What is the Most Rejected Book of All Time?

alex atkins bookshelf books“Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When American educator Thomas Palmer wrote that in the Teacher’s Manual (1840), he was encouraging schoolchildren to finish their homework. But that same adage is perfectly true for aspiring writers who will receive their share of rejections slips from publishers and agents. Some of the greatest writers have received rejection slips: D. H. Lawrence, Herman Melville, Vladimir Nabokov, George Orwell, Marcel Proust, Kurt Vonnegut — to name just a few.

Of course, this discussion invites the question: what is the most rejected book of all time? Technically, that would be a book that has never been published — and there are thousands of those. But let’s limit the question to a book that was eventually published. According to the folks at LitHub, the author that holds the records for receiving the most rejections for a book is American science fiction writer Richard Samuel “Dick” Wimmer for Irish Wine (the first part of the Irish Wine Trilogy). He was 28 years old when he wrote it, but it took more than 25 years — and 162 rejections — until it was finally published in 1989 (by then, Wimmer was 53 years old).

In second place is Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Canfield’s manuscript received 144 rejections from publishers. Of course, the book became a phenomenal best-seller and launched a very lucrative brand and franchise. Dig this: the Chicken Soup books have sold more than 130 million copies. Responding to the sea of rejections he received, Canfield wrote: “If we had given up after 100 publishers, I likely would not be where I am now. I encourage you to reject rejection. If someone says no, just say ‘next!'”

Not far behind is Robert Pirsig’s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. That philosophical work received 121 rejections. Fortunately for Pirsig, he persevered, and the book went on to become a bestseller and cult classic, selling millions of copies. Who says success isn’t the best revenge?

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For further reading: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/23/local/la-me-dick-wimmer-20110523
https://www.facebook.com/JackCanfieldFan/posts/10153285514315669
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books


Signs at an Indie Bookstore: Why Not Try a Book?

alex atkins bookshelf booksIndie bookstores are owned by some of the most passionate bibliophiles you will ever meet. They love books and are thrilled if you come in and just take a look around to see their treasures. What makes some of these indie bookstores so unique is not just about how they display their books, but by the clever signs they place around the bookshelves — to encourage you to read or to promote literacy. Recently, I found this sign, entitled “Why Not Try a Book?” which makes a compelling case for why printed books are better than e-books. You be the judge.

Why Not Try a Book?

Infinite battery life

Page always loads

DRM free

Never loses your data

Immune to viruses

Compatible with all hands and eyes

Vibration and drop resistant

What else can we add to this list? Leave your suggestion in the comments.

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How Many Synonyms Are There for Drunk?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsThe English language has thousands of synonyms for “drunk.” Lexicographer, Stuart Flexner, in his book I Hear America Talking, believes that since people get drunk for various reasons, affecting them in different way, the English language has simply developed synonyms to reflect the wide gamut of feelings and reactions. The first to record all the colorful terms for drunkenness was Benjamin Franklin, who included 228 terms in the Drinker’s Dictionary published in 1737. Apparently the colonists were so prone to inebriation, they required their own dictionary to know what they should be called by their spouses and friends. Several other editors and writers created their own expanded lists over the years; however, lexicographer Paul Dickson, bested them all, when he set the Guinness Book of World Records for most synonyms for a word in 1983, listing 2,660 terms for drunkenness. Later in 2009, he published Drunk: the Definitive Drinker’s Dictionary in 2006, listing a staggering (pun intended) 2,964 synonyms for drunk. Word lovers throughout the world — even the priggish editors of the OED — celebrated by getting bombed, loaded, trashed, hammered, soused, buzzed, blottered, marinated, liquefied, wasted, smashed … You get the point.

In 2002, the BBC One’s Booze program asked its audience to submit euphemisms for “drunk.” They headed to their local pubs, got sufficiently sloshed, and then contributed more than 141 euphemisms for drunk. For example, here are their synonyms for “drunk” beginning with the letter B: badgered, banjaxed, battered, befuggered, bernard langered, bladdered, blasted, blathered, bleezin, blitzed, blootered, blottoed, bluttered, boogaloo, brahms & liszt, buckled, and burlin.

To that list, perhaps they should add “blue-eyed.” Seems that in 2017, researchers at the University of Vermont discovered this sobering fact: people with light-colored eyes (specifically, blue, green or gray) are more likely than those with dark eyes to have high rates of alcohol dependence. However, their study indicated that this relationship was correlational, not causal. That is to say, the researchers found a statistically significant interaction between the genes that determine eye color and genes associated with alcohol dependence — certainly a great topic for conversation among a group of inebriated folks hanging out at a bar.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Colorful Language of Roadside Diners
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For further reading: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1883481.stm
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/blue-eyes-alcoholic-light-colored-eyes_n_7705806.html
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170130-english-has-3000-words-for-being-drunk


The Man Who Launched 75,000 Libraries

alex atkins bookshelf booksOn October 18, 2018, Todd Bol, the founder of the Little Free Library, passed away at the age of 62 due to complications of pancreatic cancer. Margret Aldrich, a spokesperson for the Little Free Library organization said of Bol: “Todd created this beautiful, living, breathing movement of literary and community that resonated from that very first Little Free Library all the way to today. He was a true believer in the power of one person to make a difference. And he certainly did.”

