What I’ve learnt from reading fiction – part 4

Hi and welcome to the fourth edition of What I’ve learnt from reading fiction, previously known as What Books Have Taught Me, I think the new title make it a little bit clearer that these are little factoids I’ve learnt without ever even trying 😊 After all, I started doing these posts when the hubby dared to ask me what I had actually learnt from reading fiction (he has a lot less attitude now, lemme tell ya 😏😂). Check out part 1, part 2 and part 3.

So let’s have a look at what I’ve learnt:

  • Fatal familial insomnia is a rare illness that causes insomnia that gets worse over time. It is hereditary and cannot be cured. As the patient sleeps less and less, mind and body deteriorate until death follows. (The Bone Jar, S.W. Kane)
  • Deep Sleep Therapy was a psychiatric treatment in the 60s and 70s in which patients were administered sleeping drugs so they’d remain unconscious for days, or even weeks. In the meantime they’d also often get electroshock therapy. It was a controversial kind of treatment, resulting in the death of a number of patients. (The Bone Jar, S.W. Kane)
  • Fear of dogs is called cynophobia (The Last Wife, Karen Hamilton)
  • Rebecca syndrome: when the second wife or partner feels they can’t match up to the image of the first (The Last Wife, Karen Hamilton)
  • Kevlar is light! I know it may seem ridiculous but somehow I always thought that it was a heavy material, until a book told me I was wrong. (Wicked Game, Matt Johnson)
  • Bees are not always busy, some nap in a flower, holding each other’s feet. I didn’t believe it when I heard it so I looked it up, and I found this photo, isn’t it the cutest! This type of bee is called globe mallow bee (Diadasia diminuta) and they sleep in Globe Mallows. (His & Hers, Alice Feeney)
  • There was an American serial killer, Richard Chase, who was nicknamed “the vampire of Sacramento” because he drank his victims’ blood. (The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix)
  • The US state of Maine has thousands of coastal islands. (The Other Mrs, Mary Kubica)
  • Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder. I knew the term but I had never really grasped what it actually is and what it entails, because I’ve always heard it used in a rather flippant manner, like the person doesn’t want to speak, but they actually can’t speak in certain situations or to certain people, even if they want to. (Magpie Lane, Lucy Atkins)
  • Oxford College has its own terminology. Who knew?! Well, those who attended, probably, but I was amazed! I’ll never be able to remember all the words, but the one that made me pull a huh?! face was don. A don is a professor or a lecturer at Oxford, but I for one can’t get over the mafia sound of it. If you want to know more, I’ve found an actual list (click here) (Magpie Lane, Lucy Atkins)
  • Priest holes were hidey holes for Catholic priests in English houses during the Elizabethan era. As Catholic priests were persecuted during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, many Catholics had a priest hole built into their houses to hide a priest in the event of a house search. They were small spaces, crawling spaces, in attics, in walls, under floors, behind wardrobes, but not without danger, because if something happened to the owners of the house, the priest was stuck. (Magpie Lane, Lucy Atkins)
  • The ins and outs, history and layout of the Old Bailey. Such as the Dead Man’s Walk, a dark narrow tunnel which convicts were led through, leading up to the “birdcage” where they could catch their glimpse of sky and daylight until the gallows where they were hanged. Or that it was bombed and partly destroyed during World War II, and later rebuilt. (The First Lie, A.J. Park)
  • The ins and outs of a funeral home, including the embalming process by means of an embalming pump, pumping the liquid through a tube into the carotid. (The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone)
  • False spring is the equivalent of Indian summer, a short period of warmth before winter strikes back. I’ve experienced it, I just never knew it had a name. (The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone)
  • Cotard’s syndrome is a psychological disorder causing the patient to believe they are dead. (The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone)
  • Before Christianity, the Inuit didn’t have a burial culture, they’d just wrap the body in caribou hide, weigh it down with rocks and leave it on the ice somewhere. (The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone)
  • The Big Chill is an end-of-the-universe theory, with the universe getting colder and colder as it expands until it can’t sustain life anymore. (The Big Chill, Doug Johnstone)
  • I know a thing or two about autism, my master’s thesis consisted of terminological research of autism-related terminology and I spent the better part of two years reading everything and anything concerning autism. One thing I didn’t know and learnt through reading fiction is that there’s a rare disorder that is considered a form of low-functioning autism and the weird thing is, it appears later than autism and is much more debilitating than an autism disorder usually is. The child’s behaviour, development and skills set is perfectly normal until suddenly there’s this massive regression. This is called Childhood Disintegrative Disorder or Heller’s Syndrome. (The Perfect Wife, JP Delaney)
  • Azaleas, daffodil bulbs and tulip bulbs are toxic to dogs. (The Other Side of the Wall, Andrea Mara)
  • Shooting someone point-blank is actually shooting them from within one or two metres. Shooting someone in the face from inches away (which I always thought “point-blank” meant) is actually called a contact shot, and it leaves a distinctively patterned wound from the powder burns that spray the face. (Epiphany Jones, Michael Grothaus)
  • The sound of a gunshot comes from the gases that are released when shooting, it has nothing to do with the mechanics of the gun or the bullet. (Epiphany Jones, Michael Grothaus)
  • The Oscar statue is official called the Academy Award of Merit and it depicts a knight holding a sword standing on a reel of film with 5 spokes, which represent the original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, writers and technicians). They are made from a metal called britannium (copper and tin) and finished with a gold plating, except during WWII when they were made of plaster and then painted gold. (Epiphany Jones, Michael Grothaus)
  • I learnt about the life and work of L. Frank Baum and about The Wizard of Oz, both the book and the film. (Finding Dorothy, Elizabeth Letts)
  • I also learnt a new word (and what a pretty word it is): malingering, which is basically faking an illness. (Mr Nobody, Catherine Steadman)
  • There’s a condition called synaesthesia, connecting senses that aren’t normally connected, like hearing colours or seeing sounds, or seeing abstract things like numbers and months as people in your head. (The Minders, John Marrs)
  • When people were in mourning in the Victorian era, they’d cover the statues and mirrors in the house with a black cloth or netting and they’d remove all flowers. (The Quickening, Rhiannon Ward)

Well, that’s it for this time, but I’m sure I’ll be back! Do you feel you learn from the books you read? And if you do, do you consider it a nice little extra, or is it an prerequisite, do you read to learn?

Whatever your reasons for reading, I hope you have fun doing it, happy reading xxx

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