Friday, August 26, 2022

Interesting Literary Factoids For Writers & Readers


I had been meaning to get to a book that I bought at least six months ago -- Mental Floss The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels & Novelists. I’m so glad I pulled this one off of my at-capacity bookshelf. It has so many yummy, chewable nuggets of factoids that feel like Snapple Facts times 100. 

In case you don’t have time to read it, let me share with you some of the things that I found of interest: 

  • Did you know George Orwell died just seven months after 1984 was published? He died January 21, 1949 from tuberculosis.  
  • Fyodor Dostoyovsky, most famous for penning Crime & Punishment, had epilepsy. He and other writers were arrested for suspected revolutionary activity. He was sentenced to death but ended up serving five years in a Siberion prison camp and then six years in exile.  
  • Mary Shelly wrote what is widely considered the first science-fiction novel, Frankenstein. She wrote it as a teenager while married to a famous poet, Percy Shelley. It was published in 1818 when she was all of 20.  
  • Lolita, a controversial book about inappropriate lust and statutory rape, almost didn’t get published. One editor at a publisher rejected it, saying: “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” 
  • Famous writer Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal negatively of contemporary author James Joyce, calling Ulysses “An illiterate, underbred book. It seems to be the book of a self-taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking, and ultimately nauseating.” 
  • There were famous author feuds – Gore Vidal vs. Norman Mailer, Joseph Conrad vs. DH Lawrence, Henry James vs. H.G Wells, and Ernest Hemingway vs. Gertrude Stein. 
  • Agatha Christine’s mom didn’t want her to read until she was eight. She was concerned about her eyes and brain development, But the famous author of Murder On The Orient Express taught herself to read by age four on the sly. She had little formal education until the age 15.  
  • Kurt Vonnegut met his future wife in kindergarten.  
  • Kurt Vonnegut said: “No one works well eight hours a day. No one ought to work more than four hours.” 
  • D.H Lawrence said: “I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts, or my thoughts are the result of my dreams.” 
  • Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes, holds the Guinness Book of World Record for “the most portrayed human literary character” in television and film, with more than 254 depictions.” 
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” 
  • Ernest Hemingway, who almost died in two consecutive plane crashes, once said: “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” 
  • Some famous books were originally self-published, including A Christmas Carol, The Martian, Celestine Prophecy, Fifty Shades Of Gray, and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. 
  • Virginia Woolf said: “Nothing has really happened until it has been described.” 
  • Abibliophobia describes those who are afflicted with a fear of running out of things to read. But one who is a bibliobibuli is one who reads too much and is constantly drunk on books.  
  • Stephen King pulled one of his books from circulation. Writing under another name Richard Bachman, he penned Rage, about a high school teen who kills his teacher and takes the algebra class hostage By 1997, at least three kids had brought weapons to school and killed or injured classmates and said they read his book.  
  • Encyclopedia Britannica last published a printed set of encyclopedias in 2012. The 129-pound books that cost $1,395 only sold 8,000 sets that year. In 1990, they sold 120,000 sets.  

If you want to spend hours more to read about other famous books and writers, get a copy of the book. 



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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:



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