French Author Rewrites the Bible as a Novel

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In a bid to deliver the tales of the Bible to all the cultures and religions of the world, French author Philippe Lechermeier has given the ancient text a makeover – he’s rewritten it as a fictional novel! He describes the book as a ‘spirit of cultural transmission without a religious message of faith or prayer’.

“For me this text stands for the common good,” the 46-year-old said. “Its sphere of influence could go well beyond religious boundaries. Its impact on our language, our psychology, our aesthetic, our morality is still very powerful.” He revealed that he grew up listening to his grandmother’s personalised versions of Biblical narratives, and this inspired him to transform stories in his own way.

Philippe, who happens to be an atheist, described the Old Testament as a ‘poorly written text from a literary point of view’. “When my children were small, I was trying to read them passages from the Bible. But it bothered them, especially because there are redundancies and inconsistencies.” So he wanted to make the Holy Book more accessible through good writing and elegant style that emphasize the depth of the characters.

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South African Homeless Man Refuses to Beg, Makes a Living by Selling Books on the Pavement

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Philani Dladla, a homeless man living on the streets of Johannesburg, is probably the last person you’d expect to be a bookworm. Yet, the 24-year-old is quite a voracious reader. And instead of begging like other homeless people, he has chosen to make a living by reviewing and selling books.

South African director and cinematographer Tebogo Malope played a tremendous part in bringing Philani’s unique and inspiring story to the world. Malope, 29, recorded an interview with Philani called the ‘Pavement Bookworm’; the videos have gone viral since he put them up online last year.

The two-part interview features Philani speaking about the books he has read and why he likes them – the man is so full of infectious joy as he discusses his love of reading. His sense of passion and appreciation of books is extremely rare, especially for someone who leads a difficult life. Philani seems unfazed by his own living conditions, he only wants to tell the world how great it is to read.

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The Voynich Manuscript, Also Known as World’s Most Mysterious Book

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Featuring rudimentary depictions of plants illustrated in aged colors and written in a language system that has yet to be deciphered, The Voynich Manuscript is the world’s most mysterious book.

In order to pay for the restoration of their college, the Italian Jesuits of Villa Mondragone gave Wilfrid Voynich, an antique book dealer, an old manuscript written in an odd language that no one was able to identify or understand. With this valuable acquisition, Voynich also received a list of its ownership history dating back to the 17th century, which made the book even more impressive. Its description read: “The codex belonged to Emperor Rudolph II of Germany (1576-1612) who purchased it for 600 gold ducats and believed that it was the work of Roger Bacon. It is very likely that Emperor Rudolph acquired the manuscript from the English astrologer John Dee (1527-1608). Dee apparently owned the manuscript along with a number of other Roger Bacon manuscripts”. The book remained in Voynich’s possession from 1912 to 1969, before being added to the collection at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Apart from the undecipherable text, Voynich’s manuscript contains colorful botanical illustrations which are very similar to what we know from modern science, but which do not entirely resemble any distinguishable plant. There are also other cosmological and astrological depictions, as well as some drawings of naked women bathing together in small receptacles. This has led some scientists to believe that the book is sectioned into several chapters including: botanical, astrological, medical, biological, cosmological and pharmaceutical.  Despite several attempts to decipher the manuscript, the meaning of the text itself or the the lovely naked ladies remain a mystery to this day.

Voynich-manuscript

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The Blood Qur’an – A Holy Book Written with the Blood of Saddam Hussein

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We’ve heard of fanatical lovers writing letters to their beloved in blood. But Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein took this practice to a new level. In the late 1990s, he commissioned a calligrapher to make a copy of the Qur’an, using his own blood as ink. For the project, Saddam donated 7 gallons (27 liters) of blood over the course of two years – the time it took for the book to be completed. The book still exists, and no one knows what to do with it.

For now, Saddam’s blood-inscribed Qur’an is being kept behind locked doors in Baghdad. The unusual book is both sacred and profane, so officials are quite unsure as to how to deal with it. Islamic clerics are confused over the decision to either destroy the book or preserve it as a reminder of the dictator’s brutality. It is most likely that Saddam was quite aware of the controversy his project would spew, given the taboos in Islamic culture over human bodily fluids, but he went ahead with it anyway. His intentions were clear – he had said that the book was his tribute to God because his son had survived an assassination attempt. In the words of one Iraqi citizen, “On one flank had been the government, doing all it could to prevent access. The Shia-led regime is highly sensitive to the re-emergence of any symbols that might lionize the remnants of the Ba’athist rank and file, which still orchestrates bombings and assassinations every few days. And then there are the Sunnis themselves, who are fearful of government retribution if they open the doors and of divine disapproval if they treat this particularly gruesome volume of the Qur’an with the reverence of a holy book.”

