There are a lot of bizarre and bewildering books out there in the world. The UW Libraries are no exception. As a library student employee, I have come across some unusual covers, titles, and topics over the years. Though they may sound or look peculiar, you never know! Why not follow the 155-year-old cliché and not judge a book by its cover? If you are interested in looking through any of these unusual finds, read the blurbs beneath each title to see where to find it!

On Bullshit

I’ve come across this little book many times and it has always intrigued me. It seems to be relatively popular, though I am not sure why. I assume it has something to do with…well…you know. If you want to see it for yourself, this book is on the first floor open reserves shelves for spring quarter. Call number: (BJ1421 .F73 2005)

Modernist Cuisine at Home

This isn’t your average cookbook. Not only is it huge in size (really, it’s too big to fit on the regular shelves), but it has blueprint-like designs for how to make things like Onion Fluid Gel and Shiitake Marmalade and Sous Vide Braised Snails and Fat free Mac n’ cheese. (What the heck is this book!) I personally like a little fat in my mac n’ cheese, but that’s just me. If you are interested in learning to cook like a pro, you can find this book in the UWB Library Folio section. Call Number: (TX651 .M948 2012)

A Book of Glyphs

Edward Sanders is an American poet, singer, social activist and countercultural leader, environmentalist, author, publisher and founder and member of the rock band The Fugs…quite the resume! If that isn’t enough to get your attention, how about this: Sanders created his work for A Book of Glyphs in 2008 while he was in Florence, Italy using only colored pencils and a small sketch pad. A glyph is “a drawing that is charged with literary, emotional, historical or mythic and poetic intensity.” I tried to decipher some of the drawings in this book, let’s just say it was full of too much poetic intensity for me. Maybe you will have more luck. To find this book, go to the third floor of the UWB library. Beware, it’s tiny! Call number: (PS3569.A49 B66 2014b)

Stolen Sharpie Revolution

Ever wanted to create your own zine? This pocket-sized guide is packed with information about how to do it. I guess what I found unusual about this book was a) the title, and b) the layout on the inside – it looks like everything was hand-written in sharpie. Want it? Check the third floor stacks in the UWB library. Call number: (Z285.5 .W74 2005)

Please Bury Me in the Library

The title isn’t the only thing that strikes me as a little unusual, but the content as well. It’s full of short poems, each of them unique in their own way. However,  it seems a little morbid to be a children’s book. The poem that the title is based off of ends with: “Way back by a rack of Magazines, I won’t be sad too often, If they bury me in the library, with book worms in my coffin.” …and I thought Toy Story 3 was too scary for children. Anyway, if you are curious, this book is in the children’s literature shelves on the third floor of the UWB library. Call number: (PS3562.E9465 P58 2005)

Ragged Dicks

Without a little context, this title does seem quite peculiar. However, the name ‘Ragged Dick’ traces back to the literature of Horatio Alger, Jr. published in 1867. In his series ‘Ragged Dick,’ a young shoe shiner who demonstrates virtue and frugality rises from rags to riches, renaming himself Richard Hunter, Esquire. In all respects, the original Ragged Dick is a “self-made man.” Might be interesting to read how that ties in with today’s interpretations of masculinity… If you are so inclined, this book is up in our stacks on the third floor. Call number: (HQ1090.3 .C4 2001)

Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramović

When you flip through this book, you will understand why it’s unusual. There are no words, just pages full of close-up portraits of people’s reactions to performance artist Marina Abramović. Many of them cry, some of them smile in the presence of Abramović, who sat in her exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art for a grand total of 716 hours and 30 minutes. It’s actually pretty amazing. This book can be found up in the third floor stacks at the UWB library. Call number: (TR680.A57 P67 2012)

What’s My Name, Fool?

I want this as a poster to put on my wall. The cover features an image of Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion of the 60s and 70s. The title derives from the 1967 tournament between Ali and Ernie Terrell in which Terrell continually called Ali by his birth name, Clay. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Terrell thought Ali’s outrage was staged, part of a publicity stunt to promote the fight. But once the bell rang in Houston, it was clear that Ali was not joking. Over and over, he shouted, “What’s my name?” before delivering one damaging blow after another.” Ali won the fight. Zirin chronicles U.S. history through sports by telling the stories of many famous athletes, including Ali. Want to read it? It will be up in the stacks of the UWB library (GV706.5 .Z57 2005)

Virtual unreality

Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, especially if it looks anything like the cover of this book. There appears to be a cat riding a dolphin, with a flying saucer shooting a laser and the Statue of Liberty in the background. I feel like I’m describing a dream I had once. Right now, the book is on the new books shelf down on the first floor of the UWB library. Call Number: (ZA4201 .S44 2014)

Clean Asshole Poems and Smiling Vegetable Songs

This is not your average poetry collection. At first glance, Orlovsky’s work is vulgar, random and makes no sense (not to mention the title…seriously, what?!). However, Orlovsky was a central figure in the Beat movement in 1970s New York. Key components of this movement were non-conformity and creativity, so I guess that explains some of it. This book is actually housed at the Suzzallo Allen Library on the UW Seattle campus. If you don’t want to make the trip, you can always place a hold on it from the online catalog.

Happy reading! ❤

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2 thoughts on “Unusual books at the UW Libraries

  1. So, I’m friends with Tami Garrard, and she sent this to me. I put it out on Twitter because I think you are hilarious! You have totally made my Friday.

    Here are my two favorite quotes:
    “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, especially if it looks anything like the cover of this book.”

    “Without a little context, this title does seem quite peculiar.”

    On a serious note, that Zirin book is quite fantastic if you like history about radical politics. And I bet if you’re one of Tami’s employees, you know a thing or two about radical politics:) Keep writing! You’re brilliant!

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