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Books with Illustrations

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

I’m neutral on this subject matter—I can do with or without, as long as the book is up to my liking. Graphical novels belong to a separate league that I do not consider illustrated novels. They are, in my stubborn opinion, more like comic books. I do enjoy the illustrations that are interlarded in the Penguin Classics edition of Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Jane Austen’s novels. Persephone Classics also adopt a similar format. In light of this discussion, my latest acquisition, upon DM’s recommendation, is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Every chapter is graced with beautiful illustration. I’m looking forward to reading this moral allegory.

14 Responses

  1. I’m currently reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, and it has illustrations, or “Visual Aids,” as the narrator cheekily calls them. Illustrations like these are part of the narrative, and not just for, well, accompaniment’s sake. These integrated illustrations I tend to like more. The latter kind, pretty neutral, like you.

  2. I don’t mind them as long as they add to the story. I wouldn’t want to see them in everything but once in a while is fine.

  3. I agree that illustrations have to be appropriate for the novel itself. (And thank you! Graphic novels ARE just a fancier term for comics.)

  4. I totally disagree about graphic novels. There is definitely a distinction. Have you read Persepolis?

  5. I absolutely love illustrations in books and wish they were more often commissioned. The first such that I picked up, I bought solely for the woodcut illustrations: Diane Schoemperlen’s Forms of Devotion. I know those of us who buy books because they have pretty covers are often chided, so I’m certain I’ve slipped a few more notches in those judges’ estimation for buying on this basis, but Schoemperlen turned out to be one of my favourite-est writers anyhow, with or without pictures (though this story collection does remain my favourite of her works by far).

    • The woodcut illustrations sound very exquisite. As to the books with beautiful covers, I can be hit or miss. It depends on how much I like the content. 🙂 Coffee table books are exceptions.

  6. Oh, I love woodcuts! I adore illustrations of all stripes in books, and I wish more editions of classics came with color plates these days.

  7. I like illustrations..maps..they are all good.
    I love beautiful books, lovely covers, fine bindings, quality paper. For me, they all add to the pleasure of enjoying a book.
    They are not necessary,but they are nice.

  8. Maps and family trees add so much to big, sprawling novels. I really appreciate them!

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