Random Facts About Books!

As of 2010, there are 129 million books in existence: Google had released the number of books existing in the world to be exactly 129,864,880. The amount of books now since a decade had passed must be larger. I can’t find a more recent number of books in the world which isn’t surprising since I don’t think anyone wants to count all of the books in the entirety of the world. But you never know how bored people can get 🙂

The most popular book genre at the moment is Romance: Book sales has exposed the fan-favorite of all genres being romance. This could be since there are a lot of subgenres to romance and can be combined with another genre in many other cases. Another one to mention here would be that the most popular romance trope at the moment is enemies-to-lovers. Everyone loves a little bit of tension, especially Booktok based on the books they recommend with their very heart and soul. They have also really turned the tide against friends-against-lovers and honestly, I would like to see them proceed.

Bill Gates bought the most expensive book, sold for 30.8 million dollars: Come on, this is Bill Gates we are talking about. He probably earns that type of money in 10 minutes. But anyway, the book he bought was by Leonardo Da Vinci called Codex Leicester. This book is basically a collection of scientific writings named after Thomas Cooke who became the Earl of Leicester. Bill Gates said he bought it to share the same wonder and curiosity that Leandro Da Vinci had himself. And it was done on the 500th anniversary of his death!

Like the smell of books? Well, there is a word for it now: Those who liked the smell of books are known to be called Bibliosmia. Finally, a word that can finally describe my thought process as I first lay eyes on a book I newly purchased. Hopefully, I am not alone in this. I;m probably not. But you never know.

The longest sentence ever written contained 823 words: Victor Hugo really wants to torture his readers by having them follow along with this long sentence. But nevertheless, this occurs in one of his more famous books Les Miserables. I don’t know in what scene or act (I haven’t read the book) but even if I did, I think I would have skipped that entire sentence.

Authors’ names weren’t written on the book cover at first: This may seem like a normal sentence but the reason behind why may shock some (It shocked me). Back in the days, only the wealthy could read and purchase books because they were educated. And because the book covers could have been made with leather and actual gold so they would be able to afford it. To be honest, if I ever get a golden book, I think I will still find a way to break the spine (I don’t want to, though)

Well, I have exhausted all of crazy book facts I know from my friend’s deep dive into random facts she researched during International Read a Book Day. She got most of them from this website: https://www.yahoo.com/news/11-random-facts-books-weirdly-192533509.html. Let me know in the comments if you guys know any random book facts that I didn’t mention.

-Saanvi V.

Magic Systems and How to Write Them

A Guide to Writing Magic Systems | The Fantasy Hive

Writing a fantasy novel is amazing because the possibilities are endless. However, sometimes it’s difficult to get your creative ideas on paper in a way which makes sense. This will go over a few common fantasy themes and give some ideas on how to approach descriptions.

Perhaps the most standout theme in fantasy novels is magic, but this can also be the hardest to explain. First, plan out some ideas of what magic your world will have. Will the magic be elemental, illusions, mind-control, telekinesis, or manifestations? The next thing to consider is how the magic system works. Are there wands involved? Perhaps the character can shoot out the magic through their hands, or maybe, the magic is contained within the character. Furthermore, will every person be able to use magic? Is magic something that can be learned, or is it genetic? Or maybe magic is only reserved for royalty. Adding rules and boundaries to magic will help make the novel more believable.

Once you have created your magic system, the second most important part is putting it into words. A common trope in fantasy novels is that magic is channeled, almost like working out. Characters will get fatigued, especially if the magic is particularly strong. This is a relatively easy way to write magic and can lead up to very suspenseful moments, like if a character is stuck in a dangerous situation and has to strain themselves to create one powerful spell. 

Another way to write magic is if it is channeled through an object. This could be a wand, crystals, tarot cards or any other object. In this case, you will want to spend some more time describing said object. One example could be if the object heats up or breaks under lots of stress or use. You could also use a combination of the two ideas. An example would be if a character can use magic without the object, but the potency of the spell is increased with it. 