The story of the Little Free Library begins in 2009. Bol was renovating the garage of his home. After removing an old wooden door, he realized that he didn’t want all that good wood to go to waste. He pondered about what he could do with the wood. That is when he was struck with an epiphany: why not build a tribute to his mother, who had been a schoolteacher? So he built a small replica of a schoolhouse (about two feet wide by two feet tall), filled it with about 20 books that his mother owned, attached the structure to a post, and planted it on his front lawn. The world was introduced to the first free book exchange, the first Little Free Library, based on the honor system: take a book, leave a book. Absolutely brilliant!

Bol had read the biography of Andrew Carnegie, the railroad and steel magnate, who as one of the country’s richest men wanted to give back to society by establishing 2,509 libraries. That legacy was in the back of his mind, when he established the Little Free Library nonprofit organization in 2010, hoping to inspire others to build a little library in their own neighborhoods. His initial dream was to inspire others in order to beat Carnegie’s record. Bol, with the assistance of some craftsmen, built some of them; but most were built by home owners who downloaded plans from the organization’s website. In just two years, there were more than 2,510 little libraries around the world. Fast forward to today, and Bol’s organization has inspired more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries throughout the United States (all 50 states) and in 88 countries. And what’s truly remarkable is that people get really creative with their libraries — they come in all shapes and sizes. You will find libraries that look like spaceships, barns, Victorian mansions, boxcars, robots, log cabins, cars, boats, trains, and even replicas of the houses of the builders.

So the next time you walk by or drive by a Little Free Library, think of Bol, the man who launched 75,000 libraries around the globe to share books and support literacy. Indeed, one person can make a difference.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

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For further reading: The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/obituaries/todd-bol-dead.html


Plato’s Warning: If You Don’t Vote, You Will be Governed by Idiots

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsPlato (427-347 BC) is considered one of the most brilliant and influential philosophers in history. Plato (his given name was Aristocles; Plato is his nickname, from platos, meaning “broad” since he had a broad physique and forehead.) was a student of Socrates and took what he learned to found the influential Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the West. Amidst a beautiful grove of olive trees, Plato taught some very fortunate and intelligent students (including Aristotle who later founded his own academy) philosophy, mathematics, politics, and astronomy. His most famous and influential work, that is still widely studied in universities, is the Republic, where Plato cover a broad (pun intended) range of significant topics: philosophy, ethics, moral psychology, epistemology, metaphysics, and of course, political philosophy. It is this last topic that concerns us today as we examine his views on political participation.

The quote that serves as the title of this post is actually a tongue-in-cheek variation (underscoring the importance of voting in a critical election) of the quote most often attributed to Plato, ubiquitous on the internet: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” There are many other variants of this famous quotation. Among them is this one crafted by poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson that appears in Society and Solitude (1870): “Plato says that the punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is, to live under the government of worse men.”

The source of all these variants is The Republic, (Book 1, 346-347), where Plato makes the point that if good, honorable, intelligent men do not to wish to serve in government, then they will be punished by being ruled by those who are bad, dishonorable, and dumb. The actual sentence is: But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. For those who are curious to partake of the entire discussion of the issue among Socrates (Plato, of course, is speaking through Socrates), Glaucon (Plato’s older brother), and Thrasymachus (a sophist who believes essentially that it does not pay to be just), here is the relevant passage from The Republic

“Then, Thrasymachus, is not this immediately apparent, that no art or office provides what is beneficial for itself — but as we said long ago it provides and enjoins what is beneficial to its subject, considering the advantage of that, the weaker, and not the advantage the stronger? That was why… I was just now saying that no one of his own will chooses to hold rule and office and take other people’s troubles in hand to straighten them out, but everybody expects pay for that, because he who is to exercise the art rightly never does what is best for himself or enjoins it when he gives commands according to the art, but what is best for the subject. That is the reason, it seems, why pay must be provided for those who are to consent to rule, either in form of money or honor or a penalty if they refuse.” “What do you mean by that, Socrates?” said Glaucon. “The two wages I recognize, but the penalty you speak of and described as a form of wage I don’t understand.” “Then,” said I, “you don’t understand the wages of the best men for the sake of which the finest spirits hold office and rule when they consent to do so. Don’t you know that to be covetous of honor and covetous of money is said to be and is a reproach?” “I do,” he said. “Well, then,” said I, “that is why the good are not willing to rule either for the sake of money or of honor. They do not wish to collect pay openly for their service of rule and be styled hirelings nor to take it by stealth from their office and be called thieves, nor yet for the sake of honor, for they are not covetous of honor. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. It is from fear of this, as it appears to me, that the better sort hold office when they do, and then they go to it not in the expectation of enjoyment nor as to a good thing, but as to a necessary evil and because they are unable to turn it over to better men than themselves or to their like. For we may venture to say that, if there should be a city of good men only, immunity from office-holding would be as eagerly contended for as office is now, and there it would be made plain that in very truth the true ruler does not naturally seek his own advantage but that of the ruled; so that every man of understanding would rather choose to be benefited by another than to be bothered with benefiting him.”

