Winner 2015 Best New Fiction, International Book Award

Winner 2015 Best Cover Design, Fiction, International Book Award

Winner 2015 Wild Card Award, Paris Book Festival

Winner 2014 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Outstanding Book of the Year Award for MOST ORIGINAL CONCEPT.
“A stunningly unique take on the novel that unabashedly explores the relationship between the narrator and reader, as well as the fragile and often blurry line that distinguishes truth and fiction. With A Life In Books, Lehrer has upended the modern novel form and its narrative limitations, creating a rich and engaging story through visual literature… Mind-blowing… reality bending… a laugh riot and a visual feast.”

Winner 2014 Best New Fiction Award USA Best Books Awards

Winner Next Generation Indie Book Award

Winner Print Magazine Regional Design Award (NYC)

Winner National Indie Book Award

Winner CBAA Exhibition Prize College Book Art Association Bi- Annual Juried Exhibition

Shortlist Sheffield International Artists’ Book Prize

Finalist 2015 Best Interior Design, International Book Awards

Finalist 2014 Best Cover Design, Fiction, USA Best Books Awards

“In A Life In Books, Warren Lehrer has written a profound commentary on this nausea-inducing unique moment in the grand transition from Silly Mind to Machine Mind. Amusingly and smartly enough, he may have helped transition ‘the last great American novel’ to the first ‘great illustrated novel’ which is how novels started. A Life In Books is brilliant, beautiful, delicious for eyes and mind.” Andrei Codrescu poet, novelist, journalist, public radio commentator

“In Warren Lehrer’s ingenious, one-of-a-kind novel, A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, we see all the covers of all 101 books supposedly written by the narrator over the last several decades… A tour-de-force!” Kurt Andersen Studio 360

“For anyone who has ever resisted judging a book by its cover, now’s your chance: In A Life In Books, author and graphic design visionary Warren Lehrer crafts a vivid kaleidoscopic odyssey that frames one man’s life through not one, but one hundred different books—and book jackets. In this quirky, yet unmistakably modern evocation of the illuminated manuscript, Lehrer’s book reminds us that we are what we do. And, for that matter, what we publish.” Jessica Helfand graphic designer, writer, educator, founding editor Design Observer

“A meticulously illustrated chronicle… Lehrer’s 101 cover designs for Mobley’s books are pitch perfect. And like the best film title sequences, which establish moods or introduce plotlines, these fictional covers are vehicles by which Lehrer illuminates Mobley’s tale of success and failure… Lehrer has created a parallel art world” Steven Heller The Atlantic

A Life In Books is a book-lover’s fictional treat of books that never were. At first when we look at this extraordinary book, it looks like it’s going to be a funny book, with crazy, zany events. But A Life In Books is ultimately about how the sadness of life is transformed into art. The book is about survival, and how life requires constant adjustment, constant compromise, and the will to find the funny line at which you won’t compromise… By the end, Bleu Mobley is surviving in jail. We understand everything he does step by step because he takes us with him down his path, from the print shop of his junior high where he falls in love with everything about letters and words, to his reinvention as a writer of best sellers in order to support his daughter’s medical expenses, and his ultimate refusal to sell out a confidential source… As Whitman said, ‘I contain multitudes,’ and Bleu Mobley contains 101 books. Wonderful!” Michael Silverblatt Bookworm, KCRW

“An ingenious first novel filled with over 100 provocative titles all written by Lehrer’s protagonist author who finds himself in prison looking back on his life and work, fictions and realities. Mobley recalls his life growing up in a public housing project in Queens, becoming a journalist, professor, bestselling author, pundit, and finally prisoner for refusing (timely enough) to reveal a confidential source.” Sam Roberts The New York Times Close Up

“Warren Lehrer has spent a decade writing and designing a book that is way more than a book. A blend of writing and design, which extends to performance art… A Life in Books is a typographical and design tour de force.” Ellen Shapiro Print Magazine

A Life In Books challenges readers to rethink the relations of the novel to the image, and of the whole book to our contemporary world… Lehrer’s acclaimed and influential

