Booklist of the Weird

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges

Beautifully illustrated by Peter Sis, this volume draws on folklore, religion, and literature from around the world to present a bestiary of the imagination. London: Penguin Classics, 2006.

 

Encyclopedia Vol. 1: A-E and Vol. 2: F-K edited by Tisa Bryant, Miranda Mellis & Kate Schatz

The Encyclopedia Project is an ongoing literary experiment; each entry is the work of a different author or artist, and the contents range from poetry to prose to photography. Providence: Encyclomedia, 2006 and 2010 respectively.

 

Address Book by Sophie Calle

After finding an address book lying in the street one day, French artist Sophie Calle conceived of a project: to visit every name on the list and ask them about the owner of the address book, without ever meeting the man himself. From these interviews, transcribed into the margins of the address book itself, she begins to build a portrait of the owner. But is knowing everything about someone the same as knowing them? Can something as complex as a human being be reduced to a collection of facts and anecdotes? Los Angeles: Siglio Press, 2012. 

 

Newspaper by Édouard Levé

A collection of headlines, stripped of place or personal names and other identifying details, reveals the underlying genericity and vacuity of the news, questioning its status as a representation of ‘reality.’ Translated by Jan Stein. Champaign, Illinois: Dalkey Archive Press, 2015.

 

Works by Édouard Levé

A fictionalized version of the author’s ouevre–533 artistic projects, never realized. Translated by Jan Stein. Champaign, Illinois: Dalkey Archive Press, 2014. 

 

Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

A field guides to the invisible creatures that surround us transforms into a meditation on the swiftly vanishing beauty of the natural world. New York: Bellevue Literary Press, 2014. 

 

The Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić

This is not actually one dictionary, but three–each presenting a different historical perspective, each telling the same stories in a vastly different way. Translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric. New York: Vintage International: 1989.

 

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by Georges Perec

In an effort to record the experience of being in a space, Perec anatomizes those aspects of ‘place’ that usually escape our attention–pebbles, pigeons, passing cars.

 

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will by Judith Schalansky

Schalansky’s atlas of places she will never see reflects her longing as a girl to travel beyond the confines of East Germany. Translated by Christine Lo. London: Penguin Books, 2010.

 

Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

An encyclopedia of an alien civilization annotated in an undeciphered language. New York: Rizzoli, 2013. 

 

A Dictionary of Maqiao by Han Shaogong

The opposite of a simple phrasebook, which skates over the complex spaces between languages, A Dictionary of Maqiao seeks to explore the untranslatable–the visceral, personal webs of meaning that entangle words together with the people who use them. Translated by Julia Lovell. New York: The Dial Press, 2005.

 

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones.

Wynne Jones’ satiric take on the travel guide explores the tropes and cliches of high fantasy. The humor of the piece conceals a serious meditation on the ways in which our assumptions and stereotypes circumscribe the limits of the imaginable. New York: Firebird, 2006.