Today is “National Book Lovers Day” and is a day for bibliophiles (a fancy name for book lovers) everywhere to celebrate their love of literature, reading and books. As an author and a self-professed lover of actual books with intriguing covers, paper pages and ink smells, I’m delighted that there is a day set aside to celebrate them!
The Gutenberg Bible which was printed in 1455, was the first major book that was printed. The printing press had been invented around 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg and this marked the entry of books into the modern age. Before the printing press, books were handwritten and copied by scribes for a price.
Most of the early printed books were published in Latin. As the printing industry grew and libraries were established, books were chained to shelves to keep them from being stolen. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you have probably seen books on the show that were chained to shelves and displayed horizontally standing on the edge opposite their spines since this is how books were shelved for hundreds of years.
According to the American Library Association website, (www.ala.org) there are 119,487 libraries of all kinds in the United States today. A sales report released by the Association of American Publishers on August 1, 2017, indicates that book publishers’ revenues ($2.33 billion for the first quarter of 2017) are up 4.9 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016. The book business is alive and well!
And in case you are wondering, the Bible is still the best-selling book of all time in the world with over five billion copies sold. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is followed closely by Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung also known as the Little Red Book, and then the Qur’an.
Here are the top ten best-selling non-religious books and the year they were published:
1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, 1605
2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1859
3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1954-1955
4. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, 1997 (Published in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1998.)
6. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937
7. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, 1939
8. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, 1754-1791
9. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1865
10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, 1950
I’ve read most of the books on this list and even read The Little Prince in French in either high school or college. I may still have my copy around here somewhere… My favorite books are not on the top ten list but I’ll share them with you anyway.
My favorite novel of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and I make a habit of rereading it every few years. My favorite non-fiction book is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. After I read it the first time, I bought it for everyone on my Christmas list that year. If you haven’t, you should.
The book that haunted me for weeks, maybe months after I read it, was Night by Elie Wiesel. It is a difficult read because of the subject matter even though it is not a long book…just 115 powerful pages. I think it should be required reading for every high school student.
Of course, my favorite children’s books would be The Button Box, Which Came First?, and the soon to be released, The Day the Turkey Came to School. For those of you who are waiting for the new book, it should be out in early September!
I hope you will find a few moments to read on this day to celebrate book lovers and reading and books. I wonder where I put my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird?
Author’s note: I’d love to hear your favorite book titles!