Finally, here are some possible descriptions you can use in your fantasy novel. A boy is filled with rage. He feels as though flames are dancing under his skin, begging to be released. He complies, expelling the liquid flames outwards in a beam. A girl, standing a few feet away from said boy, throws her wand up in response. She clenches her eyes shut as she is hit with a blast of scorching air. But then, as suddenly as it appeared, the heat dissipated. A low hum was now audible in the air around her. She opens her eyes and notices a shimmering blue shield at the end of her wand. 

-Michelle L.

Writing Tips: How to Create A Main Character

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Purpose: This should be the first part to consider when you create your protagonist. The purpose is how the character creates the plot of the book. What is the character trying to accomplish? What obstacles is your protagonist facing and why are they doing it? These are things to consider before fleshing out your main character. The plot will help you decide what traits to give your character.

Personality: This is arguably the most important part of creating your character because this is what will make the reader either put down the book or continue reading. When giving your character personality traits, make sure to give them traits that are relevant to the story and further the plot. The protagonist’s personality should be relatable and realistic. Everybody wants to read about positive traits and unique skills, but they also want to see flaws. We all have flaws, and sometimes the flaws in protagonists help to advance the plot of the story. How about a knight who is extremely timid? Mixing stereotypes with unique flaws and traits is the ideal way to create your protagonist.

Physical Traits: While personality is most important, the physical traits of your main character can also help draw in readers. For example, this could be race, gender, or physique. Especially nowadays, there is a lot of diversity within books regarding gender and race. This broadens the audience and allows certain readers to connect deeper with your character. Gender plays an important role in modern books because typically, girls read more than boys (not to say boys don’t read or there aren’t amazing male protagonists.) Finally, the physique of your character is important for two reasons: it helps draw in certain groups of readers, and it should reflect your plot. A character who has to carry a broadsword and armor, should have muscle. A character who spends a lot of time inside with little sleep, should appear ghastly. These are all simple ideas that could help you with creating your protagonist. 

-Michelle L.

Writing Tips: Fantasy Worldbuilding

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Genre: The most important part when you begin writing a novel is picking a genre. Think of all your favorite books or movies and take inspiration from all of them. Is your novel going to be set in a medieval world? Space? A dystopian civilization? Apocalyptic world? Once you decide it will be a lot easier to write out a plot and the details of your world.

Setting: The second most important part of writing a fantasy novel is choosing the setting. Typically, most fantasy novels take influence from medieval Europe, but it doesn’t always have to be that. What does the environment look like? Is it set in a cold environment, hot environment, desert, space, mountains, coastline? All of these are factors to consider when creating your world.

Plot: Typically fantasy novels follow a plot where the main character has to go on an adventure or quest to complete a task. However, this plot can have a lot of variation and provide a unique story. Some ideas to consider when working out a plot are the tools you will use to advance your plot. This could be magic, a character with a very specific skill, or any other unique additions to your book. This could also be influenced by the setting, perhaps the world is set in a dystopian setting where there are tensions between the rulers and their citizens. Maybe the main character has to go on a quest to find something. The possibilities are endless.

Characters: People like to read about relatable characters. When creating a main character it’s important to make them believable. Many times, new writers create a character that only reflects positive traits, when in reality, everyone has negative traits they’re not proud of. Insecurities and mistakes in a character give the reader an emotional attachment to said character. When writing side characters, make sure they exist to further the plot. Also try to give them their own personality to engage the reader.

-Michelle L.

You’re Enough

“I’m sorry I’m not good enough. I’m sorry I can’t help you with your homework. I’m sorry I have an accent. I’m sorry I’m such an embarrassment.” Growing up, I heard my father utter these painful words as he looked tearfully into my eyes. But, even then, I wished I could make him see his true value in shaping me into the person I am today. 

