Read and be greatly surprised

Most expensive Belarusian book costs Br5m while smallest can fit into a baby’s palm
By Lyubov Notkina

The thickest book in the world is soon to be published in Denmark, with 23,675 pages, detailing the rules and regulations of budgetary funding for allowances for unemployed Danes. Its publisher, the Min A-kasse unemployment insurance company, seems to have its eye on The Guinness Book of Records.

How do Belarusian books surprise readers? We here detail the top five unusual books from Belarus, aided by the National Library and the State Museum of Belarusian Literary History.

The oldest
The 11th century Turov Gospel is a handwritten liturgical collection of Gospel readings, written with chestnut ink in legible geometrically adjusted handwriting (by charter). Unfortunately, only 10 pages of the Gospel remain, having been found in a box of coal in Turov in 1865. Now, the publication is stored in the library of the Academy of Sciences of Lithuania in Vilnius.

The smallest
A collections of works by Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas, from 1967, measures just 3x4cm and is illustrated by popular Belarusian artist Vasily Sharangovich. The collection won a prize at the All-Union Contest The Art of Books and is currently held in the private collection of Yevgeny Ksenevich, who has been collecting miniatures for more than 30 years.

The most expensive
The book The Effect of Holding, by Alexander Gavrilenko, costs nearly Br5m. This is the most expensive edition, detailing business practices across the CIS. The book examines the activities of holding companies in Belarus. Circulation is limited to only 300 copies and is designed for a narrow readership. The author considers the theory and practice of corporate governance, systems of personal control and conflict resolution and issues of trust between owners and managers.

The most sincere
Testaments of the Nobility and of the Burghers in Belarus in the Second Half of the 16th Century contains ancient wills: ‘mental (spiritual) letters’. The collection has been prepared by the National Historical Archives of Belarus and contains more than a hundred documents, each translated into modern language. The originals were written by representatives of the nobility and by well-known figures of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Wills of that time reflected the material state of the person, their family body and their degree of education.

The most unexpected
The Blue Book of Belarusian Alcoholics, by Anton Kulon (real name Anatoly Ostapenko) tells of his adventures while drunk and how he rid himself of the addiction. The word ‘blue’ in the title of the book does not relate to the traditional colour of the faces of those who drink too much alcohol but is the colour of the publication by American Alcoholics Anonymous, for those who want to stop drinking.
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