I love everything about books. Reading them, of course. That goes without saying doesn’t it? Reading them to myself, to the grandchildren in a box, with a fox, on a train, in the rain. I also love selling books. Back in the 90s I managed an independent bookstore. I loved that job. Customers in bookshops are, for the most part, happy to be there because they love books, too. Then there’s lending books. I just retired after eighteen years in the children’s department of the public library. Eighteen years of connecting children with books and hearing them squeal, belly-laugh, and shout with joy when they found the books they were looking for—and one little girl who said, with hushed reverence, “Charlotte’s Web is my absolute favorite book in the whole world.”
What else do I love about books? Making them! Okay, so far I’ve only made a few simple, folded books (and a really cool box that looks like a book). I follow several handmade book artists online, though, and boy do I have visions of beautiful handmade books dancing in my head and plans to make them (after I finish writing the book due in mid-April).
|cover of a very simple zhen xian bao|
(Chinese thread book)
|all three boxes in zhen xian bao open |
(more elaborate zhen xian bao will
have a dozen or more folded boxes inside)
|really cool box that looks like a book|
Now let me add one more thing I love about books—eating them. Or again, to be more accurate, making books meant to be eaten for the annual International Edible Book Festival.
Have you ever been to an Edible Book Festival? They’re held all over the world on or around April 1st to celebrate the birthday of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (born April 1, 1755). Brillat-Savarin was a French gastronome famous for his witty meditation on food, Physiologie du gout. The festivals are loads of fun. People come up with the most amazing creations. Some edible books are culinary wonders. Others are done strictly for the laughs (or groans). The books are judged in a variety of categories. Last year’s categories at the University of Illinois festival were:
- Best Depiction of a Classic
- Best Visual Presentation
- Most Appetizing
- Best Entry Based on a Book for Children or Teens
- Best Collaborative Creation
- People’s Choice
After the winners are announced, attendees are invited to eat the books.
I entered the University of Illinois contest way back in 2008 and 2009. My “The Chard in the Scone” won 2nd place for Literary Merit in 2008, but “Rum Plus Stilton” got nothing in 2009. Bummer.
|The Chard in the Scone|
(It was a really lovely chili cheese scone.
If you'd like the scone recipe, let me know.)
I haven’t entered since, figuring I’ve probably peaked. But I’ve been toying with a couple of ideas lately, so maybe I’ll reconsider. What do you think of “Little Hummus in the Big Woods” or “Mastering the Artichoke of French Cooking”?
You can find pictures of entries from past festivals by Googling, and you can read more about the whys and wherefores of the International Edible Book Festival on Wikipedia. Most festivals this year will be virtual. But that’s cool, because now you can enter a festival that’s nowhere near where you live (and, if you make a book that’s truly appetizing, you can eat it yourself). There’s a short list of festivals at Book Riot.
If you were to create an edible book, would you try for the artistic/literary experience or are you more apt to go for the humorous/loony?
Molly MacRae writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.