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Read related posts: Quotations Mistakenly Attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
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For further reading: The Republic by Plato (translated by Christopher Ellyn-Jones)
Society and Solitude by Ralph Waldo Emerson
https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-platos-famous-academy-112520

https://www.iep.utm.edu/academy/
https://www.iep.utm.edu/plato/


Have You Geminated Recently?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsAlthough geminate, as a verb or adjective, is not often used, it happens quite frequently. Here’s a clue to its meaning: the word is derived from the Latin geminatus, which in turn is derived from geminus (meaning “twin”, as in Gemini). So when we say that somethings are geminate, we mean that these items come in pairs: eg, the following things are geminate: eyes, ears, shoes, headphones, earrings, chromosomes, gloves — you get the picture. The term is frequently used in phonetics to describe a person who pronounces a compound word as two distinct words, eg, “head phones” (rather than “headphones”) or “book shelf” (rather than “bookshelf”). Let us turn to the verb form. When we geminate, we are pairing something, that is to say, we are putting two items together to make a pair. So if you have recently done laundry, you have geminated — you have put socks together in pairs; you have geminated your socks. Or if you have put away your shoes, by pairing them in your closet, you have geminated your shoes.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

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The Most Wicked Freudian Slip in the Bible

alex atkins bookshelf booksIn the Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Sigmund Freud (“Siggy” to his friends) introduced the concept of Freudian slips: a verbal or memory mistake that is caused by a subconscious thought. It is often referred to as a slip of the tongue. For example, during a televised speech on C-SPAN, Senator Ted Kennedy was discussing education and uttered this titillating line: “Our national interest ought to be to encourage the breast and the brightest.” What he meant to say, was “the best” not “the breast.” Freud would say that this gaffe reveals what Kennedy was actually thinking about subconsciously — and of course, being a Kennedy… boys will be boys. More recently, in June 2018, during an interview on CNN’s New Day, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Queen of Alternative Facts, said this: “Just so we’re clear: and the problem with the president of the United States and the Commander of Cheese — chief — expressing that opinion, is exactly what?” Freud would say that this egregious, and rather delicious, verbal slip-up reveals her subconscious feelings toward the President, considering him to be cheesy, i.e., inauthentic. Or perhaps she was thinking of swiss cheese, full of holes.

But in the world of print, perhaps the most famous—and most wicked—Freudian slip occurs in the 1631 Bible, published by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, who were the royal printers in London. It was meant to be a reprint of the 1611 King James Bible but the compositor (the tradesman who arranged each cast metal letter on a composing stick) must have had adultery on his mind when he was working on the ten commandments. In this edition of the Bible (known as the Wicked Bible, Adulterous Bible, or the Sinner’s Bible — although it should also be known as the Politician’s Bible) the 7th commandment reads: “Thou shalt commit adultery.” as opposed to “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Oops. The compositor was caught with his pants down, so to speak. This egregious blunder, a classic Freudian slip, was also missed by the corrector, the person employed to review the typecast forms and initial printed proofs. As you can imagine, that mistake caused quite a scandal in England. The King, Charles I, and Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, threw epic hissy fits. The printers were hauled into court, fined heavily, and had their printing license revoked.

So what happened to the Wicked Bibles? As soon as the error was discovered, all the evil Bibles  were collected and burned. However, dare we say miraculously, a few errant copies made their way to the open market. The Wicked Bible is extremely rare, and thus very valuable — worth about $100,000 (but of course, not as valuable as a first edition Gutenberg Bible, worth more than $30 million). Only a few museums or libraries have a copy of the Wicked Bible; those include the British Library, the New York Public Library, and the Dunham Bible Museum. Since most people do not want to see the Good Book commanding this sort of moral depravity, the Wicked Bible is rarely displayed.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

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For further reading: Just My Typo by Drummond Moir
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/004057368003700311
https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-freudian-slip-2795851
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/06/kellyanne-conway-commander-in-cheese-628689
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201203/slips-the-tongue


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