When one speaks of illustrated books one often thinks about children books, picture books or graphic novels, comics and manga. But books with illustrations are not just for children or have to be a comic. Adults can appreciate this form as well. I certainly can.
One thing that draws me to illustrated books are the illustrations themselves. I am secretly envious of the talent of illustrators and other artists for their ability to create something so gorgeous. I love looking at an illustration in a book, whether this is a map or a scene and to find the details there. Illustrations also don’t have to be an entire page. They can be a small square or even just the first letter of a word of a new scene or paragraph. It is a fine balance in illustrated books, and especially those for adults, to be able to weave the story and illustrations together. You can not just put an illustration in the middle of a book and be done with it. The text and illustrations have to become one to tell a story. I quite enjoyed seeing this in the combination of Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell’s works. Some of their combined efforts are visually stunning but also flow from text to illustrations really well.
Or a different take on the illustrated books is where letters and text become apart of the illustrations. Illuminae is a good example of this. It creates a very different experience to a story.
Illustrations have to be able to support the text. Be a suplement but not take over. Illustrated books are a great break between bigger novels as they tend to be quicker reads and convey the story in a different way to you without taking away text entirely.
And illustrations can be a great way to emphasize certain emotions. I felt that in A Monster Calls this was done rather well. The emotions the mc experienced that took form in something touchable. A shape. The style of illustration fitted this very well. A play with sharp or soft lines and color can give of a very different feeling to an illustration.
It is also very memorable. You will not easily forget a story that is told through text and illustrations. One can say that it does take away the possibility of people being able to visualize the story, but I think it still leaves plenty of space to visualize other aspects.
I also don’t think as an adult one should stick to just reading illustrated adult books. Even illustrated children’s books can give a new sensation to the story. Just see the illustrated editions of Harry Potter that are being released. It can give a different dimension to a favorite story.
Illustrated Books I Recommend
- The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- The Last Hero (Discworld novel) by Terry Pratchett. Illustrator Paul Kidby
- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Illustrator Jim Kay
- Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman.
- The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin. Illustrator Luis Royo
- Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome edited by Stephen Jones. Illustrator Alan Lee
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Illustrator Jim Kay
Illustrated Books I Still Want to Read
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. Illustrator Jim Kay
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Illustrator Chris Riddell
- Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Illustrator Marie Lu
- A Game of Thrones, illustrated edition by George R.R. Martin.
- A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin. Illustrator Gary Gianni
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories by Lewis Carroll. Illustrator John Tenniel
- The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Illustrator Chris Riddell
Which illustrated books would you recommend?