The most beautiful German book of 2021: what is it about and what does it look like? | Culture and lifestyle in Germany and Europe DW

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“The most beautiful German books” are chosen every year in Germany. In this way, the country’s book industry is trying to remind the general public that books are not only content, but also the work of designers, and sometimes real works of art. The competition for the title of the most beautiful book is held by the Stiftung Buchkunst. The winners meet the highest aesthetic and functional requirements for books.

In general, the “most beautiful books” since 2012, the fund selects 25 pieces per season. But only one of them is awarded a prize of 10,000 euros, which was established in 1984. In 2021, the book “Man kann keine Steine ​​essen” (“You can’t eat stones”) was recognized and awarded the prize. publishing house Prima.Publikationen.

Zen cookbook

The author of the winning book is the Japanese sculptor Shinroku Shimokawa. And it is based on his culinary and aesthetic research. The book uses his recipes and photographs. This work of art was created in collaboration with German graphic artists Clara Neumann and Christina Schmid. “You can’t eat stones” is both a cookbook and an art album. In it, the sculptor presents recipes and ingredients of regional Japanese cuisine, intertwining them with narratives inspired by Zen philosophy. Contains a book and photos of kitchen utensils made by the author.

The jury, which selected the winner, was attracted by the minimalist design of the publication, printed on matte paper, and the special tactile quality of the cover, which turns the book itself into a kind of sculpture. And the dialogue between culinary and sculptural motifs, as pointed out by jury member Julia Kahl, creates an atmosphere that is both calm and tense.

Why do you need beautiful books?

In 2021, 25 “most beautiful German books” were selected from 632 publications. Books from not only German but also foreign publishers can take part in the competition, provided that the technical production was carried out exclusively in Germany. All genres are allowed in the competition: from fiction and school textbooks to art albums and guidebooks.

The Stiftung Buchkunst, based in Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig, has been monitoring German book publishing since 1966 and aims to improve the technical and artistic quality of books.

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