My wife recently ordered Henry Bursill’s classic Hand Shadows and More Hand Shadows. It was first published in 1859 and 1860 (in two parts), but what’s best about it is that, aside from the name of each pattern, the book is simply a book of pictures. No text. No preface by a famous hand shadow practitioner. No page of text describing the history and variations of each pattern. Just pictures.

Each page is a single picture, drawn in mid-19th century style, demonstrating how to position your hands, and showing the resulting shadow. No text is needed; the book explains itself.

Obviously, this extremely minimalist style wouldn’t work for every book, but how many books could be improved by including less than they have? How much do you really have to say about a hand shadow, when a picture says it all?