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Woman Spends a Year Living According to the Bible

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31-year-old Rachel Held Evans has spent an entire year trying to follow of the Bible’s instructions for menstruating women, from “submitting” to their husbands to removing themselves from the community. Now she’s launching a book on her religious experiment, called “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”.

The Tennessee-based evangelical blogger set out to obey the Bible’s strict rules for women on their period, from Leviticus Chapters 15 to 18. In case you didn’t know, the Holy Book sets a strict set of rules for women, some explicit, others implied, and Evans tried to obey most of them as precisely as possible. During the 12-month-long experience, she stayed home from church, made her own clothes, abstained from sex and even touching her husband, let her hair grow, slept in a tent once a month, and even carried a  seat cushion with her wherever she went to avoid sitting on chairs outside her home. It might sound funny, even kooky, but  through her experiment Rachel tries to make a serious point: all Christians choose to respect those parts of the Bible that suit them.

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Clever Experiment Proves We Do Judge Books by Their Covers

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Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, hosts of the NSFW Podcast, managed to push their $0.99 e-book to the #4 position on iTunes, without having to write a single word. How did they do it? Easy, they included lots and lots of sex.

You’ve probably heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic novel that took the world by storm a few months back. At one point it was all everyone was talking about, although not all critics were impressed with the quality of writing. Still, it became a bestseller and managed to drag other erotic literature to the top with it, whether it was good or bad. Brian Brushwood, one of the hosts of the NSFW Podcast noticed this trend while he was trying to push his book on magic tricks, Scam School Book 2: Fire. Looking at the iTunes chart he discovered the top 10 was all erotic fiction. Even established contemporary writers couldn’t break into the top 10 because of all the erotic books that were capitalizing on the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. He thought “hey, we could do that”, and that’s how their clever experiment began.

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The Book That Can’t Wait Literally Disappears if You Put It Down

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An Indie Argentinian publishing house has come up with an innovative concept, using disappearing ink that simply fades away in two months time.

Dubbed “El Libro que No Puede Esperar” (The Book That Can’t Wait), this interesting format was pioneered by independent Argentinian publishing house Eterna Cadencia, as a way to promote young authors, who “if people don’t read their first books, never make it to a second.” The intriguing books come sealed in a plastic wrapper, and once that is removed and the books cracked for the first time, the ink begins to age and in 60 days time readers are left with nothing but the covers and a bunch of blank pages. So if you want to get your money’s worth, you really can’t put one of these books down too often, after you’ve bought it.

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The Mind-Blowing Book Carvings of Alexander Korzer Robinson

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Bristol-based Alexander Korzer Robinson creates incredible works of art by carving discarded encyclopedias and literally exposing their inner beauty. Book carving is one of the fastest growing art forms of the moment, and artists like Alexander Korzer Robinson, Brian Dettmer and Guy Laramee are leading the movement.

Korzer Robinson carefully cuts into the pages of old encyclopedias, exposing a part of its illustrations, while removing others, to create narrative scenes that are truly unique. While the images seem like they’re somehow suspended in a series of layers inside the book sculptures, they are actually left in their original place. It’s the artist’s technique that makes it look like they were placed there by hand. As you can probably guess by looking at the artworks below, book carving is a delicate and time-consuming process, but the end results are absolutely mind-blowing.

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This Norwegian Princess Can Teach You How to Talk to Angels

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A princess talking to angels – sounds like a chapter right out of a fairy-tale, doesn’t it? Turns out it isn’t. Real-life Norwegian Princess Martha Louise can not only converse with the unearthly beings, but also teach you how to do it. Last Thursday saw the release of her second book on the subject, with co-author Elisabeth Nordeng. The book called ‘The Secrets of Angels,’ is a sequel to the 2009 ‘Discover Your Guardian Angel.’

According to the two women, angels are real and they do exist just for us. In fact, the angels supposedly want to be in touch with us and help us, all we need to understand is how they operate and how they get in touch. Princess Martha Louise says that she realized her innate abilities to contact angels and read people’s inner feelings as a child. She is also trained in physical therapy and has always been interested in alternative forms of treatment.

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Incredible Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee

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Can’t find any use for those thick books lying around your house? Carve landscapes out of them! At least, that’s what Guy Laramee has been doing for some time now.

