They are decks of cards that are the exact size and shape of playing cards but aren’t actually playing cards. Instead, each card displays a book or movie with info about it on the back. It’s one of those things I think they used to make before widespread internet made them seem silly (they were released in 1997 and ’98). But now they are paradoxically cool because you don’t see stuff like this anymore.
The list of books is pretty much your standard canon. The list of films is surprisingly good, full of real gems that are off the beaten path but well worth your time.
The most amusing thing about them is that each card distills the essence of the book or film into one simple, charming, almost Wes Anderson-y illustration. Karen Johnson is the artist for both decks. I’m assuming she did the pictures for every other deck in the series—there’s a bunch of them: 52 Things to Try Once in Your Life, 52 Amazing Science Experiments, 52 Way to Mend a Broken Heart, 52 Great Cheap Dates, 52 Fun Things to Do in the Car. (I would think there would be some overlap with the last two.)
Here’s a sampling:
I especially like The Long Goodbye and The Metamorphosis. They’re hanging on my fridge. J