Top 20 Reading Lists

Book Blog

Story of Penguin Publishing

Rare and Collectible Books

National Book Awards


Carnival in Paris by Natalie Savage Carlson

Who’d have thought a festival could generate so many diverse books? The Latin parties of Rio de Janeiro, Venice and Louisiana’s various Mardi Gras events are world famous but this Roman Catholic-based pre-Lent festival also occurs in the Caribbean, Germany’s Rhineland, Denmark, Portugal and various cities in South America with countless regional variations (including, oddly enough, the Protestant-based Shrove Tuesday celebration in Britain) along the way.

Many of these events are so colorful, so vibrant, so eye-catching that they have sparked photo-books, and books about the costumes, customs and masks. Carnival has also inspired travel books, children’s stories, cook books and fiction too.

This feature also extends to the less glamorous but just as interesting small-town touring carnivals and fairs of Britain and the U.S. – the rides, the freak shows, the architecture and even America’s carnival-carrying trains have been subjected to analysis and the camera.

 

 

Twenty Carnival Books

Carnival Glass: The Magic and the Mystery by Glen Steven Thistlewood

Carnival Glass: The Magic and the Mystery
Glen Steven Thistlewood

Over 300 color photographs and 200 black and white illustrations of carnival glass patterns.
Mardi Gras Customs Costumes by Suzanne Smith Pruchnicki

Mardi Gras Customs and Costumes
Suzanne Smith Pruchnicki

The only copy on AbeBooks, limited to 60 copies and signed by the author.
New Orleans Carnival Cook Book

New Orleans Carnival Cook Book

Published by Women's Republican Publications of New Orleans in 1951. Rare.
City of the Mardi Gras by Martin Yoseloff & Harry De Vore

City of the Mardi Gras
Martin Yoseloff & Harry DeVore

Fifty pen and ink drawings of New Orleans accompanied by historical commentary.
The Fabulous World of the Carnival by Paul Horsman

The Fabulous World of the Carnival
Paul Horsman

An insight into the world of traveling carnivals, packed with photos.
Carnival in Venice by Shirley & David Rowen

Carnival in Venice
Shirley & David Rowen

A stunning 1989 color photography book showcasing the surreal and spectacular.
Carnival Bound by Russell Bruce

Carnival Bound
Russell Bruce

A 1956 travel book where an Australian visits the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and finally Rio.
A Decade of the Sydney Mardi Gras by Elio Loccisano

A Decade of the Sydney Mardi Gras
Elio Loccisano

A hefty paperback, published in 1998, filled with images from one of Sydney’s top snappers.
Carnival! by Barbara Mauldin

Carnival
Barbara Mauldin

The 2004 book examines the festival in four rural settings and 11 urban ones.
After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti by Edwidge Danticat

After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti
Edwidge Danticat

Published in 2002, one of Haiti’s top writers returns to her homeland and considers carnival.
Corpse at the Carnival by George Bellairs

Corpse at the Carnival
George Bellairs

First published in 1958 - Bellairs was the nom de plume of Harold Blundell, a bank manager.
Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination by Rachel Adams

Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination
Rachel Adams

A serious study of the carnival freakshow during its heyday prior to World War II.
Those Wonderful, Colorful & Exciting Carnival Trains by Bob Goldsack

Those Wonderful, Colorful & Exciting Carnival Trains
Bob Goldsack

A remarkable 1991 photo-book about the trains carrying carnivals and circuses.
Fairground Architecture. The World of Amusement Parks, Carnivals, and Fairs by David Braithwaite

Fairground Architecture. The World of Amusement Parks, Carnivals, and Fairs
David Braithwaite

A gem from 1968 – photos, drawings, scale plans, and even a glossary of carnival terms.
Fairground Art: The Art Forms of Traveling Fairs, Carousels, and Carnival Midways by Geoffrey Weedon & Richard Ward

Fairground Art: The Art Forms of Traveling Fairs, Carousels, and Carnival Midways
Geoffrey Weedon & Richard Ward

First published in 1981, this books displays the rich history of fairground carving and imagery.
A Pictorial History of the American Carnival by Joe McKennon

A Pictorial History of the American Carnival
Joe McKennon

There are three volumes of this book published in the 1970s and 1980s.
Little Grey Rabbit's Pancake Day by Alison Uttley

Little Grey Rabbit’s Pancake Day
Alison Uttley

From the author of the Sam Pig stories, published in 1967. Illustrations by Margaret Tempest.
The Sleep of Reason by Lyle Bonge

The Sleep of Reason: Lyle Bonge's Ultimate Ash-Hauling Mardi Gras Photographs
Lyle Bonge

A rare 1974 photo-book with 50+ images and an interview with Bonge by James Leo Herlihy

Carnival Masks of Venice by J.C. Brown

Carnival Masks of Venice: A Photographic Essay
J.C. Brown

A book with 125 photos of this city’s ancient ritual of wearing masks at carnival.
Carnival Strippers by Susan Meiselas

Carnival Strippers
Susan Meiselas

A 1976 photo-book about the strippers of touring small-town carnivals. First editions are rare.


Like this? You might also like Books Signed by the Rich and Famous.