March 30, 2012

Library plans second annual Edible Books Festival

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Creativity and imagination meet taste bud treats in a unique artistic exploration at the second annual Morris Library Edible Books Festival.

The festival is set for April 13 on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus and all students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to participate. Entry is free.  Just bring your edible books to the library rotunda, in the northeast corner of the first floor, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. that day.

This festival celebrates how we “take in” culture and serves as a unique vehicle for sharing books.  It’s also a reflection of our attachment to food and cultural differences, according to Megan Lotts, fine arts librarian and assistant professor. 

The library’s premiere event in 2011 drew a wide assortment of imaginative entries, each with a title referencing an actual book title and each made of “edible” ingredients.  There was the grand prize winning “Blueberries for Sal,” along with “Tequilla Mockingbird,” “Green Eggs and Spam,” “The House of Seven Gay Bulls,” Heart of Darkness” among others. “Old Main and the Sea” featured a giant model of the University’s Old Main building sitting beside a fisherman on a lake.  Not surprisingly, “The Electric Kool-aid” predominately included the children’s soft drink while the popular Easter marshmallow candy treat was the focus of “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Peep.”

There will be prizes for the “punniest,” best book structure, most edible, least edible and the public’s choice.  Winner of the grand prize best-of-show award will get an Amazon Kindle.  Judging follows the entry session and afterward, the event concludes with everyone “eating words” as they consume the works that are indeed actually edible in their finished form. 

The Edible Books Festival is an international event, taking place sometime around the April Fool’s Day birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826).  Brillat-Savarin authored the famous and witty food meditation entitled “Physiologie du gout.”  The books inspired Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron to create the International Edible Book Festival, now celebrated around the world (

The 2011 event at SIU Carbondale inspired dozens of creative entries and brought a large crowd to the library.  Find photos online at

Morris Library and The Friends of Morris Library are sponsoring the 2012 event.  For more information, contact Julie Mosbo, preservation librarian, at (618/453-2947) or Lotts at (618/453-2663).