Bizarre and Weird Books

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Ever watched Ripley’s Believe It or Not? It “deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims.”

Featured stuff include people who are 100% tattooed, who paint with their tongues, who eat 18 inch nails, not to mention  elongated skulls, shrunken skulls, and many other weird and bizarre things.

Strangely, the only mention books gets in the whole Ripley’s franchise is limited to those they offer for sale. They don’t have a Christmas Special on Bizarre and Weird Books.

We have decided to make up for it! So here’s a list of the weirdest books on earth:

Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words without Using the Letter “E”

A certain Ernest Vincent White disliked the second vowel. In fact, it seems to us that it disgusted him to a great extent. As you have deduced by now, he wrote a whole fifty thousand word novel without ever committing the sin of “e.”

White should be commended for his lipogrammatic effort. “E” is, as we all know the most commonly used letter in the English language. The author was absolutely committed to eradicating the dastardly “e.”

He even avoided abbreviations like “Mr.” or “Mrs.”as when these are spelt, there is an “e.” Past tense also created a big challenge for this creative author as nearly all verbs take an “-ed” suffix.

The basic story is about a man who is disturbed by how his hometown is going into decline. John Gadsby then enlists the help of the town’s young people to turn the hamlet of 2000 into a city of 60 000.

This weird book did not garner much notice at the time of publication, but it has gone on to become a collectible. It is now in the public domain and you can download and read it.

2002: A Palindrome Story

Nick Montfort and William Gillespie co-authored this illustrated book. They went to great length to make everything about this book “palindromic.”

It was first published on the first on January 2002. The web edition came out on 2002-02-02, or as they put in 20-02-2002.

The palindrome was created with the help of special software.

If you feel that a mere 2002 words is not that much of a challenge, Peter Norvig created a 17 826 word palindrome sentence. It starts (and ends) like this A man, a plan, a cameo, Zena, Bird, Mocha, … , Lew, Orpah, Comdr, Ibanez, OEM, a canal, Panama!

Bizarre Topics

Millions of options some of which are not really weird. For example, Australian Tractors: Indigenous Tractors and Self-Propelled Machines in Rural Australia by Graeme R. Quick or Land Snails and Slugs of Russia and Adjacent Countries by A. Sysoev and A.A. Schileyko.

At first glance they might appear to be weird, but then you realize that these books are written for a very specific group of people. Although there seems to be no word to describe the fascination with tractors, there are people out there who love tractors. And who can deny that a conchologist would love reading about the rarities of the old Soviet republics?

There are always those who confuse discussing bodily functions with wit and it is no wonder that you also find books like Urine Therapy! Confessions of a Mad Pee Drinker by P.P. Powers or How to Poo on a Date by Mats and Enzo. We almost decided not even to mention these, in case we offend Zen Scribe.

The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories by Alisa Surkis and Monica Nolan nearly did not get a mention either.

The winner for this category has to be the absurd book The 2007-2012 Outlook for Public Building Portable Folding Chairs in India by Philip M. Parker. It is only available in Paperback it seems and will set you back a mere $392.36 on Amazon.

We initially thought that this is a setup, but it seems that this is really a real book, written by a real person for a real reason.

The Weird Cover

Bibles, generally, try to hide the exciting message they bring by adorning themselves with drab covers. Mostly they are black, now and again you find an adventurous Bible covered in white, or those vulgar ones in blue.

But the rest of the publishing world has figured out that if you clothe your book in an eye grabbing way, you might just get an extra sale or two.

Arsene Houssaye took the book cover business to an entirely new level. You will be surprised that he did this somewhere in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

“Scientists and conservators carried out a series of tests on Houghton Library’s copy of the French writer Arsene Houssaye’s “Des destinees de l’ame” and concluded with 99.9% confidence that the binding material came from a human.”

Yes, your eyes are not fooling you. He used the skin of a human.

In the same article we read “Termed anthropodermic bibliopegy, the binding of books in human skin has occurred at least since the 16th century. The confessions of criminals were occasionally bound in the skin of the convicted, or an individual might request to be memorialized for family or lovers in the form of a book.”

So, people like to leave their loved ones a book covered with their own skin? And people take comfort from holding that book in their arms?

Which weird stories have you read and which bizarre covers have stayed with you? Comment!

4 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Booknomics and commented:

    Which weird stories have you read and which bizarre covers have stayed with you?

  2. Apparently the term anthropodermic bibliopegy means “the practice of binding books in human skin.” Strange…

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