Thursday, March 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursdays: Illustrious

Today's Booking Through Thursdays question is: How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

This is an interesting question, since I'm both a reader of mostly books that don't have illustrations and a Kindle owner, where images are limited to shades of gray.

The biggest collection of books I own that have pictures are knitting and crochet books. Pictures and charts and illustrations are essential in demonstrating techniques and showing what a knitted or crocheted object is supposed to look like when you follow the book's instructions. Nowadays, a lot of patterns are available online in pdf format or on blogs like this one, but I still enjoy actually owning pattern books so that I can sit down on the couch and page through them, looking for inspiration for that next project.

Now that I have a Kindle, its easy to take pdfs of patterns I've found and transfer them to the Kindle, but I doubt I'll ever use it for more than a reference. Its great for looking at the pattern instructions but not for looking at the pictures. I also probably won't ever spend much money on pattern books for Kindle, because I love those color photos that you get from a real book.

As for my regular fiction reading, most of those books don't have any pictures beyond the cover, and for good reason. Most readers make up what the characters look like in their heads. I'm a little strange in that I usually can visualize a character's body, clothes and hair, but I rarely visualize a defined face. This works for me and its never really bothered me that I don't have a specific picture in my head of what the characters look like. For some of my books, like Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, there are manga illustrations that have been put out and I enjoy those, but I don't let the illustration necessarily define how I picture that character in my head.

Its been an interesting experience getting involved in fan message boards for some of the series that I read, where fans and authors both sometimes post pictures of models or actors that they feel are matches for the characters. Its amazing how there is a set description for that character, a list of everything we know about them physically, and yet you get such a diverse set of opinions on what that person looks like. I've seen people say that they picture a blond when the character is canonically brunette, even people who picture someone of a totally different race than the character is known to be. This is the beauty of books without illustrations. It gives the reader freedom to visualize it in their own way.

I'm not entirely sure I've answered the BTT question, since I've mainly talked about not having pictures in my books, but still, its an important thing to talk about why illustrations aren't always needed and or wanted.

Happy Thursday!

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