The world is filled with literature. The classic major genres include romance novel, tragedy, satire, and comedy, but for some book enthusiasts, their fix for a fulfilling encounter with paper and letter ventures into the strange and odd. Enjoy a recap of some of the unique books unique folks find enjoyment from.

The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration

by: Richard Barnett

If you’re an aspiring artist, surgeon, or just love medical science this is the book for you! The Sick Rose was born from the drastic changes experienced in the early stages of the 19th century. Thanks to increased urbanization and poor hygiene countless diseases were running rampant among men, women, and children. Because the advent of color photography hadn’t been invented yet, most medical books were illustrated by artists. The Sick Rose is compiled of detail oriented illustrations depicting the effects of disease and other illness. Disclaimer: this book isn’t for the faint of heart.


Photo from The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration

Photo from The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration / Pinterest

Freak Babylon: An Illustrated History of Teratology and Freakshows

by: Jack Hunter

Teratology is the classification of human anomalies and Freak Babylon is a pretty comprehensive look at what society views as a “freak.” Comprised of over 200 real photographs, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride through the beginning and inevitable end of the Freak Show. Author Jack Hunter explores the history of teratology while also diving deep into the culture which exploded from it. He includes an illustrated review of one of my favorite films, Tod Browning’s Freaks, and the formerly out-of-print story The Elephant Man, the inspiration of the David Lynch film of the same name.


Set photo from Tod Browning’s Freaks / Pinterest

Codex Seraphinianus

by: Luigi Serafini

For the most part, we buy books to read them, but in some cases a book so strange comes along that, even though we have no idea what it’s saying, still want it anyway. Luigi Serafini created an entire world told by bizarre illustrations and his own coded language no one has been able to crack yet. When the book first surfaced, before the days of social media and internet shopping, it was almost entirely mysterious and presumably out of print. While the price tag for the latest edition (2013) is still a bit steep at $80, it’s a widely coveted coffee tabler. According to Serafini, the book was actually the result of telekinetically connecting with a cat who provided Serafini with the language and images you see in the book. Since then he has decoded some of the text, which is featured in the latest edition. Did a cat write this book through mind melding? Who really knows.

Photo from Codex Seraphinianus

Photo from Codex Seraphinianus / Norman Crane

Parasite Rex

by: Carl Zimmer

For those who hate bugs, arachnids, and basically anything crunchy on the outside Zimmer’s Parasite Rex may elevate that fear to staggering heights. Microscopic and almost impossible to detect – until it’s too late – parasites are everywhere and can tell us surprising things about the evolution of mankind. Zimmer teaches us the fascinating world of parasites, and while they are almost always horrible and gut twisting, he teaches us to understand and respect the world of parasites.


 Have you read these books? What are your favorite unique books?




Jess Hicks
Jess Hicks
Jess lives in Ohio with her husband and 3 cats. She is a freelance writer, film critic, and overall horror hound. Her interests aren't solely movie related though and you can check out her work on Phactual, Bloody-Disgusting, Geek Legacy, and more.