Illustrious – Booking Through Thursday

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How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

I think illustrations are essential in some books and not in others. Non-fiction cries out for them. They enhance biographies for example. Cookery books without photos are just not as explanatory, they demonstrate how the cooked dish should look. Imagine travel books without photos or drawings – each reader would ‘see’ different places in their mind’s eye; or gardening books without examples.  And art books – impossible without illustrations.

I’m not so good at interpreting graphs and diagrams, though. I need words as well.  I’m not so keen on the tips in boxes that are dotted about such books as the Complete Idiot’s Guide series. I find them irritating and distracting. Maps are better – I love maps and plans in fiction as well as non-fiction.

As for fiction. I like it plain. Although, just this week I’ve been tempted to read The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco. This has a generous helping of illustrations  – photos, drawings, extracts from newspapers and magazines sprinkled thoughout. And it looks as though they are essential to the plot.

(Click on the photo to see a larger and clearer picture.)

All of which brings me to graphic novels. I haven’t read any. Each time I look at the selection in a library or bookshop I can’t find any that appeal and yet other bloggers have written reams in praise of graphic novels. I loved comics as a child and liked reading the comic strips such as The Gambols and Shultz’s Peanuts with Charlie Brown. Those of you who love graphic novels – please recommend a good one to get me going, bearing in mind that I’ve looked at and discarded graphic novels of Jane Austen and other classics.

10 thoughts on “Illustrious – Booking Through Thursday”

  1. I’ve never read any graphic novels either, even though I love illustrated books. So far, I haven’t found one with a story or artwork that really appeals to me. But recently I’ve discovered all Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine books which I guess are really art books masquerading as novels (very short novels). If you haven’t read them, you might want to give them a look.

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  2. I’m with you on the fiction vs. non-fiction difference. My full response on that is here.

    As for graphic novels, there are lots of great ones out there, but it largely depends on what types of stories you like to read. My favourite is Persepolis, which the movie of a couple years ago was based on.

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  3. Oh yes yes yes!!! In denouncing pictures, I totally forgot about Eco! Even in Foucault’s, he has graphs and texts and things. that’s fine in moderation other than that…no. thanks for reminding me about Queen Loana!

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  4. Queen Loana is a good read. I think there is a wiki somewhere around the web with all the cultural and literary references annotated. I don’t mind pictures in my books. I like it even better when they have something to do with the story like Eco does or W.G. Sebald. I’ve read a handful of really good graphic novels. There’s a lot to choose from so it can be overwhelming. Because of that I generally only read graphic novels on recommendations.

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  5. My older daughter, who is visually oriented, has given me a new appreciation of illustrations and other visual material in books. I would never have read graphic novels if not for her, but it’s opened up my eyes. There is a wonderful one, maybe someone else will remember the title, or I’ll ask my d when she gets home. It’s all visual, no words, and about the immigrant experience, but uses fantasy landscape as a way of communicating the bewilderment and adjustment.

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  6. I recently read my first graphic novel, “The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam” by Ann Marie Fleming, and I enjoyed it. It involves family history and has a lot of old photos which appeal to me, and the story is very sweet. I would recommend it in the Hardbound version rather than paperback, however.

    As far as graphics and illustration (BTT), I don’t mind the book itself having decorative features. I’m getting ready to write more about that, adding to a previous post. Thanks for the opportunity to visit!

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