Libraries are some of the best places on earth. The quiet, the smell of old books, the nap corners. Maybe that’s just me. But regardless of why you love them, libraries are great for everybody. I love any branch, but some libraries take it a step further (or like a hundred steps). Take the central branch of the Kansas City Library in Kansas City Missouri, which is, in fact, made of giant books.
Image via Flickr
Okay, so it’s not really made of books, they probably don’t open, but the library is open seven days a week. But the library’s beauty doesn’t stop there. Books are featured on the inside too, as they should be. I like a dark, labyrinthine space as much as anyone, but this library goes another direction entirely, as it does on the outside.
Image via Kansas City Public Library
Aesthetics on point, books on point, and a lot of services to help the local community. Obviously the decor is enough to lure in any book lover, but not only is this an excellent building and an excellent library, it also offers a long list of additional resources for visitors. Dozens of computers, wifi, video conferencing, study rooms, event spaces, and more.
Image via Architecture Magazine
When someone broke this news on Tumblr (this might be generous – the central part of the building is historic), someone actually in Kansas City did us all a solid and went by, taking photos and investigating services. You can read the entire saga here. If you’re in Kansas City, stop by. The rest of us are jealous.
The way we go about reading a book has always been straight forward; we pick our meticulously bonded pieces of paper and simply read. Sometimes this isn’t enough, sometimes we crave more than the traditional experience. Some of the world’s most creative, well, creatives, have taken literary classics and some not so classic and presented them to the public in unique ways.
The following list contains some of the coolest, subtle and completely jarring book designs that challenge the generic physical presentation often associated with a “book” for those who are looking for something new…
1. A Heat Sensitive Edition Of Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury
Well that’s ironic. The Jan Van Eyck Academie in the Netherlands created a version of Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel where the text only becomes visible when one heats the book up. These inspired individuals have not only created a unique, yet dangerous reading experience, but may have also inadvertently found a cure for pyromania. They’ve been working on marketing and distribution since 2017 and it looks like it’s about to be available to the public this year; don’t take my word for it, this could be fake. But hey, purchase here.
Image Via Superterrain.fr
2. Rolling Words by Snoop Dogg
The national treasure that is Snoop D-O-G-G has officially blown the minds of the literary community right out of his favorite mothership bong. This gem of a book contains the lyrics to many of the master’s songs, all written in non-toxic ink. Why do you ask? Because the pages are perforated and made of rolling paper. Yeah. One can be eloquently reminded of one the nation’s most memorable musical artists while prepping for a “session.” In addition to rolling paper pages, this book is made entirely of hemp with a spine that you can strike a match on. Unfortunately, this was a promotional item and doesn’t seem to be available anywhere other than your smelly neighbor’s eBay account.
Most readers and writers love coffee and it’s ever-surprising legality. I mean, an individual can get pretty cranked up on caffeine to the point where they probably shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery … Anyway, Martha Hayden most likely took this love for caffeine into account when creating this next beauty. Coffee Stains is a book containing twenty-two pages made from coffee residue. The cover is made from paper that comes from villages in Nepal. These villages contain vegetation called “Lotka”, a bush that regenerates after being dismantled. The book itself is beautifully “painted” and talks about the health benefits of coffee. Overall, a very hipster and environmentally-friendly read.
Image Via Marthahayden.com
4. We’re Getting On by James Kaelan
This novel verges on ironic in the same way as numero uno, *spoiler alert* so will the one that follows this one. The first editions of James Kaelan’s novel, about a group of friends who move to the Nevada desert in an admirable attempt to live without technology, are filled with recycled paper and have covers made of birch seed. The characters in his novel face troubles associated with the contemporary American experience and it’s all meant to be quite an eye-opener for the reader. So basically, you can plant this book upon completion and save the world. Why does the air suddenly feel so dense?
Image Via Flavorwire.com
5. A Censored Version Of Nineteen Eighty-Four Or 1984 (It’s Published Both Ways)
This one may not be that elaborate, however, this book is awesome and the simplicity of the design here is charming enough to warrant mention. In 2013, Penguin books, with the help of David Pearson, released a version of George Orwell’s classic novel whose cover blacked out the name of said author and its forever recognizable title. Nineteen Eighty-Four is, of course, about a bleak dystopian society where Big Brother pretty much censors everything. Thought police exist to prevent independent thinking etc. Thoughtcrime, doublethink—everyone knows about this novel. Solid work Mr. Orwell, we tip the brim of our hats in rememberance once again.
Image Via TheVerge.com
6. The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson wrote a boatload of poetry in her lifetime, however only twelve or so were published in the traditional sense. Beyond this, she wrote a lot of her poems in homemade books that were found after her death. Some of her drafts were written on scrap pieces of paper and envelopes. In an endearing collection of these 52 #envelopepoems Dickinson can be found at her most awesome and radical stage. It also offers the reader insight into a very relatable process: writing. She’s easily one of the greatest poets to ever live.
Image Via Gwarlingo.com
7. Self-Destructing The Imp Of The Perverse By Edgar Allan Poe
This short story by Edgar Allan is all about doing things we know we shouldn’t do. Total self-destruction. A special interactive edition of this short story allows the reader to destroy the book. It is presented in a grid-system sort of way; it instructs the reader to fold and tear in a specific way that reveals the hidden text. Although this is a bit of a one-off, who doesn’t like a little wreckage?
Image Via Helenfriel.com
8. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Illustrated by Matt Kish
Heart of Darkness is a notoriously difficult read. It’s hard for someone to picture all that goes on; this version of Conrad’s novella (which inspired the film ApocalypseNow) is illustrated in a way that illuminates the character Marlow’s journey. There is also an index at the back of that book that will aid anyone wondering what inspired Kish’s drawings (the lines and phrases from the book).
Image Via Tinhouse.com
9.S./ Ship Of Theseus By Doug Dorst & J.J Abrams
One day, critically acclaimed director, J.J. Abrams, came up with a book idea. This book’s story then takes place in the margins of another book. So, he hired a writer and made it happen. The novel inside of S. is entitled Ship of Theseusand in its margins are what appear to be handwritten exchanges between two students who are reading it. They attempt to solve the mystery of the book’s authorship while also flirting here and there. It’s a truly fun read that also gifts the reader with various items stuffed between its pages– happy meals for swiftly aging book nerds. All hail the man whose name is Jeffrey Jacob Abrams.