I always think that most of my knowledge comes from the books I’ve read. Which is why it’s not very strong on famous people but fairly good on history and words and stuff. Here are five things I’ve learned from books over the years that I’m really glad I did!
- The existence of manatees.
In The Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson our main character moves to Brazil, and comes across some of these amazing creatures. Often known as a sea-cow, I think they’re pretty entrancing.
2. How maple syrup is made
When reading one of the books in Laura Ingall Wilder’s The Little House on the Prairie series I learned that maple syrup is made from tapping maple trees. How amazing! I loved the description of how they boiled it up then poured in in swirls onto snow to make sweets – I think they probably added sugar. I tried this myself but it didn’t work out quite so well…
3. The existence of the Northern Lights
So I definitely would have come across this at some point, but as it was I first encountered them in Pullman’s Northern Lights. The descriptions entranced me and I was amazed when I realised that it’s actually true.
If anyone has read War and Peace you’ll know that a ridiculously large portion of it is spent not discussing the characters but Tolstoy’s theory that we can’t really know anything about history because thousands and thousands of the smallest things that we will never know about affect every outcome. Which was pretty annoying when reading the book, but I stuck a reference to it into a history exam I did particularly well in, and so thanks, Tolstoy.
5. Stuff about The French Revolution
I’ve never studied this officially, but have just LOVED learning about it from The Scarlett Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and (to a lesser extent) A Place of Greater Safety.by Hilary Mantel.