What I’ve learnt from reading fiction – part 7

Hi and welcome to the seventh 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:

  • After death a body will sometimes experience a spasm or a twitch or emit a gasp. This is called agonal respiration. (The Book of Accidents, Chuck Wendig)
  • When a new queen is born in a beehive, she slays all her rivals. She kills the unhatched ones and duels other hatched ones to the death. If the old queen is still in the hive, she will be killed too. (The Book of Accidents, Chuck Wendig)
  • Logorrhea is basically diarrhea of the mouth:  incessant or compulsive talkativeness. (A Kiss Before Dying, Ira Levin)
  • There are sharks that don’t have teeth, I had no idea! They are called basking sharks because they tend to feed at the surface, appearing to be basking in the warmer waters there. It’s the second-largest living shark and one of three plankton-eating shark species. (The Lighthouse Witches, C.J. Cooke)
Basking shark (source: Getty Images)
  • A limpet wears away a patch of rock to fit its shell exactly. A so-called home scar seals the shell to the rock and while the limpet will leave at night to feed it will always return to its home (scar). (The Lighthouse Witches, C.J. Cooke)
Limpets (source: Free Images)
  • Sphagnum moss is an antiseptic. It was used as such by the Celts for packing their wounds after battle, as well as by soldiers in WWI. (The Lighthouse Witches, C.J. Cooke)
  • I knew that bioluminescent organisms can cause water to shimmer and shine but I did not know that the phenomenon is called mareel. Sea sparkle is one of the organisms known to cause it. (The Lighthouse Witches, C.J. Cooke)
A long-exposure photo showing the mareel in the yacht port of Zeebrugge, Belgium
(© Hans Hillewaert)
  • I know absolutely nothing about chess, apart from what I’ve seen in The Queen’s Gambit, but now I also know that if a player touches a piece, they must make a move with it, unless they say j’adoube. (The Haunting Season – A Study in Black and White)
  • Horse chestnuts contain aesculin, a poison that can work as effective as chloroform if you know what to do with it. (The Chestnut Man, Søren Sveistrup)
  • When we dream, our subconscious can’t just create new faces out of nothing, which means that every person we see in our dreams is someone we’ve seen before, even if it’s just in passing. (Under the Whispering Door, T.J. Klune)
  • During WWII, the British gold reserves were transported to Canada for safekeeping. This was called Operation Fish. (The Twyford Code, Janice Hallett)
  • I’ve heard about people whose hair turns white almost overnight due to trauma but now I know it has a name: Marie Antoinette Syndrome, after the French queen whose hair apparently turned white the night before she was to be guillotined. (House of Hollow, Krystal Sutherland)
  • The iris can be absent from eyes, either from birth or as a consequence of an injury, this is called aniridia. (House of Hollow, Krystal Sutherland)
  • Carrion flowers smell like rotten flesh to attract flies and bugs. I did know about the Titan arum, which is a huge carrion flower, but I had no idea there were so many other flowers mimicking the smell of a decaying body. (House of Hollow, Krystal Sutherland)
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), in the Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens in Stuttgart (source: Lothar Grünz via Wikipedia)
  • Before C-sections were common practice, babies were sometimes removed from the uterus in order to save the mother, by performing a craniotomy, during which the baby’s skull was crushed, as well as whatever other body parts necessary, to extract the tiny body from the womb. That is just too sad and too gruesome. (The Way of All Flesh, Ambrose Parry)

Well, that’s it for this time, but I’m sure I’ll be back! In the meantime feel free to check out part 1part 2part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6. 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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