March 25, 2017

Books with unusual formats

I'm a sucker for books with unusual formats. It's one thing to come across a great story, but it's way more awesome to find one that's told in a unique style rather than the normal prose format. Here are five books with unusual formats that I recommend, in order of how much I enjoyed them:

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - This was my favorite read last year. Even if there was nothing special about the book's formatting, I would've loved it. The fact that it's told through message chats, memos, transcripts, schematics, and more makes it one of my favorite books of all time.

2. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - The sequel to Illuminae is as good as the original. If you're going to read Illuminae, you may as well read Gemina too. :-)

3. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski - This is the book that introduced me to the possibilities of unique formats. Even the font colors play a role in this book. The story itself is also gripping and somewhat spooky, and as with Illuminae and Gemina, I'd enjoy the book regardless of the formatting.

4. Night Film by Marisha Pessl - Some readers have compared Night Film with House of Leaves. Although both books are creepy and feature some unusual formatting, the story writing in Night Film doesn't quite compare to House of Leaves, and it doesn't have as much to offer in terms of uniqueness.

5. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst - Conceptually, S. could've been the best of the lot. Formatted like an old library book titled Ship of Theseus that's been passed back and forth numerous times by two college students who wrote notes in the margins and put inserts between the pages, I loved the idea of the book. Unfortunately, I found the text of Ship of Theseus to be boring, but the margin story and everything else about the book was great.

March 11, 2017

A Spoonful of Stories update

In January 2016, I embarked on a writing project on Wattpad called "A Spoonful of Stories." The premise was to write a compilation of flash fiction, where the title of each piece represented a letter of the alphabet. I'm happy to say that, over a year later, the effort is still going strong. I just published the letter O story, "An Offering to the Ocean", making it fifteen out of twenty-six planned parts. The genres have varied, some whimsical, some serious, and some even scary.

One thing that surprised me was how hard it was to come up with some of the titles. I tried to stick with the format, "A _____ of _____" (e.g., "An Armful of Armadillos" and "A Batch of Bugs"), but some letters didn't lend themselves to a good set of words. I also found that, because titles could be hard to come by, I let my titles drive the story rather than coming up with a story idea and then finding a title to fit. The result was that these monthly stories became interesting writing exercises to see if I could invent a story when given a title. So far, I think I've been mostly successful in writing compelling stories for the collection.

There are still eleven more months of flash fiction to go before I complete this project, but if you're a fan of short stories, I invite you to check out "A Spoonful of Stories."