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The Literary Man – A Library-Style Hotel with a Collection of Over 50,000 Books

If you ever decide to visit the medieval village of Obidos, in Portugal, you needn’t bother bringing a book to pass the time. Just book a stay at The Literary Man hotel and you can choose from its collection of over 50,000 books.

Established in 2015, The Literary Man has already become famous as the world’s best hotel for book lovers. It features a constantly growing collection of literary works, most of which are written in English. Books can be found virtually everywhere inside The Literary Man, lining the walls of its massive lounge, on the bed stands of its 30 bedrooms, at the in-house gin bar, and even in its old wine cellar. The over 50,000 literary works cover a variety of genres, from novels and poetry to cookbooks.

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Afghan Teacher Turns His Bicycle into a Mobile Library to Give Isolated Children a Chance to Read

In a nation ravaged by war, where children have little to no access to quality literature, a school teacher is trying his best to make a difference. Saber Hosseini, who teaches children in the city of Bamiyan, central Afghanistan, has converted his bicycle into a mobile library which he rides to remote villages.

“I came up with the idea for this project six months ago. I talked about it to friends in literary circles, who donated money and got some of their friends abroad to donate as well. I started alone with 200 storybooks for kids, and started riding to remote villages throughout Bamiyan province. Soon, I recruited more volunteers – now there are 20 of us, and we have a collection of about 6,000 books.” Most of these books are imported from Iran.

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This Japanese Bookstore Only Stocks One Book at a Time

Japanese bookseller Yoshiyuki Morioka has come up with a highly unusual concept for a bookstore – he sells one book at a time in a tiny shop located in Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury shopping district. Ever since he launched the store in May, he has stocked multiple copies of only one title per week. 

You might argue that it’s hardly a bookstore if you can’t go in and spend at least a few hours browsing through hundreds of volumes, but Morioka never intended to create a classic bookstore. It’s like a weekly ‘suggested reading’ service – you just go in and pick up the book chosen for the week, relieving yourself of the burden of choice. Morioka said he came up with the idea a store that solely focused on one book at a time after organising several book-launch events at his old bookstore.

“Before opening this bookstore in Ginza, I had been running another one in Kayabacho for 10 years,” Morioka told The Guardian. “There, I had around 200 books as stock, and used to organise several book launches per year. During such events, a lot of people visited the store for the sake of a single book. As I experienced this for some time, I started to believe that perhaps with only one book, a bookstore could be managed.” To finance the store, Morioka sold his huge collection of Japanese wartime propaganda, famous for the quirky, strong graphics.

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French Homeless Man Becomes Bestselling Author after Writing Book on Being Homeless

After being homeless for nearly three decades, Jean-Marie Roughol’s life is about to change for the better. The 47-year-old’s memoirs about begging on the streets of Paris has become a national bestseller this holiday season, selling nearly 50,000 copies and earning him cult status.

The 176-page book, titled Je tape la manche: Une vie dans la rue (My Life as a Panhandler: A Life on the Streets), tells Roughol’s story from his rough childhood to winding up on the streets of Paris. He recalls how he was abandoned by his mother and brought up by an alcoholic father, ending up on the streets in his early twenties after losing his job as a waiter.

Roughol started writing the book two years ago, sitting on park benches, making notes in school exercise books. He got help with writing and editing from a long-time friend, former French Minister of Interion, Jean-Louis Debré. The two met many years ago when Roughol offered to look after Debre’s bicycle as he shopped on the Champs-Élysées, a sweet tale that is also included in the book. He compares meeting Debré to winning the lottery.

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Staffless Pay-What-You-Will Bookstore in China Actually Works

A peculiar outdoor bookstore recently opened in Nanjing, China. There is no cashier desk and no working staff to keep an eye on the books. Instead, visitors are invited to peruse the reading material on offer and pay whatever they want for books by dropping the money in a lock-box.

Organizers say the aptly named Honesty Bookstore is a social experiment meant to raise awareness of honesty and integrity. Believe it or not, so far, people have been doing the right thing. With no staff around, there is absolutely nothing stopping people from just taking the books they like and leaving without paying anything for them. Well, nothing but their conscience, that is. According to several news reports from China, people have actually been dropping money inside the box of their own free will, and Honesty Bookstore organizers claim that the raised money is enough to cover costs.

Honesty-Bookstore

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Atheist Making over $100,000 a Year Selling Bibles Says He Feels Bad about It but Money Is Too Good to Stop

Lots of people sell products they don’t believe in, but in Trevor McKendrick’s case, you just can’t ignore the irony. That’s because Trevor is an atheist who sells Bibles for a living – and something just doesn’t feel right about that, even to him!

Interestingly, Trevor did not consciously choose his profession – it sort of fell into his lap by accident. He happened to be out at a dinner with his family in February 2012, when he found out that a relative was making $8,000 to $10,000 a month just by selling iPhone apps.

Trevor found the prospects too good to ignore, so he decided to step into the app business himself. All he wanted to do was to make about $600 a month, which would have been enough to cover his rent. So he went on to the Apple store to find an app that was making a lot of money, but “sucked”.

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Artists Create Book Cover That Refuses to Open for Judgmental Readers

While the age-old idiom tells us not to judge a book by its cover, this high-tech book-cover is designed to do the judging instead. Created by a group of artists at Amsterdam creative studio Moore, the book-sleeve has the ability to scan faces for prejudice. If it detects even the slightest hint of judgement, the book will simply refuse to open.

Aptly named ‘The Cover that Judges You’, the sleeve comes with an integrated camera at the top and facial-recognition software that scans the faces of people who approach it. “Our aim was to create a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech,” artist Thijs Biersteker said. “If you approach the book, the face-recognition system picks up your face and starts scanning it for signs of judgement.”

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Author Launches $300,000 Book That Self-Destructs in 24 Hours

Have you ever read a book so engaging that you just couldn’t put it down, fearing that it might explode if you did? Well, bestselling author James Patterson decided to turn that fear into a reality with a self-destructing book that literally explodes 24 hours after it’s been opened.

The self-destructing book is actually a marketing scheme to promote Patterson’s newly released novel, Private Vegas. The unique book comes with a hefty price tag of $294,038, but includes a first-class ticket to an undisclosed location, two nights’ stay in a luxury hotel, 14-karat gold-plated binoculars and a five-course dinner with the author.

The promotional video for this one-of-a-kind book is really quite hilarious. “Welcome to an experience that will blow your mind,” its protagonist says. “Hopefully not literally.” It describes the feeling of reading the book as ‘the most thrilling experience money can buy, created by James Patterson’. Although it doesn’t clarify exactly how the book will explode once the time is up, the experience will involve a bomb squad for safety purposes.

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French Author Rewrites the Bible as a Novel

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

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.

pavement-bookworm

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

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

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

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

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

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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