Hi and welcome to the sixth (!) edition of What I’ve learnt from reading fiction, the series the hubby unwittingly instigated by daring to ask me what I had learnt from reading fiction. Well, the answer is: more than I ever realised I could! Here’s what I learnt from reading fiction in the last couple of months:
- There are various theories on how Coney Island got its name but one theory is that it stems from the Dutch ‘Konijn Island’, on account of the huge amount of wild rabbits on the island when the Dutch first set foot on it, which became ‘Coney Island’, coney being the archaic term for rabbit in English (A Girl Made of Air, Nydia Hetherington)
- I learnt about CCTV through books, and Stephen King reminded of the full name: closed-circuit TV. (Joyland, Stephen King)
- A synonym of canine (tooth) is eye tooth. (Every Little Breath, Kerri Beevis)
- Lye is used for coating pretzels. Although a corrosive material on its own, it becomes safe when heated above fifty degrees and it’s what gives pretzels their colour. Mind blown! (The Beresford, Will Carver)
- Cell memory (or body memory) is the hypothesis that memories can be stored in individual cells outside the brain and in cases of organ donors, that organs can somehow hold on to features of the original body and transfer these to the new body. (The Donor, Clare Mackintosh)
- Every year, throughout the 23rd of December, the National Radio of Iceland broadcast nothing but Christmas greetings, sent in from people all over the country. (Whiteout, Ragnar Jonassón)
- The deco in art deco is actually an abbreviation of the word decorations. It may be silly but I never realised that. (Creepers, David Morrell)
- Most victims in a bombing die from bleeding in the lungs because you tend to hold your breath but your lungs become like a pressurised balloon and rupture. (Rattle, Fiona Cummins)
- There is a condition nicknamed Stoneman syndrome, which is a rare skeletal dysplasia. The full name is fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva and it’s a severe, disabling disorder with no current cure or treatment. What it boils down to is that there a gene mutation which affects the body’s repair mechanism, causing fibrous tissue including muscle, tendons, and ligaments to be ossified, either spontaneously or when damaged as the result of trauma. Here’s a example from Get Well Soon, the actual photos absolutely gruesome. (Rattle, Fiona Cummins)
- I learnt a lot about the ballet world in general and Swan Lake in particular, and I learnt that the ballet dancer’s equivalent of break a leg is merde, which is French for shit. (I just thought the character was swearing 😳😂) Calling merde dates back to the ballet’s origins, when the more horse muck there was out on the street outside the Paris Opera House, the more carriages, and the larger the audience. (Watch Her Fall, Erin Kelly)
- Ants have two stomachs, one for food for themselves, one for food for the colony. I mean, in such a tiny animal, how is there even room?! (Invasive, Chuck Wendig)
- In the Second World War, there was a Japanese bio warfare unit that used disease-infected insects (mostly flies and mosquitos) to deliver pathogens to their Chinese adversaries. It was called Unit 731. (Invasive, Chuck Wendig)
- Spiders spin several different kinds of silk: for predatory capture, nest construction, parachuting, … I actually did not need to know that *shudders* (Invasive, Chuck Wendig)
- For some reason unbeknownst to me, I’ve always believed that the Poconos was some kind of tropical spot in the US, not a mountain range in Pennsylvania. (Survive the Night, Riley Sager)
- An oliphant is a hunting horn carved from the tusk of an elephant. I found this example dating back from 1000-1100 on the Victoria and Albert Museum website.
- One for the road. Read this:
FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE.
Now tell me how many F’s you count in that sentence.
Apparently the human brain thinks in images and it can’t come up with a suitable image for “of”, which means we tend to overlook it. So there are six F’s in the sentence above, but most people only count four. (The Soul Breaker, Sebastian Fitzek)
Well, that’s it for this time, but I’m sure I’ll be back! In the meantime feel free to check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. 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