Sometimes, the library feels like a big popularity contest. We have entire shelves of titles by James Patterson and Stephen King. And right now, everyone wants to read The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. But there are thousands of items in our collection, and it’s about time someone gave some love to the more obscure and offbeat volumes. Here are a few quirky books that you probably never knew existed.
They Eat That? (Jonathan Deutsch and Natalya Murakhver, editors): Brought to you by reference publisher ABC-CLIO, this is a serious encyclopedia of all the surprising things people eat around the world. You’ll find alphabetized entries on topics like bats, brains, haggis, insects, roadkill, snakes, and even – gulp – humans. (Yes, that’s right! See pages 100-107.) For those with daring palates, many entries include recipes, but, wisely, the entry on humans omits the DIY instructions.
Tattoo a Banana (by Phil Hansen): If you’d rather play with your food than eat it, check out this compendium of eccentric craft projects. Learn how to draw Michelangelo’s David by poking holes into a banana skin. Use a template to paint a portrait with pudding flavors. Or discover the possibilities of toasted bread as an artistic medium. You’ll also find creative new uses for Scrabble tiles, leaf piles, plastic grocery bags, and other non-food items. If Luke from Modern Family wrote an arts-and-crafts book, it would probably look something like this.
Maximum FF: A Visual Exegesis of Fantastic Four #1 (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby): Here it is: the only physical book in our catalog with exegesis in the title. It’s a reprint of the seminal 1961 superhero story Fantastic Four #1, with each panel isolated and blown-up to gigantic proportions so you can savor every drawing. If you’ve never read this classic adventure, which pits the title team against Mole Man, this would be a … fantastic way to experience it. And if your snooty friends cluck their tongues at comics, you can say it’s a coffee table book of 1960s pop art.
The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks (by Bethany Keeley): Giggle your way through pictures of poorly punctuated signs, accompanied by snarky comments. Besides being a lot of fun, this book is a good reminder that punctuation really does matter. Would you want to buy something advertised as DAY OLD “BREAD”? After reading that weird food encyclopedia, I sure wouldn’t take my chances!
A Void (by Georges Perec; translated by Gilbert Adair): This novel probably won’t grab you with its vague title and unassuming cover art, but if you start flipping through the pages, you may notice something odd: the letter E is nowhere to be found! And if that’s not interesting enough, realize that this is an English translation of a French work, La Disparition, and the letter E is missing from both the original and the translation. The plot revolves around the search for a missing writer, and the novel engages in all sorts of clever wordplay that calls attention to the incomplete alphabet. This isn’t the easiest book to read – all the linguistic hijinks can get overwhelming – but you have to admire the effort that went into it. Heck, I couldn’t even go one sentence in this blog post without the letter E!