20 Brilliant Items Every Book Lover Will Want

RASCH via Amazon
RASCH via Amazon

For true bibliophiles, every day is book lover's day. But once a year, on August 9th, Book Lovers Day (capitalized) encourages readers of every level of voraciousness to unplug their smartphones and relax with a good book. If you want to show your undying dedication to the written word, you can take your celebration one step further by filling your favorite reading nook with the scent of an old book, a cup of book-themed tea, and dozens of other amazing products that every book fiend will love.

1. 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List; $22


Workman Publishing Company via Amazon

Think you've read every great book there is to read? James Mustich, a veteran bookseller and author of 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List, might disagree. While his long, long list includes children's classics like Goodnight Moon and sci-fi comedies like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, there are also some unexpected gems in there. And if you endeavor to read just one suggested title per month, you've got your next 83-plus years of reading all planned out. (If you'd rather digest the book in bite-sized segments, there's also a page-a-day calendar version.)

Buy it: Amazon

2. 100 Essential Novels Scratch-off Chart; $35 to $130

Pop Chart's 100 Essential Novels Scratch-off Chart
Pop Chart

Once you've started to make a dent in James Mustich's list of books, you'll want to show off your progress—whether people ask about it or not. Pop Chart's scratch-off poster lets your keep track of which classic novels you've read, with a total of 100 titles featured.

Buy it: Pop Chart

3. Old Books Candle; $22

Old Books candle from Frostbeard Studio
Frostbeard Studio via Amazon

Want to set the mood for a totally old-school reading experience? Minneapolis-based candlemaker Frostbeard Studio uses soy wax to re-create the delicious smell of old books (“the sweet, papery sort,” according to the company, not the mildewy ones). With scents of paper, dust, newsprint, and vanilla, the handmade candle is all the things we love about aging books—minus the allergens.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Charles Dickens Library Candles; $12

Charles Dickens library candle
Paddywax

Not a fan of the smell of old books? Take a big whiff of Charles Dicken, the bard of the dark and gloomy streets of foggy, 19th-century London, who gave us such dreary high school English class staples as Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. But like the scrappy street urchin protagonist of the latter, you’ll be asking for some more, please, when you experience the scent of this Dickens-inspired candle. Made of fragrant notes of tangerine, juniper, and clove, the only thing that could make this more authentic would be some chimney sweep soot under your nose.

Buy it: Paddywax

5. Literary Book Bags; $105 to $165

KrukruStudioBooks literary bags
KrukruStudioBooks via Etsy

KrukruStudioBooks's totes give the phrase book bag an entirely new meaning. Each purse is designed to look like a classic novel, complete with the author's name and illustrated cover art. Choose whether you'd prefer your bag to be crafted from faux or authentic leather, and then just pick your favorite book: Pride and Prejudice, Madame Bovary, Hamlet, The Little Prince, and Lolita are among the many titles they offer. And since each bag is produced by hand, you can custom order them in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles.

Buy it: Etsy

6. Bookmark Necklace; $100

Uncommon Goods' Literary Lovers Bookmark Necklace
Uncommon Goods

Is it a necklace? Is it a bookmark? Why can't it be both? Uncommon Goods' intricately patterned sterling silver necklace works with almost any outfit as a piece of jewelry; take it off and it becomes a charming bookmark to help save your place.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

7. Foldable Book Lamp; $28

BOSQUEEN foldable book lamp
BOSQUEEN via Amazon

When it's closed, BOSQUEEN's book lamp looks like your average book. But open it up and it becomes a book-style lantern with a gentle LED glow and its own USB port. It's foldable and portable, too, which makes it easy to place it wherever you want.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Novel Teas; $14

Novel Teas
Novel Teas via Amazon

There are few things cozier than grabbing a hot cup of tea and curling up on the couch with a great book. You can keep the literary theme going with Novel Teas, boxes of English breakfast tea that feature quotes from famous authors on each tea bag.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Library Card Mug; $12

Out of Print's Library Card mug
Out of Print via Amazon

While, for the most part, printed library cards have gone the way of the card catalog, Out of Print remembers the days of learning the Dewey Decimal system with this nostalgia-driven library card mug.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Edgar Allan Poe Scarf; $32

Out of Print Edgar Allan Poe scarf
Out of Print via Amazon

Edgar Allan Poe's mug is unmistakable, so why not stun—and hopefully delight—some people with Poe in scarf form? Out of Print’s teal Poe-ka dot scarf is lightweight, and is made from 80 percent cotton and 20 percent silk. Because it’s hand-dyed and hand-printed, it will need to be dry-cleaned, which seems a fair tradeoff for all the compliments you're sure to get.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Banned Books iPhone Case; $36

Society6's Banned Books iPhone case

Society6

Show your support of unsavory books (even if they are often banned for ridiculous reasons) with one of three simple black-and-white “I read banned books” phone cases from Society6. The cases are compatible with iPhone and Android. Sleek is more for appearances, whereas Tough Case insures less damage and Adventurous protects against worst-case scenarios. Besides protecting your phone, the case also works as a conversation starter.

