I’m not going to say bookdragons are walking encyclopedias, because that’s exactly what we are. And people shouldn’t know it.
Hear me out here. You boast about your vast book-sourced knowledge to someone. Next thing, they’re asking you to share some of it, so you do, because… Why not, right? And suddenly you’ve horrified a bunch of people! “How to prepare for a postmortem in 1888 England” is just not what they had in mind, you know? Minor detail.
Now everyone’s throwing weird looks at you. You have nowhere to sit at lunch. You’ve entered a cheesy high school movie nightmare of the kind that makes you roll your eyes every two minutes, and it’s going to give you a headache. AND YOU’RE TRAPPED. All because of this indiscretion of yours.
Bookdragon knowledge is dangerous, you can’t just yell about it as you walk down the street.
But, seeing as we’re all cool people here and you’re so very understanding… I’m sure you won’t mind if I tell you everything about Y-shaped incisions and spreading sawdust on the floor to soak up blood. Right? RIGHT???
So I thought I’d just go ahead and share some of the most unusual things I picked up because of books.
This is stuff I learned either by reading the book itself, or because a single word in the middle of a page sent me into a googling rabbit hole. I won’t deny I’m a curious creature. In… Both senses of the word. So this list will be random! Go ahead, be shocked. I bet I’ll find *some place* to sit at for lunch…
How to make a weapon out of hairpins
So let’s start with some safety measures. Next time you find yourself trapped in a castle, with no weapons in sight to defend your puny self, make good use of your hairpins. Don’t have hairpins? I’m sorry, you’re doomed. You do? Then get them all out and let that hair loose! Wait… What are you doing? That won’t kill anyone, it’s only the first step. Stop… Stop shaking your head now. Good. Thanks.
Now that the pins are free, you’re going to snap their heads off. I hope you’re wearing bone hairpins, and not those every day, lowly metal ones. Don’t you know what’s good for you?? Okay, now tie the sharp broken pins together with a piece of string, which I bet you can find… Somewhere. Done? Voilà. You’re the new assassin of Adarlan, ready to do some damage.
This was actually never tested in the book, and is only here as a joke. Moving on.
Found in: Throne of Glass
London used to have a train station for the dead
Meet the London Necropolis, a train station made *exclusively* to get corpses out of the city and to their final resting place. For 87 years, trains going out of this station carried quite a few mourners and coffins, so I would say they were probably extremely haunted and destroyed as a precaution. Except for that one that survived. To make a nice horror movie.
So why would anyone need a whole funerary railway system? Overcrowded cemeteries. Yet another source of haunting. A brand new cemetery was built far enough from London to stay away from urban growth, and people needed a way to get there. But, an air raid ended the whole business by damaging the building during World War II, thus ridding London of the coffin curse. Or… So I’ve heard. But look at that! You could travel first class even inside a coffin. I bet it was nice.
Found in: Stalking Jack the Ripper
You know, I have no clue how you get away with killing these days, but back in medieval Germany, you probably wouldn’t. If you made some really bad decisions and became a criminal, you might find yourself being summoned to the Vehmgeritcht, a vigilante court that would hold trials in secret and hang people’s corpses on trees as a warning to others.
Of course, you could refuse to show up to your trial… In which case they’d start an open season on you. They sure liked hunting, which is why sometimes they’d give convicted criminals a few hours of a head start so they could run and stretch their legs on their way to a nasty death. Very generous of them.
The judges had secret signs to recognize each other, and went around with a rope (to hang people, of course) and a cool engraved knife with the letters S.S.G.G.. Meaning Stein, Strick, Gras, grün. Meaning stone, rope, grass, green. Meaning… Something deep and mystic, I’m sure.
Once you were dead and hanging, they’d leave the fancy knife behind to keep you company and show whoever found your body that your death was fair play, because, guess what?? These people had permission from the Roman Emperor to inflict death.
It wasn’t uncommon to prefer suicide to facing the court, but really the best option was staying away from murder and witchcraft. Or, you know. Not getting caught.
Found in: A Study in Scarlet
Girl’s periods stop with starving
Which seems pretty reasonable, all things considered. And by starving… I mean actual prolonged periods of malnutrition, not skipping lunch, so I suggest you don’t try this at home? Near death is not better than cramps. And the murderous cramps you’d get when the periods came back would be like nearly dying. Bad experience, through and through.
Found in: Throne of Glass
How *not* to shoot a gun
Let me just say, daggers and dragons are better than a gun on any given day, but… If you want to be boring and learn how to shoot one anyway… Who am I to stop you.
Here’s some stuff to keep in mind: Don’t hold it stiffly. And don’t use only one hand. James Bond is a lie, if you copy him you’ll get a painful recoil. So instead, use both hands, keep your body slightly angled, feet wide, relaxed posture, and BAM! You’ve killed your wall, congrats. Oh, there was someone behind it… Congrats.
Found in: Insurgent? Allegiant? It’s one of these
All the deadliest poisons
Want to kill someone without the loud bang? Some poison will do the job.