1984 book French Fries broke the grid—and possibly the crystal goblet—creating a work in which the design was not mere accessory to story but an integral mode of its performance. In A Life In Books, he continues to make design a constitutive element, telling the story of the fictional author Bleu Mobley through book covers, fonts, supporting documents, illustrations, and a series of concepts for innovative books… While Mobley’s early books are aggressively experimental, his prodigious output spawns bestsellers… thus Mobley becomes something of a microcosm of the commercial publishing industry, its aesthetic and its flaws. In many ways, A Life In Books succeeds beautifully as a hybrid between the graphic novel and the novel… and suggests new potentials for popular literary fiction to break with the older tradition of the illustrated novel by making the images take part fully in telling the story. Lehrer’s book has been winning awards and warm reviews almost everywhere, strongly suggesting that his innovative novel is finding its audience.” David Banash Eye Magazine

“A tour de force of graphic design, illustration and writing. Exploiting a wide range of illustration styles to delight the eye, Lehrer offers a funny, thought-provoking and refreshing twist on the graphic novel… Guaranteed to bring a smile.” Ken Carbone Huffington Post

A Life In Books is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, boldly integrating illustration and typography into its engaging story.” David Gutowski Largehearted Boy

“In A Life in Books, Lehrer has designed a sort of Chinese puzzle whose myriad ideas, stories and characters—from all parts of the globe—intersect, overlap, and dovetail… [It is] a tale of growing up, marriage, fatherhood, physical incapacity, healing, poverty, financial success, incarceration, and continuous self-reflection. Lehrer is adept at representing our multicultural society, which for him means not a sociological construct but the lives and struggles of real people. Like Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and Ben Katchor, Lehrer participates in the search for fresh and innovative ways to show, as well as tell, his many stories. Astonishing.” Robert Berlind The Brooklyn Rail

“In the era of cookie-cutter books and rubber-stamped stories, Warren Lehrer’s A Life In Books is fresh, original, idiosyncratic, beautiful, and important.” Rabih Alameddine novelist and painter, author of Koolaids, The Perv, Hakawati, and I, the Divine

“Warren Lehrer’s invented bibliography is a brilliant, ambitious, and compelling novel… A bold work of the imagination, A Life In Books is an “illuminated novel,” in the sense of Mobley’s memoir being lit up by a retrospective monograph of his work, and so many visual touches that make dipping into the book so much fun. The essential backstory turns out to be about what the future holds for books as material objects. I truly hope this audacious novel gets the attention it so richly deserves.” Nicholas Basbanes Fine Books & Collections

“Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books deserves broad recognition. It provides a profound reflection on narrative and the boundaries of truth and fiction, as well as on writing and the status of the book as a medium. It broadens the scope of authorship through its use of beautifully designed covers and well-crafted expressive typography, as well as textually, through a very fluid, readable and witty writing style encompassing many genres, discourses, and invented genres… Its protagonist Bleu Mobley paints a panoramic portrait of America— of humanity—one person at a time, frequently giving voice to ordinary people, to the rejected and disenfranchised… A micro-history of book-making, this book indeed lives up to its title: the life of Mobley is told through the books which illuminate the novel, and the reader is offered a behind-the-scenes look at the artist and the creative process. Lehrer is a book composer, as Bleu Mobley would have it, and his composition is well worth interacting with.” Kristof Van Gansen Image [&] Narrative

“Warren Lehrer is witty, ingenious, sly, serious, a graphic wizard and literary innovator. His crazily ambitious illuminated novel uses art and artifice to test our assumptions about how life is supposed to be in modern America… So much more than a book, A Life In Books is an experience… at once revealing and mysterious, a commentary on ego, celebrity and American society… It plays like literary jazz: Lehrer’s fingers pumping up and down on the keys, laying down pungent notes, sparkling phrases, lilting tunes about who we are and where we are going.” Dan Bailes The Vision Thing

“In scope, execution and ambition, A Life In Books is an extraordinary book. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before… There is also a contest, a traveling exhibition with video, and a performance/reading tour…” Lucy Sisman Wwword

“An entertaining and provocative work that combines text and graphic art in a fascinating way. What attracted me straightaway was the splendor of color: page after page you encounter cover designs invented by Lehrer, along with text that uses at least 60 different typefaces. You can read Lehrer’s book in different ways—I kept going back and forth between the stories within the stories of Bleu Mobley’s work and his confessional. In ‘Riveted in the Word’ a scholar struggles to regain language after a massive stroke; In ‘The Sitter’ a 101-year-old woman, considered by most to have lost her marbles, is still pretty sharp and philosophical. Bleu’s line of book lamps, light up a table and give it a warm literary feeling… Marvelous!” Pradeep Sebastian The Hindu

A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, a gorgeously produced multi-color ‘novel,’ is a brilliant meditation on the state of publishing in the 21st Century. What is truth? What is fiction? Who is ‘me,’ am I my nom de plume, &

time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu’s Book Lamps, you’ll be laughing through your tears… I can’t think of a better gift.” Tsiviah Huttner Second City Tzivi

