How do you feel about books written in a differing format – whether this be journals or letters (epistolary), verse novels, or any other form? Is this something you enjoy? Or do you prefer straight forward chapter prose.
While most of the novels I read follow the traditional format, I am not at all opposed to reading outside the norm, so to speak. I have never tried a verse novel, and I must confess that I would have to really beef-up my poetry appreciation skills to tempt that particular form, but there are several other styles that I do enjoy on an occasional basis.
- Serial novels: I have just started teaching A Tale of Two Cities for the 5th year in a row and one of the first elements that I point out to the students is the placement of installments. I explain the serial format and then show them an actual copy of the Household Words publication (somehow my husband found one for sale on ebay and it is one of my most prized possessions). It is a goal of mine to read at least one Dickens' novels in this manner --- that is, only read one installment per week (or month) and force myself to wait for the next one. Fortunately there is a terrific website to allow me to do just that: Mousehold Words. They have several authors available to choose from, including Dickens and Wilkie Collins, and you can even choose the frequency of the delivery to your email account.
- Alternative Points of View: If this is done well, it is my most favorite writing style. I have tried to teach my children that there is always two sides to every story. I am fascinated by perspective and how the same facts can be viewed so differently. This style of writing not only allows me to "get inside" the heads of various characters - it also forces me to piece together the facts for myself and draw my own conclusion, based upon the somewhat unreliable narration of the characters involved.
- Epistolary stories: I don't think I would enjoy a steady diet of this style of writing, but it is quite enjoyable every once in a while. The epistolary novel is told in letter format, and often the reader is made to feel like one of the characters in the story as it is often told in the 2nd person Point of View (you) --- drawing the reader in. My most favorite story written in this form is Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Do you have a favorite epistolary story that I should add to my list?
- Diaries: To me, diaries offer the most intimate reading experience. Characters are willing to share their deepest desires and secrets in a diary that they would not have the opportunity to share in any other format. Sometimes, however, these secrets are almost too personal for me to fully comprehend, and as a result I can sometimes feel rather uncomfortable as the reader; like I am infringing on the character's privacy.
I am sure there are other story formats that I have not even considered in this post. Which styles do you prefer? Please let me know so that I can expand my literary horizons and appreciation.