Tag Archives: book covers

Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh

Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh

Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh

There’s something undeniably creepy about big, expansive libraries. The hushed whispers, the almost artificial quiet, and the smell of dusty tomes combine to create a surreal experience. But when it comes to creepy libraries, Harvard University might take the cake… you see, at least two of its books are bound in human skin.

A few years ago, three separate books were discovered in Harvard University’s library that had particularly strange-looking leather covers. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the smooth binding was actually human flesh… in one case, skin allegedly harvested from a man who was flayed alive. Yep, definitely the creepiest library ever.


As it turns out, the practice of using human skin to bind books was actually pretty popular during the 17th century. It’s referred to as Anthropodermic bibliopegy and proved pretty common when it came to anatomical textbooks. Medical professionals would often use the flesh of cadavers they’d dissected during their research. Waste not, want not, I suppose.


Harvard’s creepy books deal with Roman poetry, French philosophy,  and a treatise on medieval Spanish law for which the previously mentioned flayed skin was supposedly used. The book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… has a very interesting inscription inside, as The Harvard Crimson reports.

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’

Years later, the infamous “flayed skin book” had garnered so much attention on campus that Harvard went ahead and had the thing tested, concluding that it was likely a morbid 17th century joke. Despite the creepy inscription, their tests showed that the book’s cover was actually made out of a mixture of “cattle and pig collagen”. Hey, two genuine flesh-books out of three ain’t bad.

According to Director of University Libraries Sidney Verba ’53, there are almost certainly more of the human flesh-books out there, but while it’s possible to touch the two identified skin-books in Harvard’s rare book room, the librarians aren’t exactly fond of all the attention they’ve received lately (even inciting a few tepid responses to this very post). In fact, they’ve made it a point to downplay their ownership of the real flesh-bound books in favor of reminding the media that one of them is fake. Nice try.


If you do decide to head to Harvard and check out the books for yourself, do us a favor – just don’t read them out loud. We all know how that ends.

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Filed under Humor and Observations

Even More Strange Book Covers

I have done this post a few times and people get a kick out of it, so here goes again.  To see earlier posts, type “strange book covers” into the search box on my home page.  Enjoy!


Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

Still More Bizarre Book Covers

This has been a popular thread in the past.  If you wish to see more, type in “book covers” in the search on the home page.  I cannot attest for all of them as real books, as people are much better at photo-shopping nowadays.  However, the ones with a Kindle tag came right off the sales lists.  Enjoy:


Filed under Humor and Observations

Still More Strange Book Covers

This is the third installment of strange book covers.  You can search for the others by going to my home page and typing “book covers” into the search button.  I try to confirm that each of these is a real book, but some photoshops might get through.  Enjoy!  (Click a picture to enlarge)


Filed under Humor and Observations, Uncategorized, Writing

Strange and/or Funny Book Covers

As an author who has to get book covers for his books, I think I would have turned down all these covers, and even most of the topics.  See if you agree:

Reminiscent of the monster from Monty Python…

Bad news Spot, not going to the dog park today…

I would rather bomb proof the rider…

When yer cousin gits herself preggers…

Or you could just use a credit card and spend $5,000 to $10,000…

The Do it yourself Burial did not sell as well I think…

I am guessing, don’t go out in the water, or look around for them…

I’m guessing his hobby has his family running away already…

No comment…

Theory AND practice?


Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

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