Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man
from Simon & Schuster
(hardcover 2017 | paperback 2014)
It all began 1986 when a pair of friends burned an eight-foot-tall effigy on Baker Beach in San Francisco in front of an impromptu audience of twenty. Two decades later Burning Man has evolved into a dazzling annual extravaganza dedicated to radical self-reliance and self-expression, attracting nearly forty thousand people. These revelersan eclectic mix of punks, geeks, families, ravers, grad students, gearheads, hippies, and tourists—turn the ancient lakebed of Nevada's Black Rock Desert into a bustling city that exists for one glorious week before disappearing in a cloud of ashes and dust.
Burning Book is both a loving commemoration of the event's storied history and an enlightening companion for festivalgoers. Bruder explores the unique ethos and breathtaking art installations that have shaped the event, along with Black Rock City's distinctive landmarks, pranks, lore, and gift-based economy. Illustrated with hundreds of stunning photographs, Burning Book is a striking tribute to an extraordinary cultural phenomenon for the legions who participate in Burning Man every year, and for those who haven't become part of this unforgettable celebration—yet.
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Praise for Burning Book
Winner: First Place, special trade division, 2008 New York Book Fair (link)
The judges said: “We love the design of this book. Every single page feels exciting to look at. The typography is innovative, loud, crazy, expressive and a total joyride.”
"It has been said that describing the Burning Man Festival to the uninitiated is a little like describing a color to a blind person. I think it's more like describing a color to someone who's colorblind but just won't admit it....Now, thanks to Jessica Bruder, a reporter for the Oregonian, you can simply hand these people 'Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man' and let them come up with their own descriptions.
Bruder's project...allows you to plant yourself at the scene and wallow in it, with your faculties and filters unclouded by an author's personal agenda." (The Los Angeles Times 8/27/07)
"Combining hundreds of photos (many taken by Ms. Bruder) of the place, the players, the props and the art with streamers of ecstatic text, 'Burning Book' is a scrapbook for pinwheel-eyed firebugs who just may hook a new generation."
(The New York Times, 8/19/07)
"This is pretty much like the best Burning Man scrapbook, ever – you know, the one you always wanted to make, but you just couldn’t get your shit together enough to do it...But more than just the imagery, it’s the writing I especially love – Jess has a way
with words that vividly captures the experience of what it’s like to be out here on the playa and spotlights some of the people and projects unique to Burning Man culture. Highly-recommended." (Piss Clear, 8/27-8/28; full scan here)
"Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man by Jessica Bruder breaks free of its print shackles: It's great fun, and great fodder for daydreaming." (San Diego Union Tribune, 9/2/17; full review here)
SMITH Magazine ran an interview & a photo essay excerpted from the book, all in one attractive package here.
"Bruder's 352 pages are jammed with a scrapbook-style explosion of color photos (many by the author), quirky typography and layout, and a freewheeling but comprehensive narrative. " (Albequerque Journal 8/26/07)
"A reporter for The Oregonian, Bruder draws on years of personal experience and extensive interviews; she surrounds the photos with vivid and alluring prose which captures the atmosphere, as well as any words can, of an event that works very hard to be uncapturable in words. Like Burning Man itself, her book is spontaneous and well-organized, thoughtful and frivolous, sweeping and intimate." (Seattle Weekly, 8/12/07)
"Now at last comes a book that manages to capture the magic and craziness of Burning Man in well-told words and dazzling color photography...Bruder, 29, is a veteran of five Burning Mans and brings a savvy eye to its eye-popping proceedings, its reason-defying rituals, its key players and characters, as well as its intense and uninhibited atmosphere." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/9/07)
***8/1/07*** PDX Magazine ran the first feature on the book.