I want my father to see himself as I see him: as a hero. I want my father to know that his scarred and callused hands are not merely the hands of a working-class man, but the hands of a selfless father who has given up everything for his children. The countless scars, cicatrixes, and wounds that decorate his hands are like shining medals in my eyes. Yes, my father came from an impoverished town in Mexico, never earned a college degree, and arrived in America with nothing but the clothes on his back; but in my eyes, he is a hero and his scars are his superpowers. His scars tell the story of a young boy who crossed the border illegally into an unknown land in which people spoke a foreign language. They tell the story of a boy who was forced to work in the fields at the age of seven, later abandoned by his parents at the age of eight. Most importantly, they remind me of my story and of my background. They remind me that just as my father wears his scars proudly, so must I. His scars are a physical representation of his dedication to our family. They remind me that just as he works tirelessly from morning to night to provide for our family, I must work to fulfill my dreams.

I wish I could make my father see that his white beat-up work truck is worth more than any Mercedez and that his tattered work clothes are more valuable than any luxury business suit. Because, in my eyes, his run-down truck and stained clothing tell a story, not of wealth and privilege, but of perseverance and incomparable strength. His scars, beaten truck, and tattered clothing are the reasons I have the opportunity to achieve my dream. They have given me insight into the value of hard work and inspire me to challenge myself daily. One day, I will make my father realize how valuable he truly is. For now, all I can do is hold his hand, look into his eyes, and say, “I promise, you’re enough.” 

-Yvette C.

Ode to the Beach Poem

Whenever I see you I am comforted,

By your magnificent waves that crash against the sand.

When I see you I think of the magical creatures that are swimming in your oceans,

As well as the trillions of rainbow-colored fish I see each time I snorkel in your waters.

Whenever I step foot onto your sand,

I feel the sand between my toes,

That feels like home.

You provide a sense of comfort whenever I come to you,

As well as everyone else like my family and friends.

You provide a gathering spot where people of all ages can socialize and have fun,

And play in the sun.

Your oceans are sparkling like big diamonds wherever I look at them,

Which provide perfect picture spots.

There is so much I can do when I come to you,

Like play with sand toys in the sand,

Which make great big sandcastles,

That causes friendly competition.

And I can play in the water,

Whenever I go in,

I feel like I am by myself,

And that time has stopped.

I will always love coming to you.

-Abby V.

How Can Peace Be Ensured In A Diverse Society?

Around the world, different cultures have struggled with maintaining an equilibrium between their ideas and beliefs. Many have broken apart, but some exceptional countries have managed to maintain a state of tranquility among their people. The United States is known as a country of immigrants, and it is a place where people of all backgrounds and cultures coexist in a way that has never been seen before. So, how can peace be ensured in a diverse society?

With the acceptance of surrounding differences, there can be harmony between distinct people. Patriotism is the pride in one’s country, and American patriotism is largely perceived as taking pride in being able to coexist with people who have different backgrounds. This means that the United States itself is a nation that is built on embracing the differences and unique qualities of others. It also means that accepting others allows Americans to acquire connections with each other, and in turn maintain tranquility in society. 

Trust and communications are essentials for a unified nation; therefore, common goals are an essential factor for ensuring peace. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln declares, “It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” Referring to the Union’s fallen soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln calls the Americans to action and implores them to continue their fight for the cause. This cause, equality for all, was the common goal which held Americans together during that difficult time. Their unity allowed them to have peace among themselves. 

A more recent example is depicted in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: one of the most devastating events in America’s history, but there was an abundance of help and support available for those who needed it. In other words, America was united with its common goals, establishing trust in each other and making it easier to communicate with each other despite any differences. A society with common goals, but not necessarily common beliefs and customs is a society which provides its community with a safe and peaceful environment.

From the Civil War to today, history is filled with conflicts between groups of people who have struggled to reconcile their differences. It is important to understand that peace can only be achieved through collective efforts, not by the pleas of a single person. However, the pleas of a single person can certainly spark a collective movement. In fact, it is up to courageous individuals to speak up and speak out for their dream (dream: sound familiar?) and inspire others to take a stand.

-Ayati M.

