Top 5 Saturday: Books with a Unique Format

Welcome to Top 5 Saturday! This is a weekly challenge hosted by Devouring Books, and this week’s challenge focuses on books with a unique format.

I had a lot of fun with this one! I enjoy finding books to read that are out of my comfort zone, and one way I do that is by finding books to read with a format that is “atypical” for me. For this post, I decided to sort it by format rather than by specific book, as there were several categories for which I was able to think of multiple examples. So here we go! Here are my top five categories of unique formats for books (in no particular order)!

1. Novel-in-Verse

Image result for other words for home book
Image result for the poet x
  • Books that fit the category:
    • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
    • Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
    • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
    • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
    • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I love novels-in-verse! I actually read all five of these in 2020, so they’re definitely becoming a favorite of mine (and just more popular in general I believe). It’s a good option for a quick read, and the writing is always beautiful and impactful. It’s such an interesting way to tell a story, and it always makes the reading experience more memorable. For the children’s books included in this list, they’re also great options for lessons and discussions regarding author’s craft and figurative language (among other things).

2. Epistolary

Image result for dracula book cover
Image result for flowers for algernon
  • Books that fit the category:
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker
    • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

While there are definitely many more out there, these are the books I have read that are considered epistolary novels! An epistolary novel is a story that is written in the form of letters. In the case of Dracula, the story is told entirely through letters and diary entries (rather than the traditional narrative prose). The same goes for Flowers for Algernon, which is told in “progress reports” (essentially diary entries), as well as The Color Purple which is comprised entirely of the main character’s letters to God. It’s fascinating to have such unimpeded access to the thoughts and feelings of the main characters, and it gives us a slightly different perspective compared to typical first-person narration. It’s especially useful when there are multiple narrators, as it is a very clear marker of when the perspective switches between chapters.

Here you can find my reviews for Dracula and Flowers for Algernon!

3. Graphics

Image result for everything everything book
Image result for hey kiddo book
  • Books that fit the category:
    • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
    • Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

I decided to give this category the general description of “graphics” rather than graphic novels because I felt like I’ve read a variety of books that include graphics to some extent. The first one I thought of was Everything, Everything because the format is a mixture of prose, emails, as well as graphics and diagrams. It was fairly unique in this sense. However, there are also graphic novels in the more traditional sense. Honestly, I rarely read graphic novels, but my students love them and I’d like to read them more! The one graphic novel that I’ve actually read at this point is a YA memoir called Hey, Kiddo. It was such a powerful story, and the illustrations truly added so much to the experience and emotional impact.

You can find my review of Everything, Everything HERE.

4. Fiction/Nonfiction

Image result for woods runner
  • Books that fit the category:
    • Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

The format of Woods Runner is so interesting! For the most part, it’s a historical fiction middle-grade novel set during the Revolutionary War. However, it has alternating chapters. It starts with a fictional narrative, but then (if I remember correctly) each fictional chapter is followed by a short nonfiction chapter that gives background information about the Revolutionary War. It’s fascinating; a little jarring maybe, but it’s a clever way to include more information for young readers.

5. Cloud Atlas

Image result for cloud atlas book
  • Books that fit the category:
    • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is truly in a league of its own. I’ve never read anything else like it! First of all, the format is unique because it’s a mix of genres. There are six narratives, each with its own unique genre. It’s almost like a collection of short stories, but each narrative is connected in some way. Another way in which it’s unique is that, with the exception of the sixth narrative, each story is split in half, and the second halves are told in reverse order after reading the first six. Basically, it goes like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Yet another example of how it’s unique is that each narrative is told in a different format as well. Some are epistolary, such as the first narrative which is told in journal entries or the second which is composed of letters. The fifth narrative is structured as an interview. I could continue, but I think you get the idea! Did this creative experiment pay off? It’s debatable, but you can read my full review HERE!

Have you read any of these books? What would your top five be?

Let me know in the comments!

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