Yesterday, I read Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I got the book because I love her blog. For some reason, I found the experience of reading her book very different from her blog.
I don’t read books with pictures, as in graphic novels or comics or other illustrated works. I’ve been wanting to do that more so there are some on my TBR pile. Reading Brosh’s book schooled me in the art of reading an illustration novel or memoir.
Lesson #1 – Slow Down
I kept skipping over the pictures to the text below. Most of Brosh’s chapters are stories told with both text and illustrations and found my eyes sliding over the illustrations to the words. On her blog, I linger over the pictures but it was different with the book.
I had to force myself to slow down, stop, look at the illustration, then move on to the next paragraph.
I know I’m a fast reader but I don’t feel like I skim novels. It’s more like I inhale them. Once I’m engaged in a story all I want to do is read more. My attention is hyper-focused.
Reading an illustrated memoir requires, for me, a purposeful slowing down of my pace.
Lesson #2 – Don’t Just Read the Pictures
Many of Brosh’s illustrations incorporate text – inner monologues, dialogue between her and someone else, her dogs’ thoughts. My eyes went from the standard text to the text in the illustration and on to the next section of standard text.
I realized I was doing that by the second chapter and I made myself go back to the beginning to really look at the illustrations. There are many without words that I was missing because my trained eyes sought only letters.
I’m glad I did. Some drawings were relatively straightforward but others begged for a closer look. Small details that were funny or painful waited to be discovered.
Lesson #3 – Read More Books with Pictures
This will be good for me. I’m doing one of my favorite activities but in a different way. Possibly more purposefully, although I don’t think I read without purpose. It’s just different and requires me to read differently. There are so few opportunities to do a regular activity in a new way that I am now really looking forward to the graphic novels on my TBR list.
And a lesson for you, the reader – Read Hyperbole and a Half to laugh and cry and commiserate on dogs and depression and life. Allie Brosh is crazy honest and open while adding humor with a deft touch.
Find her book here.
Find her blog here.
And for fun, below is my favorite page from the book.