Alternate Ending for “The Landlady”

I recently read a short horror story called “The Landlady,” which was left on a cliffhanger. I decided to write an alternate ending for it! I would highly recommend that you read the original short story before reading the alternate ending. You can find the story at https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/landlady_text.pdf

Alternate Ending for “The Landlady”

Something, just something about this whole affair bothered Billy. He couldn’t quite place his finger on what it was, a stirring of the mind, a brief flash of thought. He attributed it, of course, to the heat of the room and the time of night. “I think I should like to go to bed now,” he said.

“Of course, dear,” cried the old lady, fussing over him, “I should think so!”
Billy sighed, stepping gingerly over the dachshund to make his way to the stairs. He turned back to look at the landlady. She had her back to him, serenely gazing into the dying embers of the fire, petting the dachshund, a cold, stiff travesty of a dog. Yes, something about this whole bloody business just wasn’t quite right. Shaking his head, he stumbled slowly up the stairs and into his room. He sat down heavily on the bed, still thinking. The fourth floor? The men were still here? But how? Eyes drooping, he fell straight to sleep, questions still echoing around his head.

3 a.m. the following morning
Billy started out of sleep, thrashing wildly about his bed like a trout out of water. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he looked blearily around the room. A quick check of the nightstand clock confirmed his suspicion that it was indeed very early in the morning. Just a minute! A voice was coming from the landing above his. It was a mere mumbling, but a voice nonetheless. It was a crooning, haunting tone that rose and fell eerily; yes, it was a voice as smooth as silk, yet as sharp as glass. Billy was wide awake now, no chance of ever falling asleep in this cursed house again! Pulling on his robe, he slowly pushed open the door to investigate.

He crept up the stairs, thoroughly examining his surroundings. He was on the third floor now. Looking about, he saw a small sewing machine, overflowing boxes of cloth, and shelves overflowing with a large variety of small bottles. The room itself smelled faintly of hospital disinfectant. Intrigued, Billy slowly stepped closer. A curious smell came from the flask closest to him. Reaching out, he pulled it from its place and gave it a cautious sniff. The flask reeked of bitter almonds and garlic. Covering his nose with his sleeve, Billy replaced the cask on its shelf and continued his trek.

Something wasn’t quite right. Billy was tripping now, stumbling and coughing. His vision doubled and his eyes watered. In front of him he saw the landlady, crooning gently to- to- he collapsed, the cold, dead face of Christopher Mulholland still swimming in his memory, mouth affixed in a plastic smile, ghastly and preserved.

The face of the landlady, cruel and hard, stared down at him. In the light, she looked a hundred years old, like the old Greek demons Billy had learned about in school. His head felt like a lump of stone. The woman leered down at him, spinning a scalpel expertly between her fingers. He rasped out one word. “Why?” The landlady’s lips turned down. She looked put out to see him awake. “Why, darling, I must keep you! You’ll wither away otherwise.” Billy coughed again, then screamed as a sharp pain sliced into his flesh, below his abdomen. As he floated in and out of consciousness, he heard the landlady singing. My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea, my Bonnie lies over the ocean. The landlady smiled cruelly as she pulled her final stitch. “Please bring back my Bonnie to me…”

I hope you enjoyed it!

-Vaidehi B.

