Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

NYT Review of “Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t”

"It’s hard not to be charmed by the emotional intensity, inventiveness and sometimes sheer whimsy of the items in the chockablock display cases," says the New York Times of Mindell Dubansky's exhibit, “Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t.” The Guardian calls it "decidedly quirky – but utterly delightful." The display of 200 book-shaped objects from her collection can be seen at the Grolier Club in Manhattan through March 12th.

Dubanksy has been collecting blooks for nearly twenty years. This preservation librarian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art uses her collection to better understand people's love of books.

“People have a real love of the book as an object,” she said. “But what is that connection about? Why do we feel a need to live with books, to have them around? I figured that if I could eliminate the text and collect objects made to mimic the form of books, I could figure that out a little better.”
Indeed, it is hard to think of a better demonstration of people's affection for the codex shape itself. Their bibliophilia expresses itself in whimsically utilitarian cigarette holders and spice jars, and even gag gifts like exploding books. But it also takes book form in much more serious displays of affection. Truly iconic is this sculpture from the Cultural Revolution of Mao's Collected Works:

For more pictures and examples, see Dubansky's blog about blooks