Book Stories

Some interesting or amusing stories about books...



This monastery in Egypt is home to the oldest continually operating library in the world, established in AD 565.

Oldest currently operating library

The library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai is the oldest currently operating in the world, and has the second largest collection of ancient manuscripts and codices, just after Vatican City.

It houses several unique texts, including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus, and the oldest known complete Bible dating back to around 345 CE. 
(Author: Marc Ryckaert).


 The M6 toll road in the UK was built on two and a half million copies of pulped fiction to prevent it from cracking.

The damaged and end-of-the-line Mills & Boon novels were shredded at a recycling firm in south Wales and later added to the paste. According to materials suppliers Tarmac, the pulp prevents cracks and helps absorb sound.
Tarmac spokesman Brian Kent said the company was not suggesting there was anything wrong with Mills & Boon novels.
"We use copies of Mills & Boon books, not as a statement about what we think of the writing, but because it is so absorbent.
They may be slushy to many people, but it's their 'no-slushiness' that is their attraction as far as we are concerned.
"We want to reassure Mills & Boon readers that we're not just picking on their favourite books - other books are down there too."  (BBC news Dec 2013)

M6 Toll Road, United Kingdom.


Oldest intact and dated printed book- A Chinese translation of the Buddhist text ‘The Diamond Sutra’.

        oldest printed book                                     Detail from Dunhuang block print
        Frontispiece of the Diamond Sutra book                                  Retouched detail from page of book       

 The Diamond Sutra is an ancient Buddhist sermon that generation of Buddhists have memorized and chanted since at least the fifth century. The sutra was originally written in Sanskrit in India, from which it was translated to Chinese in 401 AD. A copy of the Chinese translation, printed on an 18-feet-long, yellow-dyed scroll of paper, was discovered in 1900 by Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu inside a sealed-up cave at a site called “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas” near Dunhuang, in northwest China. The Diamond Sutra scroll was among more than 40,000 scrolls and documents hidden in the secret cave about a thousand years ago when the area was threatened by a neighbouring kingdom.

The last few lines of the text, the colophon, identifies who printed it, when and why. It reads: “Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents, 11 May 868.” The precise date makes this particular edition of Diamond Sutra the worlds’ oldest printed and dated book in existence. The explicit public domain dedication is also the first in the history of creative work.

This books was printed using wood block printing – a technique where the text to be printed is carefully carved as a relief pattern on a block of wood, and then stamped on paper or fabric after dipping the block in a pool of ink.

The dry desert air provided the perfect conditions for the preservation of the paper and the silk scrolls inside. The yellow dye used on the scrolls comes from the Amur Cork Tree which has insecticidal properties. This contributed to the preservation of the scrolls.
While individual sheets of woodblock-printed paper have been found dating to the early Tang Dynasty (7th century), the Diamond Sutra is the earliest complete book to be found intact.

(From Wikipedia)