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41. Signs and Wonders - Book


Old English boc "book, writing, written document," generally referred (despite phonetic difficulties) to Proto-Germanic *bokiz "beech" (source also of German Buch "book" Buche "beech;" the notion being of beechwood tablets on which runes were inscribed; but it may be from the tree itself (people still carve initials in them). Latin and Sanskrit also have words for "writing" that are based on tree names ("birch" and "ash," respectively). And compare French livre "book," from Latin librum, originally "the inner bark of trees"

The use of books or written charters was introduced in Anglo-Saxon times by the ecclesiastics, as affording more permanent and satisfactory evidence of a grant or conveyance of land than the symbolical or actual delivery of possession before witnesses, which was the method then in vogue.

The Old English word originally meant any written document. The sense gradually narrowed by early Middle English to "a written work covering many pages fastened together and bound," also "a literary composition" in any form, of however many volumes. Later also "bound pages," whether written on or not. In 19c. it also could mean "a magazine;" in 20c. a telephone directory. From c. 1200 as "a main subdivision of a larger work." Meaning "libretto of an opera" is from 1768. A betting book "record of bets made" is from 1812. Meaning "sum of criminal charges" is from 1926, hence slang phrase throw the book at (1932). Book of Life "the roll of those chosen for eternal life" is from mid-14c. Book of the month is from 1933. To do something by the book "according to the rules" is from 1590s.

Woman in the Second hand Bookshop

The woman in the second hand bookshop

says she would rather be home by the fire

with a good novel than here, where

I can't find anything amongst her scores

of overpriced and overblown paperbacks.

Her last customers - a couple from

the Gold Coast buying armfuls of time off,

from having to read in the other's face

each of their private and cold silences-

with him complaining of the lack of sun.

She says 'Some people have all the luck'

but cannot read between their lines.

Only her conversation holds me here

like a bad embossed back-cover blurb.

'You know it will be dark by four o'clock.'

The shop is over lit and over warm;

outside the rain is a glass-bead curtain

to the doorway, early car and street lights

jewel with every conceivable colour.

And I turn my back on her intractable

shelves in one of those rare moments

where walking out of the shop

is not merely the first step in going home,

but the possibility of weaving ordinariness

into a plot I have paid nothing for

but have dug deeply after-

merely a few words like steps

onto the wet footpath into a poem.

Jeff Guess


11 Random facts about books that are weirdly interesting.

There’s nothing better than cuddling up with a good book. Books inherently offer solitude and a temporary escape from your own story. They’re basically magic. Avid readers usually have a long history with books that often either started in the womb or shortly after — thanks to parents and their incessant desire to enrich your brain. So it’s no surprise that you (and so many others) are at your happiest when you’re reading. Even though you might be a full-fledged reading pro and know everything about all the books you’ve ever read, chances are you don’t know all the things about actual books. Surprisingly, there are tons of random facts about books that are super interesting.

And since you obviously love reading and learning things, we decided to round up some of the most interesting facts about books so you can know a little bit more about the thing you love most.


There are over 129 million books in existence.

According to Google, 129,864,880 million books had been published as of 2010. That number is obviously a lot higher now. So when you say out loud “Ugh, can’t find a good book to read,” know that you have a lot to choose from.


The most expensive book ever purchased was sold for $30.8 million.

It was Codex Leicester by Leonardo Da Vinci, and it was purchased by Bill Gates, according to Business Insider. Don’t worry though, he probably made the money back within the hour.


There’s a word for loving the smell of old books.

You guys, you know you love the smell of old books. They have the aroma of dust and a whole lot of history. Well now you can call it something. “Bibliosmia” is the word you’ve probably been searching for your whole life.


The longest sentence ever printed is 823 words.

We have a feeling it’s probably a run-on, but it’s a legit sentence that exists in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, according to Barnes and Noble.


Author’s names didn’t used to be printed on the covers of their books.

The covers of the first printed books were considered artworks. They were covered in drawings, leather and even gold — so there wasn’t a place for the author’s name.


The first book ever written using a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Mark Twain must have had a lot of ink and a lot of patience.


President Theodore Roosevelt read one book per day.

Now that’s dedication to reading.


The three most read books in the world are…

The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter.


Icelandic people read more than anyone.

Perhaps it has to do with the weather, or maybe they’re just taught to really love books. Either way, Iceland for the win!


Alice in Wonderland is based on a real 10-year-old girl.

Her name was Alice Liddell, and her family was close friends with author Lewis Carroll. While on a boating trip, she asked him to tell her a story — and that’s how Alice was born.


Illiteracy is still a huge problem throughout the world.

One in five adults around the world can’t read or write, with the highest rates in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Jill Layton


Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love; And thou, thrice-crowned Queen of Night, survey With thy chaste eye, from thy pale sphere above, Thy huntress' name that my full life doth sway. O Rosalind! these trees shall be my books, And in their barks my thoughts I'll character, That every eye which in this forest looks Shall see thy virtue witness'd every where. Run, run, Orlando; carve on every tree, The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she. Exit

As You Like It - Act 3: 2


The day is almost over, and the evening has come; let us pray with one heart and mind.

As our evening prayer rises before you, O God, so may your Spirit come down upon us to set us free to sing your praise for ever and ever.


The Book of Common Prayer

©Jeff Guess 2017

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