How Does Unique Formatting in Books Affect Your Reading Experience?

How does the formatting of a book affect your reading experience? I usually enjoy unique formatting in my books, but I recently read the first half of Illuminae before putting it down. I quit reading Illuminae because of the formatting. While the whole book being composed of lab reports, wikipedia articles, and IM messages was a cool concept, it made the story hard to follow. Many people enjoyed Illuminae because of the unique formatting, and others enjoyed it because they thought it had a good story. The formatting, for me made the story drag and I had no idea what was going on until about page 150. The only part I enjoyed was the interviews with some of our characters because it was only then that you really got to see the characters.

I enjoy both books that have unique formatting and books that have traditional formatting. However, I think that if a book does have unique formatting, the formatting should add to the story, not take away from the story. When I was reading Illuminae, I felt that the unique formatting actually took away from the amazing story that could have gone on otherwise.

In my own experience, I enjoy books that have a mix of formatting. I really enjoyed Everything, Everything, and it had a mix of both traditionally formatting chapter and IMs, medical reports, and other fun additions. 

Books That Have GOOD Unique Formatting

  • Everything, Everything By Nicola Yoon was an amazing mix of traditionally formatted chapters and other amazing things. I loved it so much, and I felt like a smile had been imprinted on my heart after reading it. I read Everything, Everything in one day because I could just not put it down.

  • Every Last Word By Tamara Ireland Stone felt fluffy while still talking about some not-so-fluffy subjects. The only thing that was "unique" format-wise was the poetry that was interspersed into the plot, and IT WAS EPIC!!!

  • The Book Thief By Markus Zusak was a really powerful story. The only "unique" formatting part of The Book Thief that I remember was the story she wrote, but it has been more than a year since I read this. SO, you should go read this and them tell me if there's more.

  • Tomboy By Liz Prince was told entirely in graphic novel format, but I consider that to be a unique formatting style. Tomboy taught the important lesson that you can't change who you are, the person you were born as and that accepting your true self is the best choice, despite what society says. 

Books That Have Unenjoyable Unique Formatting

  • In Real Life By Jessica Love was something centered around online friends, so I expected it to have more social media posts or IMs in the plot, but that did not happen. I was sorely disappointed that we only had a few text message conversations in the plot, especially because this book could have been SO COOL if it had more epic things in it

  • Still Life Las Vegas By James Sie was just generally confusing for me. It had about three sections of graphic novel format in it, and the rest was traditional chapter format. I thought that maybe the graphic content would add to the plot and help me understand the novel better, but I was just left even more confused after the graphic novel portions

  • How To Be Brave BY E. Katherine Kottaras had poetry in addition to the chapters. The poetry was meant to explain how she was feeling better, but it did not do that AT ALL. I could completely see her feelings just with her POV, and the poetry was just unnecessary.

What do you think? What kind of formatting makes your reading experience the most enjoyable? Tell me in the comments below.


  1. Aww...I'm sorry to hear you aren't liking Illuminae. :( I personally loved it, but I can definitely see how it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

    I think that, if it's used well, then unique formatting can be a really powerful tool. I really liked how Everything, Everything was formatted (the formatting made it feel really realistic) and the narration of The Book Thief was haunting. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion! ♥

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    1. I'm so sorry I haven't replied sooner! I kind of feel like everyone and their mother LOVED Illuminae, but I just didn't. *shrinks back away from the angry Illuminae loving mob*

      However, I love unique formatting when it is done to my tastes, and I think that it usually adds to a book.

  2. I loooooved Illuminae and thought the unique formatting MADE that story, tbh. 😂 But honestly, each to their own, of course! I'm a sucker for unique formatting...but I do agree that it doesn't always work. Like poetry? Eh. I really don't like poetry. And I recently read this book called The Stars at Oktober Bend and OMG IT WAS SO CONFUSING AND AWFUL. I just couldn't follow it at all with the poetry-like words and no capitals and run-on-sentences and just words falling all over the place. Bleh. No. SO DEFINITELY DEPENDS. And omg The Book Thief was marvellous. <333
    I also read a book ENTIRELY in lists once! It wasn't my favourite, but I did like the format. XD

    1. POETRY. Hmm... Sometimes I enjoy poetry and other times it just flies straight over my head. All things in books need to be done right, otherwise they juts ruin the potential that the actual story holds.


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