10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs

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Recently, we found out about a cookbook that you can actually eat after you’re done reading the recipes inside, which to us sounds pretty much like the best idea ever. Inspired by this elegant and — let’s face it — kind of crazy book, we went hunting for other wildly unusual book designs, from the edible to the mechanical to the technically alive. True, we mostly think all books are little objets d’art, but these go above and beyond the normal standards, each one an innovative and interesting piece of design as well as a functioning book. Click through to check out our gallery of some of the most crazy design ever to be applied to books, and let us know if we missed any cool ones in the comments!

A special edition edible cookbook from German design firm Korefe and Gerstenberg Publishing, the recipes are printed on fresh pasta pages that can be baked into a delicious lasagna.

The Mirror Book, by John Christie and Ron King, and published by Circle Press in 1985, is exactly what it sounds like. It comes complete with a pair of white gloves for smudge-free handling, and it’s meant to be a book about self-discovery: “as one turns the pages, hands are reflected, and on looking closely, our own faces. In the act of turning, the self-image becomes distorted. Here the book is the entrance key to a world of self-contemplation, and, potentially, self-knowledge.”

While it might not look all that out of the ordinary, the first edition cover of We’re Getting On by James Kaelan is made out of birch seed paper — so when you’re finished reading it, you can plant it and make a tree.

Speaking of edible books, Design Criminals is another tome you can nibble — only this one is an art book made entirely out of sugar and printed with vegetable ink. The book won designer Andreas Pohancenik a nomination for the prestigious Brit Insurance Design Awards. Check out a making-of video here.

A glow-in-the-dark book by Croatian designers Bruketa&Žinić that can only be identified at night — in the light, it looks like a plain white journal. Read more here.

Even though these books were only distributed as a direct marketing idea to promote the movie The Jungle Book 2 in Spain, we think they’re pretty phenomenal. We wonder what’s inside.

The Mechanical Word is a five volume series of mechanical books designed by Karen Bleitz with poetry by Richard Price. Readers turn the cranks to interact with the poems and “reveal the forces hidden within the constructs of communication.”

Coffee Stains by Martha Hayden is a book about the health benefits of coffee — and it’s made out of coffee residue. How appropriate.

This edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Imp of the Perverse,” designed by Helen Friel, must be destroyed to be properly read. Friel explains, “‘The Imp of the Perverse’ discusses the voice inside all of us that makes us to do things we know we shouldn’t do. Each page is perforated in a grid system with sections of the text missing. Readers must follow the simple instructions to tear and fold specific sections to reveal the missing text. Books are usually precious objects and the destruction is engineered to give the reader conflicting feelings, do they keep the book in it’s perfect untorn form? Or give into the imp and enjoy tearing it apart?”

Each edition of Richard Long’s Nile (Papers of River Muds) is made from the mud of the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Rhine, the Guatiquia, the Huang He, the Hudson, the Nairobi, and other rivers, each page a little different depending on where it was collected.