'This gorgeous collection of bizarre books through the ages... My favourite - and the jaw-dropping bar is high here - is the beautiful, tubercular, 19th-century countess who asked an author to bind his next novel in her skin (he obliged; who wouldn't?). Quite simply the best gift for any book lover this year, perhaps ever.'
– Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times, Literary Book of the Year
'An astonishing book about books... This profusely illustrated book is a bibliophile’s dream: massive books, tiny books, coded books, books of fathomless eccentricity – they are all here. One of the most amusing and engaging books to be published for years.’
– Alexander McCall-Smith, New Statesman
‘Fabulously entertaining…a tour of the world, a cross-cultural paean to literary ingenuity in all its forms. The book itself is a handsome tome, full of extraordinary images: illuminated manuscripts, visions of the Devil, early anatomical texts. It is a strangely hopeful book: humankind in all its wild variety, set down somehow on paper.’
– Erica Wagner, Financial Times
'The most beautiful objects in literature. You're going to love this. Extraordinary'
– Dan Snow
‘The strangest books ever written, from tomes bound in human skin to a bible that conceals a pistol and a passage of Martian writing channelled through a psychic. A cornucopia of curiosities. Spellbinding…a fascinating tome.’
– Daily Mail
'Brooke-Hitching’s prose is elegant and witty [and] the images...make the book a real joy'
'Intriguing...it is a bibliophile's paradise, bringing together the weirdest and most eccentric books ever published. It is a treasure trove of peculiarity, presented in the most captivating way.'
– The Lady, Books of the Year
‘Sit back and enjoy the ride as the book sails off into ever more outlandish territory…The Madman’s Library owes as much to his journalistic eye for a good story as it does to bibliographic expertise. It fairly barrels along, delivering a riot of colourful episodes and even more colourful images. Special mention should be made of the illustrations, in fact, since they carry the book every bit as much as the text…This is a book to dip into, browse, fondle and ogle rather than read cover to cover. For bibliophiles who have missed the serendipitous delights of actual libraries over the past few months, it’s the ideal tonic.’
– Gill Partington, Literary Review
‘This riotous history of weird and wonderful books… It’s suitably lively…but never loses sight of the history among the hijinks.’
– History Revealed
'For a bibliophile's reading pleasure, Brooke-Hitching brings together weird and wondrous tomes from antiquity and all corners of the globe.'
– Saga magazine
'The book veers from compulsively gross to deliciously odd, but always fascinating.'
– Francesca Carington, Tatler