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5 Unique Books: Being Creative with Format

Librarians think about different appeal factors when we make book suggestions. Appeal factors are the reasons people like and dislike books: richly detailed setting, character-driven stories, pacing (Is the book a page turner or a leisurely read?) and the narrator’s point of view (Is the story told in the first person or is the narrator omniscient?). These are just a few examples of appeal factors…
Earlier this week I came across the book Building Stories by Chris Ware. This book is made up of 14 printed pieces, cloth books, flip books, newspaper and more packaged in a single box. This book tells the story of a Chicago apartment building, and the people who live there. The story has no specific beginning or end, and the 14 pieces don’t belong in any specific order. It is an exploration of the story.

Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Unboxed

The impact of this book on my understanding of appeal factors was striking. Could format, not genre but format, be an appeal factor? Most books share the same format, uniform printed pages, sometimes pictures, bound or glued together. Yet some books deviated from the norm. Rich colours, textures, shapes, inserts and pop-outs, broadsheets and collages, the possibilities are incredible. Certainly some people like reading books to explore new formats, for a tactile or abstract reading experience!

I was convinced, the format of a book could be an appeal factor to readers. The issue with identifying format as an appeal factor is that unique book suggestions are hard to find. Readers’ advisory tools such as NoveList (check it out this online resource at your public library) and GoodReads don’t usually identify format, which is usually the same across appeal factors. Still after a bit of searching, online and far back into my memory, I’ve come up with a few book suggestions.

Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence
 by Nick Bantock
A romance shared through letters… Griffin and Sabine correspond through hand painted postcards, letters that can be taken out of the book and beautiful art. The tactile experience of this book engages readers in this surreal love story.

Jen Strom’s video of the inner working of author Nick Bantock.

Extra Titanic: The Story of the Disaster in the Newspapers of the Day
by Eric Caren and Steve Goldman
A collage of newspaper articles with stories from the days surrounding the maiden voyage of the Titanic. The pages are plastered with clippings varied in size and subject, in no specific order. Readers can dip into different pages and sections and immerse themselves into the world as it was in 1912.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-Up Adaptation
illustrated by RobertSabuda
The exquisite paper art, detailed work and striking colours of this adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s will delight adults and children alike. The original text folds out from the pages as readers visit Wonderland through story and three-dimensional art.

A number of other pop-up books aimed at older children and adults have been created from classic tales such as Peter Pan, the Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast.

The Naughty Nineties: A Saucy Pop-Up Book for Adults Only
, by Peter Seymore
This is a very different kind of pop-up book. With beautiful line drawings and moving pieces, this sensuous book will delight readers with a whole new perception of the Victorian age.

Animated GIF created by Maria Popova of http://www.brainpickings.org

If you know of ay other books that experiment with format in a unique way, please send along your suggestions!


About Kayleigh Felice

I am a 20-something public librarian trying to find my footing as I start my career, take on new challenges, and enter adulthood (whatever that means). I live in Ontario, and I work for the Gatineau Municipal Library in Québec. Disclosure: The views expressed in this blog are solely my own, not those of my employer.


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