A Life In Books is unique, incredible, affecting, meticulous, the perfect hide-and-seek game, and honestly, one of those works that seems so obvious and fertile as a structure, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before. Am I gushing? I just love it. This is an important book.” Stephen Farrell design innovator, Vas An Opera In Flatland and Toc: A New Media Novel

“The coolest book ever.” Designers and Books

“Stories told with humor, pathos, poetry, drama and the absurd…” Brownstoner Queens

“In his gloriously-illustrated novel A Life in Books, Warren Lehrer delves deep into the odysseys of the mind. Moving seamlessly between reality and fiction, A Life In Books entrances the reader into a wonderous vortex of a life which, for all intents and purposes, actually feels like it may have happened. Despite the fact that the book feels in large part like a comedy, there are profound ideas and thoughts that will linger around in your head; on the state of being a writer in the modern world, the power books have to help us understand ourselves, what can and cannot be trusted as real in literature, who a writer becomes once his ideas spill over into the perspectives of their various characters. A Life in Books will have you laughing in tears and pondering the search for identity and self-understanding through literature. I can do nothing but recommend this book to those looking for philosophy alongside their comedy.” David Ben Efraim Quick Book Reviews

“The indefatigable hero of Warren Lehrer’s hilarious tour de force, has created 101 books of all shapes, subjects, and genres. Mobley is as complex and idiosyncratic as the range of books he has made, and Lehrer’s extraordinary design reflects his hero’s colorful complexity.” JAB (Journal of Book Arts)

“Warren Lehrer has built a career collapsing the boundaries that most of us take for granted. Blazing a new path, A Life In Books proves that motion design and literature (among other things) need not be strangers… Creating an “illuminated novel” today could be interpreted as nostalgic, but the hardcover book, enhanced by animations and a multimedia performance is decidedly high-tech, a hyperlink mosaic of multimedia.” Justin Cone Motionographer

“. . . a beautiful fictional autobiography of an immensely prolific writer. . . A Life In Books is one of the most typographically and graphically impressive books I’ve ever encountered.” Book Dust Flying

“Hilarious… thrilling… genre-crossing… One of only a handful of makers of the past few decades who have consistently created longer form works claimed by the canon-makers as part of the fledgling field that is sometimes called Artists’ Books, Warren Lehrer’s new ‘illuminated novel’ tells the story of a fictional writer, designer, raconteur, entrepreneur, and eventual prisoner… Mobley’s 101 books form a kind of history of public intellectualism, resonant with people like Buckminster Fuller, William Gaddis and the Oulipo movement. Mobley’s oeuvre and narrative is very funny, of course, but in a sad-but-true kind of way.” Tate Shaw Afterimage

“In A Life In Books, Lehrer has kneaded together a memoir, interviews that he ‘conducted’ with his (faux) author protagonist, and a retrospective survey of the author’s 101 books, into one of the most exciting (auto-)biographical novels in recent years… In A Life In Books he has created and developed a total literary life, embedding book covers, select page interiors, reviews and letters—into the text, with unbelievable care.”

András Váradi Élet és Irodalom (weekly Hungarian literary and political magazine)

A Life In Books is a literary multimedia satirical romp through the last half century of publishing with all its conceits and marketing tricks from ‘Outsourcing Grandma’ to toilet paper poems and a childrens books on capital punishment ‘How Bad People Go Bye Bye.’ Wonderful!” Edgy Lit Selected Best Books 2013

A Life In Books is unlike any book I’ve every read before. For anyone who loves books—ALIB is a really interesting look at the life of an author, and how the books that he has written grew out of his life experiences. You will encounter books within A Life In Books that you will wish were real books… An amazing and very beautiful book.” Michael Kindness Books On The Nightstand Selected BOOKS WE CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO READ

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Winner of 9 Awards including Independent Publisher’s Outstanding Book of the Year Award, the International Book Award for Best New Fiction, and a Print Magazine Regional Design Award.

