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15 Mysterious Books Throughout History No One Can Explain

Updated June 19, 2020 434.1k views15 items

List RulesVote up the creepiest books no one can explain.

There are certain books that aren't exactly listed in great detail on Amazon. These weird and mysterious works often have unknown authors and describe forgotten histories or strange and fantastical worlds. There are some books that are so mysterious that no one has ever been able to read them, written in cryptic codes that have yet to be cracked. Some contain odd pictures depicting fights or the origin of the Earth or flora and fauna we've never seen.

While some argue that these works are hoaxes intentionally left behind to befuddle us, others insist that these books hold ancient truths. Read on to find out what's in the Vatican's secret archives, and meet a Chicago area janitor who spent years writing and illustrating an epic saga about a child slave rebellion in the secrecy of his own home.

  • No One Has Ever Decoded The Voynich Manuscript

    Video: YouTube

    The Voynich Manuscript was purchased by Polish antique books dealer Wilfrid Voynich in 1912. It is a roughly 250-page book written in some kind of code that no one could crack for decades. It is believed to date back to the 15th century and is rife with illustrations of various herbs, animals, people, astrology, and maps.

    Some believe the book may have been medicinal in nature. The book currently resides at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 

    In June 2020, after three years of study, German Egyptologist Rainer Hannig believed he figured out how to translate the code. He wrote, "The word-structure leaves only one possible explanation: the manuscript was not composed in an Indo-European language." Rather, he thinks the book is written in a Semitic language such as Arabic, Aramaic, or Hebrew.

    He notes that a full translation "will need a couple of years," because "the peculiarity and the vocabulary of the period will cause a lot of trouble even to a native speaker of [Hebrew]." Though Hannig claims he was able to translate a couple of sentences. 

  • 'The Book Of Soyga' Is A Manuscript About Magic Of Unknown Origin

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Book of Soyga, also known as Aldaraia, is a book about magic. It is written in Latin and talks of demons, astrology, spells, and angels. Scholar John Dee, who was an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, had a copy of the book in the 16th century, but it was lost after his passing. However, two copies of the book were found later: one in the British Library and the other in the Bodleian Library.

    Dee was unable to figure out several tables contained in the book, and once attempted to talk to angels for help figuring the book out via Edward Kelley, a medium who purported to channel them. 

  • 'Popol Vuh' Is A Mayan Text Describing The Origin Of The World

    Video: YouTube

    Popol Vuh is a written text dating back to the mid-1500s, and its name translates to "Book of the People." It is written in the Mayan language K'iche' and discusses the creation of humans and animals. Two prominent characters are the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who ultimately become the sun and the moon. The book was found by a priest in Guatemala in the 1700s.  

    According to its creation myth, there was only sky and sea until the creators formed the Earth. Their first creatures were animals, then mud men, then wooden men, which did not work out so well. However, they eventually made four men out of corn. Later, while the men slept, the gods created women. The entire creation story can be heard in the video above.

  • A Hospital Janitor Wrote A Bizarre Fantasy Epic

    Video: YouTube

    The Story of the Vivian Girls is a strange, illustrated fantasy epic written by Henry Darger that is considered a prime example of outsider art. When Darger wasn't writing, he worked as a janitor at a hospital in Chicago, IL. His novel, which was discovered only after he passed in 1973, was fully titled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion

    The story is about seven princesses, last name Vivian, who are key figures in a rebellion of children against those enslaving them, the Glandelinians. They live on a fantasy planet where giant creatures also reside. Darger was largely inspired by a newspaper photo of 5-year-old Elsie Paroubek, who was slain in 1911. Her slayer was never caught. In the story, her corresponding character is a girl named Annie, a leader in the rebellion who is slain by the Glandelinians.