First, I should point out that Nightlock isn’t real. Not the nightlock berries in The Hunger Games, and not the nightlock poison in The Winner’s Curse. Which could be the reason why Grammarly is marking every “nightlock” in this post with a red line of doom, but let’s be dramatic and pretend it’s because of the biohazard involved in using it.
Regardless of how fictional nightlock is, there’s this nice little plant called nightshade that will kill someone after making them have convulsions and be unable to breathe, and that’s the one that may have inspired both nightlocks. It has berries… Hunger Games. And it’s sweet… Winner’s Curse. If you want to serve it discreetly, you should probably mix it with some wine to disguise the sweetness, just like the iced apple wine that killed a few hundred people before The Winners Curse became a disappointing book. But you could also use soda? Or chocolate milk? We’re not in a fantasy book, knock yourself out.
If you can’t find some nightshade at your local witch apothecary, try looking for Belladonna, because it goes by that name too. And if that sounds familiar… Then you’re a true Throne of Glass assassin. That makes you cool.
But back to fictional poisons. There’ll be no “As you wish” if you feel like becoming immune to Iocane powder and murdering the Silician who kidnapped your girl, so that’s the bad news for all Princess Bride fans. Iocane is so fictional, the NIH made a whole page about it as a joke.
If you want a real kind of “odorless, tasteless” poison that kills in seconds, Wolfsbane is your man — err, plant. I’d be careful, though, just touching it can kill you by asphyxiation. It’s a true heartstopper. Pro suggestion: mix it with water, and make sure your victim’s in the middle of a workout. Or, you know… Make it into a Wolfsbane potion to treat your uncle’s werewolf condition. All options are valid.
Found in: The Hunger Games, The Winner’s Curse, Throne of Glass, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
How to react to an aggressive dog
Well, this is a delicate matter. The next time your neighbor’s dog gets upset at you for looking sideways at his lawn… Don’t yell at him. It’ll just make him more nervous. Instead, become very still, avoid sudden movements, and, in a very non-threatening way, lower yourself until you’re laying flat on the ground. That’s supposed to calm him down.
But, you know what, I’m actually not sure about this at all, so… Maybe climb on a tree instead. And scream for help. Loudly. Just, get out of the way.
Found in: Divergent
What Paper Towns are
Turns out, copyrighting maps isn’t easy. You know that neighbor with the nasty dog? He’s not very nice himself. And when he breaks into your house and steals your brilliant cartography to sell cheap copies of it, what are you going to say? That he plagiarized your placement of cities and put New York in just the right spot? And Portugal is right next to Spain, as it should be? Seeing as the map itself is not enough, cartographers had to find a clever way to make sure their work wouldn’t be stolen, so they created Paper Towns. These are fictitious places that are sneakily put in the map, so that you can point accusingly at the neighbor and scream, “AHA! I made this place up, you thief!!”.
But, of course, the lay people using the map may have the misfortune of looking for a place that doesn’t exist, and, occasionally, end up making it real. Which is what happened to Agloe, a tiny place in New York that is now an actual landmark. This is like pulling fiction out of books, and thinking, “Oh cool!”, right before the shadow monster eats you and burns your house down. So… Beware of paper towns, I suppose. You never know what could happen.
Found in: Paper Towns
How to move in zero-g
Look, if you get this wrong, you’ll end up flailing like a duck as you get shot at by your enemies, so listen up. Find the nearest object, and push as hard as you can towards it. You’ll crash against it hard, it won’t be nice, but you’ll get over it quick and find your next target. Waving your arms in the air won’t help any! You can’t change direction on the way unless you have some complicated group formation doing somersaults with you, so make sure you’re shooting straight lines from one foothold to the next.
And, most importantly, don’t try to stay upright. It’s useless. This isn’t your living room’s floor, it’s zero g, so directions are whatever you make them. Right can be up, left can be right, you just need to change your mindset and try not to get dizzy. As far as you’re concerned, the enemy gate is always down, or… Whatever other point of reference you want to use. Go on and bend reality.
Found in: Ender’s Game
What fire looks like in space
Here’s some more spacey stuff. I’ll let Ezra Mason tell you about this himself, actually, because he’s pretty good at it.
“Fire does weird shit in space.
You don’t really think about it until you see something burn out there. You light a match in zero grav, the flame will be perfectly round. Like the way Terra looks in the old ‘casts. And just like Terra, the flame won’t flicker orange or yellow or even white out there in the black. It’ll burn blue as a VR sky. Blue as a pretty girl’s eyes.”
Found in: Illuminae
The meaning of basorexia
I guess this could be fitting after talking about having your head off this planet, because basorexia means “an overwhelming desire to kiss.” How this could be used in any kind of normal conversation, I have no idea, but I’m sure *some* of you will try. Just… Please don’t make pick up lines out of it. It’ll be bad.
Found in: Made you Up
“Don’t act like food around bears”
And back to the survival skills! This is quite self-explanatory, right? Don’t be a plate of spaghetti and meatballs… Or a couch potato… Or a walking ice cream cone… And you’ll survive the bear. Maybe. Just… Maybe.
