5 Books With Alternative Formats (Because Sometimes We All Need Something A Little Different)

There are many reasons why books who are told in an alternative format are awesome. I guess some people might like them because they're a breath of fresh air. Because these books are divergent and weird in their very structure and finally, as a divergently weird person myself, that's something I can relate to. But to be brutally, brutally honest?

My main reason for loving them quite so much is how quick they are to read.

I'm ridiculously lazy at times and a slow reader whatever I try to do - I mean I used to think I was quick, but apparently everyone overtook me somewhere between the ages of ten and twelve because now I can never seem to keep up. Or at least I can't keep up with my own unstoppable hunger for words.

But I can usually finish an alternatively formatted book in a day, maybe two if it's especially long, and I love that. Faster books mean I get to use my time better, that by the end of my life I will have absorbed more knowledge, more stories and more points of view than most people ever think possible ... which is kind of the point of reading, right?

I'm also just going to pretend that this desire to take in as much information as humanly possible has nothing to do with an equal desire to conquer mortality and generally just be really smart. Because it's usually not a good idea to post your plans to become a ridiculously intelligent dictator on the internet.


*cough* Um ... shall we just get going with the list? *cough*

#1 ~ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

I don't even know why I'm bothering to recommend this, to be honest. Everyone who's going to read these words right here has either already read it or decided they aren't going to. But I have to point out the obvious to get the easy marks in the exam, right? This book is in a playscript format. A format that I worried was going to be distracting and take something away from both the story and my favourite series EVER. But actually, what with Rowling's dialogue-heavy style and everything, it kind of worked. Quite well.

What I am going to say that you might not have heard before, though, is that I don't think you absolutely have to have read the original series to read Cursed Child. Sure, there'll be a few characters and references you just have to go with not understanding until they're better explained later on, and you might not have quite as good an experience as you would have, but I think it's different enough to just be a strong, interesting story in its own right. And we all like strong, interesting stories.

#2 ~ Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

So, I haven't actually got around to reading this one yet.

HOLD THE GASPS. I know. It's incredible. Everyone says so. You just know I'm missing out to such a degree that you're a little bit mad at me for not having cracked the spine. But it's on my TBR, okay? I'm getting there mind-numbingly slowly. I include it on my list because a) I'm going to have to bend at least a few rules if I'm going to make it to five whole books, and b) I've seen pictures of some of the pages. It looks like all the alternative formats (letters, blueprints, maybe the odd random collage of dialogue) squished into one lovely ball of brilliance.

Can I get a huzzah for that?

#3 ~ One by Sarah Crossan

One was the first book I had ever read written in free verse. I was intrigued by the format, but kind of wondering if it would end up being a slightly convoluted gimmick, or feel a bit weird and unnecessary.

It is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things I've ever seen, let alone read, in my life. Yeah, for the first few pages you felt a bit detached from the style, but after that it was so much more readable and natural than any other 'normal' prose - the story somehow fit with it in a way that if you'd have tried to pull it apart from the way it was written, the plot would just never have been the same. Ditto if you'd tried to tell a different story in the same way, I think, although of course you can never be sure. I think that was what surprised me the most.

Actually, no, the utterly blindsiding ending surprised me the most. But we're not going to talk about that because I-

*gulps* We're just not going to talk about it.

#4 ~ Cuckoo by Keren David

I said this in a lot more detail when I reviewed Cuckoo last week, but it's told through YouTube video transcripts and comments - and frankly that's the element of it that pushes the envelope the least. You've also got some gorgeously, painfully accurate depictions of homelessness, dementia, the fickleness of fame and the ups and downs of caring for someone with complex needs. It was real and gritty and modern, and I really think the format helped with that.

Also, can I just petition right now to have an awesome character like Destiny in every book, please? Okay thanks.

#5 ~ Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowry

First of all, when authors write books with ridiculously long titles, do they never think of the poor bloggers who have to spend whole minutes typing them out (and then checking they typed them right)? I'm sure they don't, the heartless monsters.

It's okay, authors. We'll forgive you for now. *squinty eyes*

This is another book I haven't read yet. Sorry. But I did read the first dozen or so pages in an Edinburgh bookshop only three weeks ago, and those pages were enough to tell me that it's told entirely in lists. And somehow that worked? Somehow the author managed to squeeze in description and dialogue and all that shabang while still having the lists make sense as lists? 

That sounds promising to me. I reckon you should read this and report back to me on how much you enjoyed it.

In the comments: What's your favourite alternatively-formatted book? Have you read any on the list? What did you think?
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


  1. Ohhh, lists are the best. And I haven't read Illuminae, either, but I'm dying to!

    1. They are SO the best! Go lists! Go lists! *whoop whoop*

      I'm also exceptionally glad not to be the only person in the world who hasn't read Illuminae yet. We can be outcast by the other bookworms together.


Thank you for commenting! ;-D

Follow Me! I Know the Way!