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Books That Bite

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Image by Hawanja.
Used with permission.

"Oh, I get it. It's a book of biting satire."

Sometimes, when enough magic or Phlebotinum has seeped into the area, the inanimate objects get... animate. They might not be actively hostile, but they often show a mischievous sense of humor — moving about at random, running away from grasping hands, floating, knocking objects off tables, etc. And yes, sometimes Moby-Dick has molars or Finnegan's Wake gets fangy... but that's a sorcerer's library for you. Watch your fingers.

Not all the objects have to be books to qualify for this trope, of course. Floating candelabra can be just as dangerous, especially when lit. And naturally there needs to be at least one vacuum cleaner...

See also Chest Monster. Frequently found in places with Everything Trying to Kill You.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes had Calvin's book suddenly come to life and eat his homework before attacking him. Or at least that was the reason he gave Miss Wormwood for why his homework wasn't done.

    Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, Brox's scheme to restore monsters to Baravada centers on a spell that turns inorganic objects into living creatures. The Ghost City of Ehndris is subsequently filled with "Nasty Bits," as the four dub them—everything from little crab-like chunks of walking concrete and clumps of glass shards that act like spiders, to boulders with tentacles and fangs, to stone columns with vertical mouths, to living bedframes. Ironically for the name of this trope, books wouldn't be affected because they're organic. Valuables like gems and swords aren't affected either.
  • In A New World, the books in the Scarlet Devil Mansion library have been heavily enchanted for a wide array of defensive purposes. It has been a long time since anyone was sure of how many layers of protection have been placed over the books, so when a band of unwary invaders is lured into the library and the books triggered to attack, they wind up unleashing a maelstrom of every kind of magic available.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the fake Necronomicons bites Ash's hand in the graveyard scene in Army of Darkness.

  • Harry Potter:
    • The Monster Book of Monsters, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a monster that is simultaneously a book about monsters, if you can get it to stay open long enough to read without it closing on your hand and biting it off. It turns completely docile if you stroke it, but the students weren't too keen on getting near it.
    • Apparently, there's also an "Invisible Book of Invisibility." ("Cost a fortune, and we never found them.")
    • Madame Pince has put various spells on her books to protect them from mistreatment. In Quidditch Through the Ages, Dumbledore recalls how he once started doodling in the margins without thinking and found the book beating him around the head the next second.
  • While this didn't originally apply to the Necronomicon, it's a common trait in adaptations. What better way to advertise a Tome of Eldritch Lore than having it possibly kill you before you even read it?
  • Discworld: The magic books inside the Unseen University's Library have to be chained to their shelves. Sourcery describes a few of the books. The Necrotelicomnocon is bound in iron plates, the Guide to Levitation has been floating in the rafters for about a hundred and fifty years, and the Booke of Forbidden Sex Majyk is kept in a deep-frozen room and should only be read if you are over the age of 80 and, if possible, dead.
    • To make matters worse, the books, apart from a fair number of them being able to rip the skin from your bones, they can read each other and learn methods to kill you with everything from magic to a door handle. There's a very good reason why the students only venture into the library in large numbers (or scouting expeditions).
    • The Octavo, the creator's own grimoire is so powerful that it can overload the most powerful anti-magic spell in existence and change reality.
  • In Rainbows End, the library at the University in San Diego has these, although they're purely virtual and only visible to people who are "wearing". Nevertheless, they're as real as any of the other e-books the library has. They were created as an in-universe Shout-Out to Discworld.
  • In So You Want to Be a Wizard?, the protagonists end up in a pocket-universe version of Manhattan which has no human inhabitants, but where everything from cars to elevators to fire hydrants is animate, and mostly malevolent. One of the characters gets bitten by a keyhole!
  • According to Dave Barry, every year a taxpayer is randomly chosen for an audit and thrown into the room containing the US tax code and the door hastily shut. There's some screaming and burping noises, and the next day the tax code is just a little thicker.
  • Children's book The Book That Eats People claims to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Variants of this (killer candles, etc.) are some of the weakest monsters available for players to fight, generally used as a challenge for loner characters at level 1.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay sourcebook Tome of Corruption has a section on grimoires - at least one of them is daemonically possessed and will attack people.

    Video Games 
  • The entire premise of the Gaia Online MMORPG zOMG! is that inanimate objects have become, well, Animated!
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V: The possessed books don't themselves bite, but the demons inside them take forms based on their pictures when they attack, often switching forms during battle. (They're known for the occasional party wipe, as some cast Level 5 Death,note  and you enter the library around level 25).
    • Final Fantasy IX: The book monster had poisonous fangs. Possibly a Mythology Gag to the aforementioned books from V, given the sheer number of references IX had to past games.
  • Donkey Kong 64 : There are monster books in the Creepy Castle Library.
  • Overlord Zetta in Makai Kingdom ends up becoming one of these. He doesn't bite, but he does possess Eye Beams that vary in strength from simply being really painful to causing explosions the size of a small nuke. In his cameo appearances in other Nippon Ichi games, he almost always attempts to blast someone with them after they mistake him for a normal book.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: There are two varieties. The first type merely flies at you and tries to slam into you. The second type opens up and tries to skewer you with an array of magically summoned weapons.
  • EarthBound: There are a lot of monsters like this.
  • King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne: In the Fan Remake, one of the puzzles involves Graham solving a riddle at a bookshelf. If he gets it wrong, he is eaten by the bookshelf's guardian.
  • Ridewords and Deathwords in Ragnarok Online.
  • Baten Kaitos has them in the library.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (most versions) has a level set in the library. You will regularly get the shit beaten out of you by books flying in and out of the shelves.
  • Secret of Mana: Books that attack (largely via casting magic) are a recurring enemy. They also have the rare chance of displaying a naughty centerfold!
  • In Super Mario 64's Big Boo's Haunt course, the books in the library don't bite, but they do fling themselves out of the shelves to attack Mario. An adjacent room also contains an animated piano whose lid opens up to reveal sharp teeth and will leap around chasing after Mario.
  • In Touhou Koumakyou ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, the books in the Scarlet Devil Mansion's library don't bite. They just fire enormous waves of bullets and lasers... and they like to attack in swarms.
  • Hearthstone has Babbling Book as a Mage minion, among various other Animate Inanimate Objects around Karazhan. It's presumed to be normally docile, but has gone berserk with Medivh missing.
  • A few appear in Enter the Gungeon, specifically, in the Keep of the Lead Lord. Like every other enemy in the game, they attack with Bullet Hell patterns.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, animate books are common recurring Mooks that attack by shooting bolts of magic at your Servants; several Palette Swap versions also possess different skills/abilities.

  • Sinfest: Criminy received a demon book as a gift from Fuchsia. He learned to tame it (with bookmarks), and now it's like a fiercely-loyal guard dog that also makes for good reading.
  • The Evil Flying Book from Axe Cop did this.

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. episode "Trial of the Monarch" has Dr. Orpheus getting sworn in to testify - he suggests substituting the Bible for his book of choice, the Necronomicon, warning the bailiff "Watch your fingers - he's a nibbler!"
  • In The Smurfs episode "Papa's Family Album," the evil imp wizard Hotap in Papa Smurf's flashback story turned Brainy's book into one of these, which then chased after Brainy until Papa Smurf turned it back into a normal book again.


Video Example(s):


The Monster Book of Monsters

Hogwarts assigns some weird textbooks.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BooksThatBite

Media sources:

Main / BooksThatBite