Lift-alikes: Books That Work Your Biceps

Sure, e-books are convenient, you can fit hundreds on a device that fits in your pocket, and no one will catch you reading 50 Shades of Grey on the train. But there’s one place where print books will never, ever be beaten: their ability to Pump. You. Up.

Booklist regularly gets some heavyweights in the mail, and few trips back and forth between book truck and circ counter with these babies are sure to leave you feeling toned and fit. And maybe a little sweaty. Bonus points for lifting them to the top shelf (my triceps ache just thinking about it).

Life-size birds, life-size hernia.

Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition. By John James Audubon and Joel Oppenheimer. 2013. 256p. illus. Norton, $350 (978-0-393-08865-6).

This beautiful monster is 15 pounds of offset reprints of John James Audubon’s iconic illustrations of American birds in a handsome cloth-bound slipcase (accounting for at least 1 of those pounds). Before beginning your workout, make sure you peruse the more than 100 plates. You’ll want to sit down, of course, because of the spellbinding beauty and the cumbersome 15”x23” trim size.

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. By Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and others. 2011. 2,400p. illus. The Cooking Lab, $625 (9780982761007).

This one’s a bit of a cheater because it comprises six separate volumes, but with everything you need to know about the science of cooking—even a whole chapter on water—Myhrvold and his colleagues are certainly justified in publishing such a hefty text. Boxed together at 52 pounds in a clear slipcase, it’s the heaviest of the bunch, so novice shelvers should practice with individual volumes before attempting to lug the entire set to the stacks.

We couldn’t quite squeeze this one into the latest spotlight.

The Photography of Modernist Cuisine. By Nathan Myrhvold. 2013. 312p. illus. The Cooking Lab, $120 (9780982761021).

What this title lacks in actual weight (at 13 pounds, it’s in the featherweight class of this roundup), it makes up for in scale—packed with beautiful full-color close ups of everything from lychee nuts to beef brisket, this in-depth look at the photography of Myrhvold’s six-volume doorstop has the dimensions to match. At 14”x18”, it’s approximately the size of two sheet cakes (which, incidentally, you totally deserve after several reshelvings of this book).

Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection. By Chris Claremont, Warren Ellis, and others. 2013. 720p. illus. Marvel, $200 (9780785167891).

A hero as epic as Wolverine deserves more than merely an omnibus edition, and he gets it in this aptly named 19 ½ pound collected volume of classic and contemporary Wolverine tales reprinted in full color and on glossy (read: heavy) paper. With this bench-pressable volume in your collection, you’ll have superhero strength before you can say “Snikt!”




About the Author:

When Sarah Hunter is not reading for her job as senior editor at Booklist, she's baking something tasty or planning trips to the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Twitter at @SarahBearHunter.

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