“The House” Short Story

I strolled down the sidewalk on the sunny Thursday morning, lost in my thoughts and worries. Was I ever going to find a home that was perfect? I idly examined the mansion I found myself in front of. Manicured lawn, tall hedges hiding the home, marble fountain bubbling up on the walkway… “I could live with this,” I mumbled to myself. I peer through the hedges, trying to catch a glimpse of the house. Suddenly, two boys sauntered up the lawn in front of me, no more than three yards from me! I fervently prayed they wouldn’t notice me, and they didn’t. Breathing a sigh of relief, I strained my ears to hear what the taller of the pair was explaining to his squat friend. “Yeah, the house is nicer since Dad put the new stone siding and fireplace in…” Hmm… a fireplace? I listened closer, sneaking around to the back where I could hear the boys’ voices through the open kitchen window. Newly painted living room, nearest house a quarter mile away? “Lovely, lovely,” I thought. Damp and musty basement? Could get a discount for that… But new plumbing was an added plus. A den was rather unnecessary but perfect for a home theatre system. “Speakers, projector, screens..” Quite lost in my reverie, I came to when the boys were already upstairs! I put my ear to the wall, and was barely able to hear Tall’s voice over Squat’s rapid questions. Three upstairs bedrooms… Perfect for a study and a recreation room. I could hear Tall’s voice more clearly now. “The bathroom in the hall is mine, since Dad added one to my sisters’ room for them… yeah, this is a leak; the roof finally rotted…” A leak! That was worth a hefty price reduction… Grinning to myself, I decided that I had heard enough. As I ambled down the street, I imagined myself putting in an offer, one they wouldn’t be able to resist. How did I know so much about their house? Well, that was my little secret… 

Linwood Custom Homes Named Finalist in Six National Home ...

-Vaidehi B.

Original Story, Greek Myth Style – Kumar and Ram: The Creation of Sorrow

Greek mythology is the basis of modern literature, and the brilliant stories to explain natural phenomena are so captivating that I decided to attempt to write my own myth, similar in style to the Greek myths. The following story attempts to explain why there is sorrow in the world:

Kumar and Ram: The Creation of Sorrow

Long ago, the universe was ruled by its king, Raja, and its queen, Rani. Together, Raja and Rani managed the universe and created a scene so beautiful that not even the most talented artist could depict it. 

Raja and Rani had two sons: their eldest was named Kumar, who was a very obedient and smart child. Their younger son was named Ram, and he was much more mischievous and playful than his older brother. The two had spent their entire lives watching their parents create stars, circulate planets, and sometimes send asteroids into projects that would not turn out the way they wanted. 

One day, Raja and Rani thought that it would be a good training exercise for Kumar to try and manage his own planet, and they provided him with a medium sized planet orbiting a small star on the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. Kumar was elated, and instantly began to decorate his planet with stunning seas, mountains, beaches, and forests. He even created a cover of gases around the planet which would protect it from any asteroids gone astray. Proud of his work, he named his planet Earth.

Like any younger sibling, Ram had always competed with his older brother, and was extremely jealous when he saw what his parents had gifted Kumar. This envy quickly escalated as he observed Kumar taking delight in decorating his planet. 

Wanting to show his parents that he too was responsible enough to manage his own planet, Ram went to his older brother and asked if Kumar would share some of the planet with him. Kumar denied his request at first, but then changed his mind and gifted Ram a small block of clay from Earth. Kumar told Ram that he can create anything with this piece of clay, and Kumar would keep it on Earth. If the creation is both beautiful and successful, it would be a clear indicator that Ram is also ready to have his own planet. If the creation failed to impress, Kumar would destroy it. 

Elated, Ram quickly went to work. He used the clay to create a creature that looked similar to him; it walked on two legs, had two arms, and had a smiling face. He named it a human and went to show Kumar his creation.

Kumar was very amused by Ram’s human and placed it on a piece of land on his planet. Quite soon, the human started to multiply, and its clones were all over Earth. They became very smart and started to use the nature around them to their advantage. They cut down trees to use as shelter, and killed other animals. They even started to create their own inventions that would release a horrible black substance into the gas layer that Kumar had created.

Of course, Ram was delighted upon seeing the intelligence and efficiency of his humans, but Kumar was furious at the harm that his planet had suffered at the hands of the humans. He tried to get rid of them, but they were much too populated. So, Kumar used his power to curse as many humans as he could with negative qualities such as greed, evil, arrogance, and laziness. Kumar knew that this would be just as much of a punishment to Ram, and hoped that it would teach Ram a lesson. To this day, Ram is still paying his price as he watches the evil and sorrow of his once-beloved humans.

-Ayati M.