I was inspired by Kelly’s post to keep track of things books have taught me during 2020… So the next time someone dares to ask me why I read fiction and how it’s not useful, I shove this post under their noses haha. I confess that with all the COVID-19 madness, I have been REALLY bad at keeping track after March/April, but I still wanted to share those facts I did manage to gather. Fiction can indeed teach us new things every day! Wonder what were some of the little facts I learned/was reminded of this year? Let’s get this party started!

  • I learned about dissociative fugues in Nothing To Lose by Victoria Selman, and that you can actually get black outs and kill someone only to forget all about it once an episode ends.
  • In Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, I learned about the Renfield’s Syndrome, which is the obsession with blood, and particularly the drinking of blood. It’s believed that it stems from the idea that blood has life-giving powers; that it makes you stronger, more potent, live longer etc. There are various stages, including auto-vampirism (self-inflicted cuts and scrapes), zoophagia (eating living creatures and drinking their blood) and clinical vampirism (acquiring and drinking the blood of living human beings).
  • The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee remembered me about mitridatism, which refers to an ancient king who poisoned himself with small doses of lethal toxins to develop immunity. (He feared his mother planned to kill him). I already knew the story from high school lessons, but it made me look up the full details again!
  • In The One by John Marrs I learned about coffin birth, which means that the pressure of abdominal gasses inside a dead pregnant woman can build up as she decomposes up to the point that the featus is forced from her body.
  • In A Dark And Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton I learned about sirenomelia, also called Mermaid Syndrome, which is a birth defect characterized by an apparent fusion of the legs into one single lower limb. It’s very rare and usually lethal; most babies with the condition are either stillborn or only live for a short time due to complications with underdeveloped abdominal organs.
  • How To Be Brave by Louise Beech taught me more about diabetes 1 and how it affects both the person with diabetes 1 and those around them… Especially if it’s a child.
  • The Silent House by Nell Pattison gave me more insight in the deaf community and made me think about how different life would be without being able to hear… It also showed what support is in place to help.
  • Beast by Matt Wesolowski was able to show me some recent social media terms: orbiters and flying monkeys. Orbiters are loosely similar to online followers. The mayority of orbiters are male and follow a female either online or in person, commenting and interacting in a needy way, showering them with compliments and defending them from attacks in the vain hope that the female may one day sleep with them. Flying monkeys is recent term, used in popular psychology to describe those who abuse others on behalf of someone else.
  • The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry made me want to pick up more classics again, including and not limited to the Sherlock Holmes books.
  • My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite taught me that bleach masks the smell of blood, and that bleach is great for disinfecting, but doesn’t work that well cleaning residue… Just in case I ever need to clean a crime scene. 😉
  • When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton taught me more about Cuba under Fidel Castro and especifically refreshed memories about the events between 1960-1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy Assassination in 1962.
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager taught me about the ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon forming a circle or figure eight by eating its own tail. Through act of self-destruction, the serpent is in essence controlling its own fate: eating itself -bringing death- while also feeding itself – bringing life. It symbolizes rebirth and cyclical nature of the universe.
  • Deadly Waters by OMJ Ryan told me about death by cold water shock, which causes your lungs to tighten and your heart to beat at almost twice its normal rate. In short minutes, hypothermia sets in and the body will shut down as it draws blood away from your skin to your vital organs, attempting to keep you alive. In cold weather, lethal quickly.
  • She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker told me more about how the body regulates itself with a series of chemical releases during the day. Adrenaline wakes us up, gives us that jolt of energy. When we lay down to sleep, our body does the opposite by releasing a hormone called melatonin. This hormone causes us to feel drowsy, prepares our bodies to shut down. As we enter the sleep state, when we’re right at the edge, we sometimes experience a muscle twitch called a ‘hypnagogic jerk’, which feels like falling to the nearly unconscious mind. This point is tried to be achieved when hypnotizing a person.
  • Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan reminded me about Dissociative Identity Disorder. Already knew since I watched the Split movie, but it refreshed memories. The affected person’s psyche developed what are called alters, meaning entirely different personalities or people within their fractured psyche. Some alters emerged for the very purpose of bearing the brunt of abuse. There seems to be no limit to how many alters a person with DID could have, but seems to be always a main alter, one who shows him or herself more than others and has great deal of influence.
  • What Lies Between Us by John Marrs taught me about psychogenic fugue. It’s a psychological state that occurs when someone loses awareness of their identity. Often, participate in unexpected movement or travel, but when consciousness returns they have no memory how they reached the new place.
  • The Child by Sebastian Fitzek told me about regressions, where patients are put into trance or hypnotized. It can make them recall something they quite unwittingly stored in one of their brain’s deepest levels of consciousness. Also taught me about cryptomnesia, the technical term for representing knowledge you’ve subconsciously absorbed from other people as your own.
  • I learned from Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain that when you blush, the inside of your stomach turns red too.
  • Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell reminded me about hybristophilia, also known as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome. It’s a sexual attraction for people who commit really dark crimes.
  • Sight Unseen by Sandra Ireland taught me about Charles Bonnet syndrome: Charles Bonnet was a naturalist from Genova; his grandfather had cataracts and he imagined seeing all kinds of things (people, patterns, birds etc.). Apparently it happens all time when someone is blind in one eye.

Congratulations, you have made it to the end of this list! It could have been a LOT longer, as I managed to read about a lot of other interesting facts after I started to forget to keep track of them… But I guess this post is enough to state two facts: I do love my thrillers and you can most definitely learn new things from fiction!

What about you: do you remember some of the facts you learned while reading fiction this year? Have people ever asked you why you read fiction and/or looked down on it?


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