Found in: My Lady Jane
Running past exhaustion
I guess not looking like food won’t be enough, so… Sorry, you’ve got to run. And, I can’t say I’m enough of a running girl to try this out myself, but apparently, you can outrun your own exhaustion by… Pushing through it. So if you ever run a good 3 or 4 miles non-stop and feel like you’re about to die with your lungs on fire, KEEP GOING. All of a sudden, the tiredness will completely disappear, you’ll have a spike of energy, and feel like the guy in a Redbull commercial. That should help you escape the bear. Or, I don’t know, save a screaming hysterical lady. You’re a superhero now.
Found in: Delirium
The secrets to perfect baking
Enough running, though, let’s talk about food.
Want to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies? Use. Parchment. Paper. No silicone trays. You need direct heat contact. Barely anyone will notice the difference, and your cookies will disappear in seconds either way, but… At least you’ll know you’re awesome. And a dangerous cookie wizard.
Also, remember, whatever some almost royal guy tells you, butter will *not* fix any recipe. That’s all.
Found in: Always and Forever, Lara Jean, The Heir
How many dead people there are for each living person
You thought after the baking stuff we’d stick to cute fluffy topics? No chance. So, for every single person alive right now, there are about 14 dead ones, if this book is still accurate 7 years later. It… Might not be. It may never have been, actually. But let’s stay positive! Glass half full, world 14 times dead.
Found in: The Fault in Our Stars
Some weird insults
On to important matters. Someday, you may find yourself in need of a scathing insult that doesn’t get you fired from your job or kicked out of a movie theater, and something like beef-witted varlet, bunch-back’d toad, pansycake, or shuckiest shucked-face shank will come in handy.
You could scream these in the middle of the street, and the worst anyone would think is that you’ve lost your mind and need to be committed. No hard feelings, nothing to lose, right?
But, if you want to be more straightforward, you can just pause dramatically and say, “To one such as myself, you are the intellectual equivalent of protozoa”. Then walk away as the people gawk.
Found in: My Lady Jane, Divergent, The Maze Runner, Illuminae
I’m pretty sure I have never, not even once, seen narcolepsy mentioned anywhere outside the Mysterious Benedict Society books, so I’ll assume it’s a rather obscure condition. Basically, if someone with narcolepsy has any strong emotions – be it sadness, sudden laughter, or a spike of anger – they’ll fall fast asleep. It’ll be impossible to wake them up when this happens, but they will on their own after a couple minutes.
Asides from the obvious problems this can bring, there’s also the issue of normal sleeping, which can bring temporary paralysis and horrifying hallucinations, so it’s definitely not easy stuff.
Found in: The Mysterious Benedict Society series
The fearsome Countess Dracula
Forget about bloody Vlad Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory is the scary one.
This woman killed anywhere between 36 and 650 young girls by beating them, freezing them, starving them, mutilating their bodies, having wild beasts attack them or making them torture each other. She went mad after her husband died, became a mass murderer, and is now known as a “crazed vampiric lesbian” who *may* have bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young.
For a pretty long time, it was illegal for Hungarians to even speak her name. So there you have it, fuel for your vampire nightmares. You can read more over here, I know you want to.
Found in: Hunting Prince Dracula
Survival mode food
More! Survival stuff! If you’re starving after getting lost in the woods and don’t feel like hunting a cute bunny (and I say, please don’t hunt the bunny) a patch of dandelions might just save your life. Yes. Eat the dandelions. Just go ahead and shove them in your mouth.
You can also find katniss at the bottom of a pond, but that involves getting wet and scouring mud with your bare feet, and you’ll probably not know what it looks like anyway. So dandelions are still the safest bet.
If there are no plants and you’re too desperate… you can always lift a mossy log and eat the white, slimy grubs under it. I call this “Survival of the Pumbaa”. It’ll be the most disgusting thing you’ve done in your life, but at least it’ll keep your life going.
Found in: The Hunger Games, Kiss of Deception
Jack the Ripper could have been caught
This is one of the strangest, most irresponsible things in the history of London police. You know, when someone tells you he *knows* the identity of a killer, you should at least check it out and see if it makes sense, right? But back during the hunt for Jack the Ripper, a man named Robert James Lee offered to help Scotland Yard find the killer… With his psychic powers. And they refused! Called him a madman! What kind of irrational decision makers would do something like this? It’s completely absurd. I’ve lost all faith in law enforcement. Thanks, Scotland Yard.
Found in: Stalking Jack the Ripper
The best self-defense tactic
And I suppose we should end this with a definitely useful bit of knowledge for everyday life, so here it is… Need to get rid of someone fast? Hit them on the head with a book and knock them out cold. You can thank me later.
Found in: A Darker Shade of Magic
So there you have it, a mountain of book strangeness that I somehow still remember. Now tell me, which of these is most unusual, and what are some weird things *you* have learned by reading books? Don’t worry, I won’t make you sit alone at lunch.