For a while I have wanted to do a blog showcasing the best (weirdest) books from my personal collection. I am fascinated by what artists and authors can do when they treat books not merely as dull vehicles for prose, but as aesthetic objects in themselves. Despite not sharing the popular distaste for ebooks, I love the physicality of volumes and volumes of books. The look of text on paper and the playful repurposing of manuscripts. These are examples I evidently loved so much I needed to keep them. I could have chosen a different set and my process for picking was admittedly haphazard and whimsical, but I think this exemplifies a lot of what is possible.
The publisher Visual Editions deserves particular praise for releasing some of the finest, most recent instances of experimental book craft. I have included all four of the books I own from that publisher.
Likewise, The Folio Society produce far more than just wonderful hardbacks with gimmicky dust jackets, exquisite covers and apt illustrations. Some of their books are remarkable facsimiles, which capture the ideas of the original authors with a conscientious authenticity. William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, for example, was originally intended to be published using coloured typography, which was deemed impossible at the time.
One of the strangest books I have ever found is The Frankenstein Diaries: Translated from the Original German and Edited by the Reverend Hubert Venables. I saw this one on a bottom shelf at the splendid Hay on Wye Cinema Bookshop, a mock facsimile of the titular diaries published by The Viking Press in New York in the earlier 80s, with pictures seemingly taken from other sources.
Anne Carson's poetry takes much from her knowledge of the Classics, uniting her innovative exploration of multiple genres with a similar multiplicity of forms.
It was a great honour to have worked for Cinnamon Press, who publish more and more experimental fiction—often through their imprint Liquorice Fish.
Art books often create unique challenges to book design. This last book is a particular favourite of mine, even the feel of the textures are something special.