The Madman's Library
The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities from History
by Edward Brooke-Hitching
ASIN : B08M5GNCM2
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK (October 1, 2020)
Genre: NonFiction, Educational, World History
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0.
'Anybody who loves the printed word will be bowled over by this amusing, erudite, beautiful book about books. It is in every way a triumph. One of the loveliest books to have been published for many, many years' Alexander McCall Smith
'Quite simply the best gift for any book lover this year, or perhaps ever' Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times Books of the Year
'An utterly joyous journey into the deepest eccentricities of the human mind… The most cheering, fascinating book I’ve read for ages' Guardian
From the author of the critically acclaimed and globally successful The Phantom Atlas, The Golden Atlas and The Sky Atlas comes a stunning new work. The Madman’s Library is a unique, beautifully illustrated journey through the entire history of literature, delving into its darkest territories to hunt down the very strangest books ever written, and uncover the fascinating stories behind their creation.
This is a madman’s library of eccentric and extraordinary volumes from around the world, many of which have been completely forgotten. Books written in blood and books that kill, books of the insane and books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered… and a few others that are just plain weird.
From the 605-page Qur'an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein, through the gorgeously decorated 15th-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus, to the lost art of binding books with human skin, every strand of strangeness imaginable (and many inconceivable) has been unearthed and bound together for a unique and richly illustrated collection ideal for every book-lover.
I enjoyed the great extent of details and illustrations shared in this book. The introduction indicates the Google Books project set out in 2002 to scan the then known 129,864,880 books. The book opens with illustrations of a multi floored library, then a partially naked alien warrior (with exposed parts), and Chinese illustrations of figures using flatulence as weapons. So now that he has your attention, the author can share about size (so large to require an engine to turn pages, small enough for a locket and smaller), and materials (including skin and tin, inks and bindings with poisons like arsenic).
Scan the table of contents and you will see the diverse topics the book is going to share. I loved the Books that Aren’t Books chapter and Cryptic Books. The Curious Collections and Curiosities of Science are cool too, as are all the chapters.
This is certainly a good table conversation book but it could also be great for creative inspiration for book nerds. Not that you want anyone inspired by the blood and skin books but there are plenty of items that are worth being inspired by! I recommend this to every book lover to enjoy the history and variety of books.
Source: 4/4/2021 from NetGalley Read Now. This qualifies for 2021NetGalley goal.