Mine, All Mine (…for the day)

It’s happened again! Our local second-hand bookshop owner has gone away and left me in charge for the day. Now I just have to try not to spend all my wages on the books! That bookshop owner knows what he’s doing hiring me 😀

Code Cracked to Oddest Book Ever!

BREAKING NEWS: Further to my article a few weeks ago about the Voynich Manuscript, otherwise known as The Oddest Book in the World, this has happened …

Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.

University of Bristol

Says Dr. Cheshire:

“I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.

“What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

To find out more about how he did it, and what he discovered, read the University of Bristol Article:

A Tatty Book is a Lovely Thing

I admit it, I’m a page-corner turner-overer*. I know this crime is almost equivalent to murder in the eyes of dedicated bookmark users, but I have my reasons.

Books are such tactile things; they feel good in your hands and all those wonderful words you are holding up have a pleasing weight. I like my books to feel like they are being read. The books I read over and over again know they are loved because the edges of their pages don’t lie flat, and the spines are flexible and crooked with affection. There might be the ring of a tea-mug stain on the cover. Or a red circle from a wine glass. The crevices might be crackly with sand where I’ve read on the beach, or the pages warped with water where I’ve read in the bath.

My favourite books have a physical personality all of their own and bear the scars of my love. (The one shown above is my copy of ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman.)

Which was why I felt truly happy to find Continue reading

Building up a History for ‘Foxfires’

When I’m writing a larger piece of work, one of the fun parts is the conjuring of odd snippets to add to the history or background of the story. Sometimes these snippets end up in the book (like the chapter headings in The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook and the petitions in Blackwood), and sometimes they initiate a complete change of direction.

This snippet will be part of the book ‘Foxfires’. The protagonist, trapped in a snowbound farmhouse with strangers, will come across the thin volume of curious tales with this particular page corner turned down. He is already in fear of his life, so this’ll really make him freak out. Hee hee! (Sorry Jack!)

‘Curious Tales from Travels in Yorkshire’ by M.Nesbitt

Chapter 8: A Disturbance at an Inn on the Edge of the Moors

“In the autumn of 1905, the author was passing through a village on the edge of Saddleworth Moor when he decided to rest and take refreshment at a small inn. At first glance, the inn seemed peaceful and emanated a warm glow from a lit fireplace but, upon entering, I was alarmed to find several weeping women and angry men. A number of the gentlemen were arming themselves as if for battle, though the distressed ladies pleaded with them to reconsider. They made no allowance for a stranger in their midst and continued with their heated discussion.

I asked the innkeeper if I could partake of a brandy as the weather was inclement, and it appeared winter was arriving before its time. He poured me my drink with one ear on the growing dispute behind me. I wondered out loud what was happening and he shook his head with a grimace and told me that Mr Hawkins, a young farmer, had not returned from tending his sheep in the hills. His sheepdog, Bess, came home without him and in a dreadful state, covered nose to tail in mud and bleeding from numerous lacerations. Clearly agitated, she set off again after just a few hours rest, presumably to find her master, and she had not come back. Continue reading

The Oddest Book in the World

Written by a philosopher, a mystic, a coven of witches, or a muddle of martians? We may never know…

Carbon-dated to 1420, this enigmatic 240 page creation seems to document a forgotten culture in an unrecognisable language with dream-like illustrations. Some of the world’s most prominent cryptologists have tried—and failed—to decode the text.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, the whole thing is available online.

Take a look at this short film about why the Voynich Manuscript is truly a really Odd Bit of Writing!
Continue reading

The Odd Disappearance of Violet D’Ath and New Zealand’s First Gothic Novel

whale

I’m currently working on a top secret, wonderful project and was deep into some research when something quite odd happened… I stumbled upon an obscure article referencing New Zealand’s first Gothic Novel ‘The Ice Station’, written in 1912 by Violet D’Ath.

The storyline sounded so good I immediately decided to find a copy and read it. But it wasn’t that easy, as you can probably tell by my title. Continue reading

An Excitement of Odd Books

FUN FACT : Not many people know that a collection of odd books is known as an ‘excitement’.

Here is today’s ‘excitement’. Stick any one of these on your bookshelf and you’ll never be without a conversation starter when guests come calling.

OddBooks

1. HOW TEA COSIES CHANGED THE WORLD

tea cosies

Though Tea is a Very Important Thing Indeed, I had no idea that tea cosies had actually changed the world, so this could be a real eye-opener. Was it really Helen of Troy’s fancy tea cosy that launched a thousand ships? Did Hitler decide to invade Poland because he thought they had better tea cosies? Maybe this odd book holds all the answers.

One reviewer, who gives the book 5 stars, declares:

“This book rocked my teapot!” Continue reading

The Sleeping Beauty Books

medieval-sleeping-beauty

In 2014, in a forest north of Oslo singing with birds and swaying with silent giants, one thousand Norwegian Spruce trees were planted. Every year that follows, for a hundred years, an author will be selected to gift an unpublished work which will be printed on paper made from these very spruce trees when they are fully-grown and felled in 2114. Until then the stories will sleep, undisturbed, not to be read by a single soul.

The ‘Future Library’ artwork is the brainchild of Katie Paterson, a woman who creates magic wherever she goes, mapping out dead stars and releasing meteorites back into space amongst other things. So far it holds stories by celebrated authors like Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell who will not live to see how their works are received.

To find out more, I highly recommend visiting this gorgeous website.