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Something Different

by Carla Sarratt on 2017-02-06T08:38:38-05:00 in Literature & the Arts

By Lauren Love, Library Circulation Assistant at Northeast Library


Every once and a while it's important to read outside the box, change things up and see if you've been missing out on anything. If you're looking for a way out of that reading rut I recommend the structurally strange books below.

What does that mean?
 ¡ʇuᴉɥ ɐ s,ǝɹǝH

Your head will be spinning as you are immersed in stories like you never have been before. Unique in their structure and format, these books are untraditional and experimental. Some make use of photographs and scanned documents, others include actual envelopes with letters inside, and more than one will require you to flip the book upside down or sideways to read the text.

Title: Bats of the Republic
Author: Zachary Thomas Dodson
Description: Science fiction ✓ Politics ✓ Suspense ✓ Dystopian future ✓ Historical fiction ✓  You'll get all that and much more from Bats of the Republic. Dodson teaches with the Aalto University in Helsinki where he leads the Visual Narrative MA program. This project is described on his website as an illuminated novel “in which alternating sci-fi and historical fiction narratives duel over a mysteriously sealed letter, drawing three centuries of Texana, two great love stories, and one giant cavern of bats into spiraling conflict.” You will be transported into the world Dodson has so richly created through the use of “natural history illustrations, subversive pamphlets, fictional star charts, and a 19th century novel-within-a-novel.”  

Title: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt
Author: Caroline Preston
Description:  (From "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a visually stunning, totally unique, full-color novel in the form of a scrapbook, set in the burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s and featuring an endearing, unforgettable heroine. Caroline Preston, author of the New York Times Notable Book Jackie by Josie, uses a kaleidoscopic array of vintage memorabilia—postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus and more—to tell the tale of spirited and ambitious Frankie’s remarkable odyssey from Vassar to Greenwich Village to Paris, in a manner that will delight crafters, historical fiction fans, and anyone who loves a good coming-of-age story ingeniously told."

Title: Illuminae
Author(s): Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Description:  Okay, your small, slightly illegal, mining village gets blown up on the same day you decided to break up with your boyfriend but of course it can always get worse. Presented as a dossier, this story recounts Kady's attempt to survive and save the people she loves as they escape their home planet’s invasion by an evil galaxy traversing Corporation. As survivors lead the corporation on a chase through the void of space a viral plague breaks out on one of the fleeing ships exacerbating an already dire situation. To make matters worse the ex-boyfriend may be the only one who can help Kady as the ships Artificial Intelligence begins to go on the fritz. Reading through the collection of interviews, video descriptions, hacked emails, instant messages, interviews and other documents in the dossier will have you on the edge of your seat with mind blowing and heart wrenching twists.

Title: Griffin & Sabine
Author: Nick Bantock
Description: A beautiful, intimate glimpse into an unusual relationship, the story of Griffin & Sabine is revealed in a series of other worldly, illustrated postcards and letters between the two main characters. The characters seem as tangible as the letters you take from the envelopes and hold in your hands to read. The personalized handwriting and uneven inking make the reading experience incredibly immersive and the mystery all the more real. Why can Sabine see what Griffin is drawing? As a professional artist his work is his life and knowing that another person has witnessed his struggles and successes gives him comfort but raises many questions.  Will they ever find out what formed their strange connection?

Title: Ella Minnow Pea
Author: Mark Dunn
Description: (From "Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island's Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl's fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere."

Title: S.
Author/Producter: Doug Durst and J.J. Abrams (that's right, the man who brought us Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek, and Cloverfield)
Description: Inside the black dust cover you will find the fictional novel Ship of Theseus written by V.M. Straka, the reclusive (and also fictional) author, in 1949. While Ship of Theseus can be read traditionally cover to cover, the real story takes place in the margins. Don't be alarmed when you open this book and see bits of paper and postcards placed between the pages and handwritten, multicolored notes around the printed text. The true identity of V.M. Straka is heavily debated and those who read his books become obsessed with the mystery. Two such students meet in the margins of Ship of Theseus and are thrust into a complicated, high-stakes search for the truth.

Title: House of Leaves
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Description:  (From "A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart."

These are just a few of the many surprising and exciting books you can check out from your local library in your quest for reading inspiration. is a great source of recommendations and also a way to keep up with what you and your friends are reading. If you're looking for something new and need some direction check out the library's Read & Write libguide where you can access all kinds of tools to help you find the perfect reading match. Check out the Winter Reading Program where you can enter to win prizes by keeping track of your book hunting efforts!





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