Sunday 14 February 2016

Reluctant Romantic - It's Complicated

Katie @Doing Dewey is hosting a challenge throughout February to encourage us to read a genre we tend to avoid.

This month I am reading graphic novels and discussing what keeps me from reading more books in this genre.

Today's discussion topic is "It's Complicated".

The idea is to discuss what has kept us from reading more of our chosen genre.

However my complications have taken a completely different turn this week. As it turns out, my genre has become complicated in a way that I didn't, or couldn't, predict.

As it turns out, my genre is NOT graphic novels as I originally thought, but some kind of weird hybrid that better fits the #librariansdilemma tag instead!

Is it graphic? Is it art? Is it non-fiction of fiction?

My genre is a booksellers nightmare - of the where on earth do I shelve this book? kind.

It's a story book and it's heavily illustrated or decorated, so much so that the artwork tells at least half of the story. But it's not a children's picture book. Adult themes and concepts are explored. There are no speech bubbles but conversations can take place.

Are you confused yet?

Perhaps if I show you what I mean....

Last week I read Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. I thought it was a graphic novel, which is why I picked it out of my TBR pile.

But it wasn't; it was this -

- exquisite artwork on every page that told the story of Marie and Pierre Curie along with the text.

Which then reminded me that I had another part-read book somewhat like it by my bed -

- Shaun Tan's incredibly beautiful, haunting, grotesque clay works in The Singing Bones which depict various scenes from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

There's not a speech bubble in sight, and the art is the main focus of the story. Tan's creative interpretations challenge the reader/viewer to delve deeper into each of the tales hidden layers.

What is this genre?

Things at Brona's Books are not only complicated, but confused!


  1. This is a very thought provoking post.

    It reminds me that sometimes we think that something is simple. But when we dig into it all sorts of complexities arise.

    I never knew that such books existed. Regardless of how we classify them some of them look well worth the look.

    1. Most of Shaun Tan's books are hard to classify. His so-called children's picture books have so many layers and mature themes and his art work is so complex that it appeals more to adults and much older children.

      I'm keen to see what else is out there.

  2. I think I would still classify these as graphic books since the graphics seem to be predominant but then again.....haha Nice books.

  3. I have the same problem! Even though most of the books I'm reading are more in "comic book" style, I wouldn't call them graphic novels because they are not novels. Some are memoirs, some are nonfiction and even the fiction ones are not truly novels -- more like illustrated short stories. The two that you show are most similar in format to children's picture books, which in itself is not a terribly helpful label. "Books in which pictures are as important as the text" is rather unwieldy.

  4. These do seem like hard books to categorize! They also seem like great books though, of a type I don't currently read, but would also like to give a chance :)

  5. Adult picture books? Is that a category? Stories are above our need to classify them. I hope you're having fun with your complicated genre!


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