A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is an illuminated novel that contains 101 books within it, all written and designed by Lehrer’s author- protagonist, Bleu Mobley. Nearly a year after the controversial author is thrown into a federal prison for refusing to reveal the name of a con dential source, he decides to break his silence. But it’s not as simple as giving up a name to the grand jury. Over the course of one long night, in the darkness of his prison cell, he whispers his life story into a microcassette recorder, tracing his journey from the public housing project of his youth to a career as a journalist, then experimental novelist, college professor, accidental bestselling author, pop-culture pundit, and unindicted prisoner. In A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, Mobley’s autobiography/apologia is paired with a review of all 101 of his books. Each book is represented by its rst edition cover design and catalogue copy, and 34 of the books are excerpted. The resulting retrospective contrasts the published writings (which read like short-short stories) with the author’s confessional memoir, forming a most unusual portrait of a well-intentioned, obsessively inventive (but ethically challenged) visionary.

Written and designed by Warren Lehrer, A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is an extraordinarily original, hilarious, heartwarming and heart- wrenching exploration of one man’s use of books as a means of understanding himself, the people around him, and a half century of American/global events. This genre-defying work orchestrates a symphony of characters: lovers, enemies, runaways, rebels, thinkers, dreamers, believers, skeptics, the displaced and dispossessed, even forgotten moons and wily old cats. It celebrates the mysteries and contradictions of the creative process, grapples with the future of the book as a medium and the lines that separate and blur truth, myth, and ction. This four color, full-length novel—containing over 101 hilarious and scrumptious book cover designs (and book-like objects) designed by Lehrer with illustrations by Lehrer, Melina Rodrigo and Donna Chang—is a fusion of art and literature, and distinguishes itself as one of those books you want to hold in your hands, read, look at, re-read, share with friends, and treasure for years to come.

A LIFE IN BOOKS: hardcover, 7.5” x 9.75”, 380 page, 4 color throughout, smythe sewn, printed on acid free paper free paper. Suggested retail price: $35.

ISBN 978-1-939621-02-3 Distributed by PGW (Publishers Group West)
















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Some Mobley book covers and A LIFE IN BOOKS page details



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A few titles published under Mobley’s (self-help) nom de plume Dr. Sky Jacobs


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Use A LIFE IN BOOKS as a teaching tool: as a text and a resource in Creative Writing, College Freshman Writing, Writing for Artists, Writing for Designers, Graphic Design, Illustration, Book Arts, Fiction Writing, Short Story Writing, Ethics, Semiotics, and Critical Issues (in Contemporary Literature and Art) classes, as well as for workshops in Unleashing Creativity, or any of the above subjects.

With the help of a STUDY GUIDE, students can use A LIFE IN BOOKS as a point of departure to generate their own book ideas, titles, catalog copy, cover designs, and book excerpts. By developing book ideas laterally, writing titles, catalog copy, and then excerpts (of short story length), students build confidence incrementally, leading them up to more long form writing. Students are encouraged to draw on their own experiences, as well as venture into subjects, places, and characters they are not as familiar with. Appropriate for beginning, intermediate, advanced liberal arts and studio arts students. Art and design students can develop their writing skills in conjunction with designing content they have written themselves. Students in Interdisciplinary classes and/or simultaneous sections of Writing and Design/ Illustration or Art of The Book classes can collaborate on developing book ideas and writing/designing a (printed and/or electronic) book from beginning to end. Classes could also choose to participate in the A LIFE IN BOOKS Writing Contest, or select a particular Bleu Mobley title of their choosing to complete as a class or interdisciplinary set of classes.

As a text, A LIFE IN BOOKS presents a panorama view of a paradoxical and multi-cultural America spanning 50 years in the life of Bleu Mobley, the people in his life and the characters in his books. It stimulates thought and discussion about the relationship between a writer/artist and the work they produce The novel balances satire with complex character portrayals, while tackling serious issues like mental illness, living with disabilities, war and peace, death and dying, interracial marriage/living in diverse communities, remaining true to one’s ideals/selling out, and the future of the book—all potential discussion points. Ethical dilemmas are raised throughout A LIFE IN BOOKS, as is the quest for freedom and the prospect of sacrificing freedom(s) for a greater cause.

The videos, additional text excerpts (not included in the printed edition), interviews, articles, and other supplemental materials—including the EXHIBITION and Warren Lehrer’s PERFORMANCE/LECTURE can also be used to study and discuss A LIFE IN BOOKS, and serve as an example of how creative writing can manifest itself beyond the confines of a book through other media.

Inquire about using the book/A LIFE IN BOOK project as a teaching tool.

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The [A Life In Books] book sits at the center of a multimedia project that includes a traveling exhibition, a performance/lecture, short films and animations, and a study guide.

Find out more about the Exhibition.

Find out more about the performance.

Visit the A Life In Books project website

Buy the book!