Buy it: Society6

12. Bram Stoker Dracula Tote; $25

Society6's Remember Bram Stoker - Dracula Tote Bag
Society6

Dracula scribe Bram Stoker should be remembered for his gothic stories—and for being fashionable. Society6’s hand-sewn tote bag features a yellow rose, pink bow, and Stoker’s portrait preserved in a cameo; the tote comes in three different sizes.

Buy it: Society6

13. Knock Knock Personal Library Kit; $13

Knock Knock's Personal Library Kit
Knock Knock via Amazon

While sharing a treasured book with a friend, family member, or colleague is one of the greatest joys a true bibliophile can experience, there's always that tiny matter of making sure said book gets returned. Even if your personal book collection doesn't come close to rivaling the New York Public Library's, this library kit will ensure that you always know who borrowed your first edition copy of The Great Gatbsy last.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Pacheco coffee table with storage; $590

17 Stories' Pacheco Coffee Table looks like a fancier version of a now-vintage library card catalog file. The veneer finish is composed of distressed fir and birch, and dark metal legs support the table, which is a spacious 4 feet long. Three drawers open to a lot of storage instead of individual catalogs, making it perfect for storing ... well, books for one.

Buy it: Wayfair

15. Bibliophilia: 100 Literary Postcards; $16

Bibliophilia: 100 Literary Postcards
Obvious State Studio via Amazon

While postcards may most often be associated with travel, books have their own way of taking you places. This collection of 100 postcards features 50 of the most powerful quotes in literary history, so that you can let your favorite author—be it Virginia Woolf or Oscar Wilde—do the talking.

Buy it: Amazon

16. Library Books Wallpaper; $27

Rasch Library Books Wallpaper
RASCH Limited via Amazon

You don't have to have an additional 1000 square feet of home to create your own personal library. Fake it in any sized space with this library-themed wallpaper, which makes any room feel like your own personal reading nook.

Buy it: Amazon

17. Literary Mugs; $16

Uncommon Goods' literary mugs
Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods has immortalized Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, the Brontë sisters, and Edgar Allan Poe by giving them their own stoneware mugs. Quotes from their works surround images of the novelists, from Austen spouting romantic wisdom from Emma (“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”) to Poe’s “Nevermore” philosophy.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

18. Why So Ever Bards Dispense Profanity: A Party Game Based on the Works of William Shakespeare; $25

Why So Ever Bards Dispense Profanity: A Party Game Based on the Works of William Shakespeare
Why So Ever via Amazon

William Shakespeare may be known as the world's greatest writer, but he also had a notorious potty mouth. His plays, sonnets, and other works are filled with all sorts of dirty jokes (which may have gone right over your head), which is why this adults-only game, which is basically the Bard's version of Cards Against Humanity, so apropos.

Buy it: Amazon

19. Pride and Prejudice Writing Gloves; $26

Storiarts' Pride and Prejudice writing gloves
Storiarts

Whether you're reading, writing, or just taking the dog for a walk, you can keep the magical words of Jane Austen (or many of your other favorite writers) close by with these fingerless writing gloves.

Buy it: Storiarts

20. Still I Rise Infinity Scarf; $48

Storiarts' Still I Rise infinity scarf
Storiarts

If it's your neck that tends to get chilly, cover it up with the warming words of Maya Angelou's Still I Rise (which you can also pair with some writing gloves). Like the gloves, the scarves—both of which are decked out with the text of Angelou's beloved poem—celebrate a variety of authors, including Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, and Roald Dahl.

Buy it: Storiarts

Explore a Visual History of the Internet in This New Book From TASCHEN

Taschen
Taschen

Whether you’re looking for a funny cat video or tips on how to run your own business, chances are you’ll find what you need online. But how did the internet develop into this seemingly never-ending source of information? With so much out there, trying to nail down how the web came to be might seem like an impossible task. But Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990–Today, a book recently published by TASCHEN, will take you through the journey, complete with year-by-year breakdowns of key developments and visuals from the web's earliest days. It's available on TASCHEN's website now for $50 or you can pre-order from Amazon, with a release date set for December 7.

The 21 chapters of this book explore everything from the first viral website to how artificial intelligence came to live online. Web Design also allows readers to have a glimpse inside the minds of some of the people who paved the way for other online pioneers, such as Jonathan Gay, creator of Flash.

The Cover of the book Web Design. The Evolution of the Digital World 1990–Today exploring the internet's history.
TASCHEN

It's in the visual evolution where Web Design really stands out. Readers can see the first photo ever uploaded online, which was of a comedy band called Les Horribles Cernettes, a group composed of CERN employees. There are also photos of more recent accomplishments, like the Mind Scalextric, where users wore headsets and controlled a racecar with their thoughts. And, of course, there are photos that will simply make you feel just a bit nostalgic—think the famously indestructible Nokia phone.

