For some readers, a book ends once they’ve reached the last page. For others, that last page kickstarts a deep dive down the delightful rabbit hole of book-related fun facts available to anyone with internet access and a lot of free time. In fact, the stories behind famous books are so fascinating that they practically deserve a book of their own. So Mental Floss decided to make one.
We’re excited to introduce The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels & Novelists, edited by Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy and the rest of the Mental Floss team. It’s an illustrated and quirky compendium of all the things you didn’t know about all the books and authors you probably do know. Little-known details about an author and their work can help provide context for a certain novel, and they can also help you become the most interesting guest at any dinner party.
In this gifty book of books, you’ll find out which literary characters were based on real people (Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy may have been) and which authors didn’t have high hopes for their own now-successful novels (Toni Morrison and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name a couple). You’ll also learn a lot about what could have been. George Orwell, for example, almost set 1984 in a different year and titled it The Last Man in Europe. And Marcel Proust’s memorable madeleine was almost a piece of plain old toast.
Published by Weldon Owen, The Curious Reader is a way to discover more reasons to love your favorite works and also add new books to your ever-lengthening list. Lovely enough to be the perfect present for any book nerd, it’s also jam-packed with facts that will make you an asset to any trivia team.
The Curious Reader is available now, and you can order it here.