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Booking Through Thursday 3/11

March 11, 2010

Today’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

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

It depends, really. I love a good graphic novel or comic. I love the sumptuous photos that appear alongside recipes in cookbooks. At the same time, I find them intimidating. The cookbook I’ve used so many times its cover’s getting precariously attached, Jane Brody’s Good Food Book, is illustrated with a few black and white line drawings. Most of the photograph-intensive food-styled cookbooks feel more like pretty art I admire, than something I use.

For exercise guides and crocheting guides, the more photographs of each step the better. It’s frustrating, especially with exercise, to have the photographs missing steps. You’re here, then you’re here, and I can’t tell how you rearranged your knees and whether you dislocated your elbows to get there.

Most graphs and charts and maps are lost on me. I’m visual, but more in an impressionistic way than quantitative or spatial. Maps and diagrams don’t make sense. I’m not the girl you want navigating or assembling your furniture.

In novels and poetry, I don’t mind the odd line drawing, or nicely framed chapter heading. YA novels and fantasy novels tend to have more illustrations. I can remember reading dozens of YA novels with charcoal illustrations. I mostly ignore them, and go ahead picturing the characters as I would have anyway.

The only exception is when a book gets adapted into a movie, and then gets a photograph of the movie on its cover. I hate that. Bad enough that they’ve probably changed the novel for the screen, and arbitrarily chosen some box office darling to stand in for a character s/he only vaguely resembles.  Repackaging the book with a glossy movie photo and “now a major motion picture,” smacks to me of tacky marketing and makes me feel curmudgeonly. (The movie is only rarely as good as the book. More often, frustrating. Though I admit I’d never have gotten through Lord of the Rings in print. I acknowledge that it’s a character flaw.)

If I calm down, I can be happy that more people might be coming to a book because the movie has their favorite actor, and then they get the joy of reading the book. But, once you’ve seen actors playing the characters, and heard the music that goes with the sorrowful scenes or the happy reunion, it’s like a lobotomy to the imagination.

Illustrations that don’t tie to a marketing campaign outside the book itself are fine with me.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 9:17 am

    Oh hell yeah, I hate when they change the cover to the image of the movie as well. It drives me nuts. I think that for adult fiction, I rather they didn’t have pics. Non-fiction needs them. Here’s mine.

  2. March 11, 2010 9:24 am

    Yes, I hate those movie tie-in covers, too. I try never to buy those – I’ll always look around for an earlier edition, if any. Other than that, though, I generally like all the illustrations I can get.
    Here’s my answer.

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