12 Books That Indulge the Senses


Rebecca Steinitz’s beautiful essay about the smell of books, published in The Millions this week, inspired us to seek out books that indulge all five senses. We’re always on the lookout for unusual designs that boldly go where no book has gone before. Luckily, there are people like us out there who want a truly tactile experience with their books — reads you can taste, smell, and more. Here are 12 book designs that cater to the senses.

This tactile typography book illustrates a Ted Hughes story. Creators used bookbinding and printing materials with raised surfaces for readers to linger along.

Here’s a fantastic “growing book” designed to sprout plants along one side of the exterior, with the help of 8 tiny LED lights that double as a lamp for evening reads. Readers can plant seeds inside the book using predesigned grids. There’s also space to document your book gardening. The best part is that the entire design is biodegradable.

Fully Booked is an interactive, tactile book composed of pop-ups, unique bindings, embossed designs, and an array of folds. There’s even a collection of recipes etched into pasta sheets. The radical text “explores the distinctiveness of design, materials, workmanship, and production methods — and pushes their limits.”

In case of emergency, eat this survival guide made with edible paper and ink. You can use the binding as utensils and the reflective packaging to “call” for help.

Booktrack is an app that creates synchronized soundtracks for e-books. Sound effects, music, and ambient noise are matched to your reading speed. “It makes a new and engaging way to read and really enhances the experience and enhances your imagination and keeps you in the story longer,” Booktrack’s co-founder told the New York Times.

We would have our noses in this book made from coffee residue all damn day if we could.

Rustling is a tactile book for visually impaired children, ages two to six years old. Braille, zippers, fabric, stones, buttons, and more offer a poetical, sensory experience.

“Tactile book about typography. The type is raised by printing black ink onto ‘swell paper’ and applying heat.”

Julie Chen’s incredible book designs are works of art. She explores innovative and interactive presentation, with an emphasis on sculptural form, offering readers a unique reading experience. She’s created books that can be read in game board form, unusual cloth-covered clamshell books, and books in the form of a deck of cards.

Here are two gorgeous books from Suzanne Reese Horvitz. The first is a glass book (with printmaking, painted, and gilded elements) that reveals a portrait. The steel binding was created by artist Robert Roesch. The second book is composed of enamel and metal leaf on aluminum.

One company creates a chocolate-inspired gift for a client each year — like this edible book, made with wafer pages and a chocolate insert. The story within details the business relationship between partners.

Elisa Pellacani’s silver and brass book object tells the familiar tale of Alice in Wonderland through tiny sculptural pieces that unfold from an old timepiece.