be. So while the baker’s get the ovens ready, how about a few updates?
I am very very very happy to say that the worst is over in my writing world. For now anyway.
I just wrapped up the final big edit on the third Cassie Black book, which means the hardest work for the trilogy is done. I’ll still be doing another proofread of book two and possibly give book three one or two more passes, but these really are just going to be proofreading and making teeny tiny tweaks to the language. Which is good because my red pen is nearly out of ink after the last blast of edits I did on both books earlier this month.
And that was a bit of misery. I read book two and edited it one week, mostly minor edits, but still time consuming. Then the following week I read and edited book three, and that was a pretty big edit going over my own changes and suggestions from my beta readers. And seriously, I hate my own words at this point. But at the end of that second week, I felt a ginormous amount of relief.
As I’ve said before, I have had more fun than ever writing the trilogy, but the pace to get these last two books done and ready for my review team and for publication has been insane.
Speaking of review teams, if you want to join mine, there is a link in the show notes to apply. It’s a quick and easy application, but if you like to review books and if you want to see my stuff before anyone else, I’d encourage you to check it out.
Okay my book loving friends, that is it for this birthday bonanza. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, please please please share it with one other person, leave a review, or pop into that link to show your support. Have a great couple weeks and I will hoot at you next time.
The book owl podcast is a production of daisy dog media, copyright 2021, all rights reserved. The theme music was composed by Kevin Macleod. Audio processing by auphonic .com. Video production by Headliner dot app.