CERN computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was the first to propose the idea for a database of hypertext links that allowed people to send data and communicate across a network just over 30 years ago. For Berners-Lee, the creation was meant as a more convenient way to find information at work; little did he know what it would evolve into. You can learn more about the internet—like the fact that you can still visit the first-ever website—by heading here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Why Don’t Bugs Eat People’s Bones?

ledwell/iStock via Getty Images
ledwell/iStock via Getty Images

In her new book, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death, mortician and best-selling author Caitlin Doughty answers real questions she's received from kids about death, dead bodies, and decomposition. In the following excerpt, she describes why the creatures that consider skin and organs a tasty snack just don't feel the same way about our skeletons. (It's nothing personal.)

It’s a lovely summer day and you’re having lunch in the park. You bite into a fried chicken wing, munching on the crispy skin and juicy flesh. Is your next move cracking into the bones, crunching them like the giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk”? Probably not.

If you yourself wouldn’t eat a pile of animal bones, why would you expect a beetle to show up and eat your bones? We expect too much from necrophages, the unsung heroes of the natural world. They are the death eaters, the organisms that fuel up by consuming dead and rotting things—and bless their hearts! Imagine, for a moment, what the world would look like without the assistance of the consumers of dead flesh. Corpses and carcasses everywhere. That road kill? It’s not going anywhere without the help of necrophages.

Necrophages do such a good job getting rid of dead things that we expect them to perform miracles. It’s like how if you do too good a job of cleaning your room, then your mom will expect perfection every time. Better to not set expectations so high. It’s just not worth the risk.

The corpse-nosher ranks are filled with diverse species. You have vultures, swooping down for a roadside snack. You have blowflies, which can smell death from up to 10 miles away. You have carrion beetles, which devour dried muscle. A dead human body is a wonderland of ecological niches, offering a wide range of homes and snacks for those inclined to eat. There are plenty of seats at death’s dinner table.

Remember the dermestid beetle? The helpful cuties we’d enlist to clean your parents’ skulls? Their job is to eat all the flesh off without damaging the bone. Let’s be clear: we don’t want them to eat the bone. Especially because other methods of flesh removal (like harsh chemicals) will not only hurt the bones, but might damage certain types of evidence, like marks on bones, which could be useful in criminal investigations. That’s why you bring in a colony of thousands of dermestids to do the dirty work. Plus, while you were over here complaining that they don’t eat enough bones, the beetles were also eating skin, hair, and feathers!

All right, but to your question: why don’t they eat bones, too? The simple answer is that eating bones is hard work. Not only that, but bones are not nutritionally useful to insects. Bones are mostly made of calcium, something insects just don’t need a lot of. Since they don’t need much calcium, insects like dermestids haven’t evolved to consume it or desire it. They’re about as interested in eating bones as you are.

But, here’s a dramatic twist: just because these beetles don’t usually eat bone doesn’t mean they won’t. It’s a cost-reward thing. Bones are a frustrating meal, but a meal is a meal. Peter Coffey, an agriculture educator at the University of Maryland, told me how he learned this firsthand when he used Dermestes maculatus to clean the skeleton of a stillborn lamb. Adult sheep bones are robust, “but in fetuses and newborns there are several places where fusion is not yet complete.” When he removed the lamb bones after the beetles finished cleaning them, “I noticed small round holes, about the diameter of a large larva.” It turns out beetles will go after less dense, delicate bones (like those of the stillborn lamb), but, Peter says, “there has to be a perfect storm of good environmental conditions and poor food availability before they’ll resort to bone, which would explain why it’s not more commonly observed.”

So, while dermestids and other flesh-eating bugs do not usually eat bone, if they get hungry enough, they will. Humans behave the same way. When Paris was under siege in the late 16th century, the city was starving. When people inside the city ran out of cats and dogs and rats to eat, they began disinterring bodies from the mass graves in the cemetery. They took the bones and ground them into flour to make what became known as Madame de Montpensier’s bread. Bone appetit! (Actually, maybe don’t bone appetit, as many who ate the bone bread died themselves.)

It seems like no creature out there wants to eat bone, really prefers bone. But wait, I haven’t introduced you to Osedax, or the bone worm. (I mean, it’s right there in the name, people. Osedax means “bone eater” or “bone devourer” in Latin.) Bone worms start as tiny larvae, floating out in the vast blackness of the deep ocean. Suddenly, emerging from the void above is a big ol’ dead creature, like a whale or an elephant seal. The bone worm attaches, and the feast begins. To be fair, even Osedax don’t really devour the minerals in the bone. Instead, they burrow into the bone searching for collagen and lipids to eat. After the whale is gone, the worms die, but not before they release enough larvae to travel the currents waiting for another carcass to comes along.

Bone worms aren’t picky. You could throw a cow, or your dad (don’t do that), overboard and they’d eat those bones, too. There is strong evidence that bone worms have been eating giant marine reptiles since the time of the dinosaurs. That means the whale eaters are older than whales themselves. Osedax are nature’s peak bone eaters, and they’re even sorta nice to look at, orangey-red floating tubes covering bones like a deep-sea shag carpet. Pretty amazing, given that scientist didn’t even know these creatures existed until 2002. Who knows what else is out there in the world, devouring bone?

The cover of 'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death'
The cover of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death
W.W. Norton

Reprinted from Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty. Text copyright (c) 2019 by Caitlin Doughty. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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