An interdisciplinary artist who has been practicing for 30 years now, Laramee has done several things in his lifetime, from stage writing to contemporary music, painting painting and literature. But the work he became most famous for is book sculpture. Rocky mountain ranges, bodies of water, islands and hidden caves, you name it,  he can bring it to life out of a book, in 3D. For instance, from a set of English and Chinese hardcover encyclopedias, he has created two series of stunning landscapes, named The Great Wall and Biblios.

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Baby Barbells Teaches Dads How to Use Babies as Gym Equipment

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Having a baby is a blessing, but taking care of a toddler is a full time job and hitting the gym on a regular basis gets pretty tough. Thankfully, Joshua Levitt’s book, Baby Barbells, teaches fathers how to spend time with their babies and stay fit at the same time.

Modern life makes it almost impossible for people to get everything done by doing one thing at a time, and for Joshua Levitt, a naturopathic physician, husband and father of three, going to the gym to do his works out was pretty much out of the question. Six months after his first baby was born, he realized that by trying to be a good father, husband and doctor,  he was neglecting his daily exercises; he was getting out of shape and he was feeling it. One day, after trying all the usual tricks to calm his baby daughter, he was lying down on his back and he began lifting her “baby up, baby down” and, apart from the fact that she appeared to enjoy it, Josh felt the burn in his triceps, and that’s when the idea for Baby Barbells was born.

It was multitasking at its finest, and thrilled, so thrilled by his discovery, Mr. Levitt began searching for other ways of incorporating fitness exercises in his fathering activities. He invented routines like Peek-a-boo Pop-ups, Lullaby Lunges or Tot Squats and included them all in a clever illustrated book called “Baby Barbells: The Dad’s Guide to Fitness and Fathering” that helps dads tone their muscles while interacting with their kids.

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The Book Stack Sculptures of Kylie Stillman

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Although relatively new, book carving has become on of the most popular art forms of our time, with masterpieces of acclaimed artist like Brian Dettmer or Long Bin-Chen exhibited in galleries around the world. Kylie Stillman cuts new life into old, outdated books, by sculpting them as slabs of stone and turning them and giving them a second chance as veritable works of art.

Using a scalpel, Stillman cuts right into the stack of books, creating beautiful inverted reliefs of trees and the birds that once inhabited them. Her works remind us where the paper for the books came from, by turning the thousands of pages into versions of their original tree form.

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Modern Tower of Babel Made of Books Appears in Buenos Aires

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Popular Argentine artist Marta Minujin has created a 25-meter-high spiraling Tower of Babel made from 30,000 books written in various languages.

This modern version of the Tower of Babel was designed in celebration of Buenos Aires’ designation as World Book Capital 2011, by UNESCO, and local authorities say it represents the ideas of pluralism and diversity which also characterize the Argentine capital city. This isn’t Minujin’s first experience with book installations; in 1983, when democracy was restored in Argentina, she built a replica of the Parthenon from books banned by the former military dictatorship.

The tower consists of a spiraling metal frame and around 30,000 books written in most of the world’s languages and dialects. You can find all kinds of books, from dictionaries and encyclopedias to software manuals and classic novels, arranged on six levels. The bottom level features a collection of books from around the world, the first and second levels are for American books, the third and fourth are reserved for Europe, the fifth for Africa and the sixth for Asia. 16,000 of the books were donated by 52 embassies in Buenos Aires, while the rest were provided by Argentine readers.

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The Mind-Blowing Book Carvings of Long Bin-Chen

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You’ve probably seen book carvings before, but Long Bin-Chen’s works are definitely in a league of their own.

Taiwanese artist Long Bin-Chen uses discarded old books to create incredibly detailed sculptures that look like they’re made of marble or wood. Although all his artworks are made out of several books, he carves them all in such a manner that they fit together in a seamless manner. While he could use any books he gets his hands on, Long Bin-Chen only uses those that are relevant to his sculptures. For example, for one of his Buddha heads, he used New York telephone books. This way, the head will represent a caring Buddha from the East who came to take care of the west.

Bought from trash collectors or collected directly from the streets, the books and magazines are first carved with a band or chain saw and then with a dental sander, for finer details.

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Book Desk Is the Perfect Piece of Library Furniture

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I don’t know no one has ever thought about making a desk out of recycled books, before, but having one in a library seems natural enough. The lovely book desk you see below is located in the TU Delft architecture bibliotheek, which is a library in the Dutch city of Delft. Made of what looks like thousands of recycled books, this incredible looking desk stays true to its origins as well as its purpose.

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