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Without further ado, today’s facts:
- WTF Fun Fact 13230 – NYPL Gave Away Books
The New York Public Library gave away books in the summer of 2022 – half a million books, to be exact.
The New York Public Library gave away half a million books
According to the NYPL website (cited below), branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, or Staten Island gave away books starting June 9, 2022. The goal was to give away 500,000 diverse books for kids and teens (from birth through 18)!
Certain locations even offered large print books as well as books in Spanish and Chinese.
As they note: “A lifelong love of reading—and your own home library—begin with choosing your first book.”
Building a personal book collection can provide people with many benefits – so it’s good to start young.
Having a personal library (however small) helps with knowledge, learning, and personal growth. It can also provide relaxation, stress relief, cultural enrichment, and a sense of accomplishment.
Collecting books can be a calming activity that helps reduce stress and promote mindfulness. It can even help you to regulate your emotions, especially if you collect books that address topics that you’re struggling with or that resonate with your experiences.
A study conducted by researchers at King’s College London found that over 30 percent of adults participate in some form of collecting, including books. While psychologists can’t pinpoint exactly what makes book collecting worthwhile, many people take great pride in their book collections.
Studies do show that people who engage in hobbies are happier than those who do not. Book collecting can even be a social hobby if it involves getting out of the house and hunting for books in bookstores or attending book clubs.
Read books, live longer
A 2016 study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine actually found that reading books can reduce mortality by up to 20%. You’ll live longer if you read books.
The same was not true of reading other things – like the Internet, newspapers, or magazines!
The researchers noted that “any level of book reading gave a significantly stronger survival advantage.” This was particularly true for adults 65 and older who read books instead of watching TV.
- WTF Fun Fact 13229 – Turkey’s Burj Al Babas
Turkey’s Burj Al Babas was supposed to be a luxury neighborhood. But today it’s a ghost town full of abandoned castle-like homes.
What’s the story behind Turkey’s Burj Al Babas?
Turkey’s Burj Al Babas is a luxury residential development located in Mudurnu (near Istanbul). It is full of fairy-tale-style castle-like villas – 732 of them, to be exact.
The Burj Al Babas was developed by the Turkish company Sarot International. Their goal was to provide a unique living experience for residents to wealthy Turkish nationals and foreigners alike. Sarot designed each villa in the style of a castle, complete with turrets, towers, and arched windows.
With a commitment to sustainability, the luxury neighborhood could have been an example of future living. Instead, it’s a ghost town. The villas are abandoned. Sarot declared bankruptcy and had to abandon the project before anyone moved in.
Despite Turkey’s Burj Al Babas being situated in a scenic location surrounded by lush green forests and replete with swimming pools, parks, and playgrounds, the peaceful setting is a bit too peaceful these days.
Why are the villas abandoned?
According to Architectural Digest (cited below):
“Construction started in 2014 and was expected to take four years, though, within that same time, the developers were forced to declare bankruptcy. As building the town got underway, locals became enraged with both the aesthetic of the homes and the business practices of the developers. According to the local news, many were frustrated that the castles didn’t resemble anything in the area, particularly the historical Ottoman-style mansions. A lawsuit against the developers also claimed the company destroyed trees and harmed the environment. Turkey’s economy then struggled in the years after the project started, and developers soon incurred a $27 million debt. A combination of bad choices and bad timing, construction was halted.”
While the Sarot Group was still hopeful about the completion of its project in 2019, they did not predict the pandemic. That further scuttled their plans.
In case you’re wondering if you can move in (the properties were set to be a steal at less than $500,000) the answer is no. Not a single dwelling is totally finished, and there are no utilities.
The site is now reminiscent of a postapocalyptic city. Construction materials lay strewn about. And yet the shells of the homes still look like neighborhoods of Disney castles missing their princes and princesses.
- WTF Fun Fact 13228 – The Lupercalia
Each year the ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 15th. The Romans originally called the festival Februa, and it acted as a purification ritual for the city.
Why did Romans celebrate Lupercalia?
The Romans associated Lupercalia with fertility, renewal, and revelry. But they also conducted it under the eye of a group of priests called Luperci.
The origins of the Lupercalia festival aren’t entirely clear. But they may have something to do with the myth of the she-wolf that nursed the abandoned brothers Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome). The Romans also associated the festival with the god of fertility, Faunus.
In Rome, March was the start of the New Year
According to Encyclopedia Britannica (cited below):
“Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh.
The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile.”
The Romans performed the sacrifice at the cave where the she-wolf supposedly suckled the founders Romulus and Remus.
The end of the festival
In 494 CE, Pope Gelasius I banned the Lupercalia because it was a pagan festival.
Some believe he tried to replace it with the Church’s Feast of the Purification (Candlemas), on February 2nd. But that holiday was likely established earlier.
Many people try to make the connection between Lupercalia and St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th. And while the holiday may have picked up some minor influences from the Lupercalia, the creation of that holiday came much later.
Regardless, Romans likely celebrated the Lupercalia for close to 1200 years. (However, academic Agnes Kirsopp Michaels has made the case that the festival only goes back to the 5th century B.C.) — WTF fun facts
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