Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope your week is going great. Otherwise, I hope that it will start looking up in the coming days. It is my fervent hope that it will usher in positive energy, blessings, healing, and forgiveness for everyone. Wah. Today is the last Tuesday of July. I hope and pray that the rest of the year will be a great one. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.

his week’s topic: Top 5 Illustrated Books

NOTE: Illustrations can include fancy chapter dividers, beautiful drop caps, multimedia written books, or pretty end pages. Don’t feel you need to limit yourself to picture books on this one.

This would have been a challenging one for me had there not been a note. You see, I have read only two graphic novels so far. I loved both and they will be a part of this list. But even if we extend the topic to books with illustrations, I still had a challenging time as I cannot recall which ones had illustrations HAHA. Nevertheless, here are books with illustrations that left a deep impression on me. Happy reading!

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis has piqued my curiosity so well because I keep encountering it on numerous must-read challenge lists. Imagine my delight when I was able to obtain a copy of the book. I immediately added it to my 2018 Top 20 Reading List. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. It is actually the first graphic novel I read; this is the first of two on this list. The graphic novel drew inspiration from Satrapi’s own coming of age during one of the most tumultuous phases of Iranian history. We read of the misogyny and the discrimination that women face even in contemporary Iran. Beyond history and politics, the book has a plenitude of angst, wit, and humor. Despite the heavy subjects it explored, the book read lighter because of the illustrations that made it easier to appreciate the messages the book and the author were conveying.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus by Art Spiegelman is the second graphic novel on this list. Like Persepolis, it was a book that has long piqued my interest. I was curious about what the book had in store. Thankfully, I was able to read the graphic novel in 2020. The novel also had elements of history as it charted the story of Art’s (or Artie’s) parents Vladek Spiegelman and Anja Zylberberg, starting with their courtship. The crux of the story, however, captured the experiences of the couple during the Second World War. The story takes us into the walls of Auschwitz, a word many of us dread even though we haven’t been part of that era and we only read of the horrors of these concentration camps through stories such as Maus and documentaries. When I started reading Maus, my initial reaction was: “Oh no. Not another novel about the War.” The novel reminded me that each voice deserves to be heard, especially in a period when history is being dismissed or forgotten.

The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe

Unlike the first two books on this list, Kōbō Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes is not a graphic novel. However, the novel, my first by the Japanese writer, was accentuated with illustrations. These illustrations provided a breather from the bleak story the novel had within its pages. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about reading the book at first because I thought it was a work of science fiction. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this apprehension because the book gave me a different dimension of Japanese literature, somewhat between the magical surrealism that the works of Haruki Murakami offered and the realist novels Japanese writers are renowned for. The story of Niki Jumpei, a misanthropic teacher trapped in the dunes with the titular woman, had elements of existentialism and was brimming with allegories.

The Dumas Club by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

My first novel by Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte, The Seville Communion, barely impressed me. The book had bright spots but they were intermittent and, overall, I felt the novel was lackadaisical. However, this experience did not preclude me from reading one of his most popular works: The Dumas Club It was, after all, listed as one of 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The book hit the ground running from the onset. Before long, I found myself riveted by Corso’s adventure. The wealth of information the book contained was astounding. To engage the readers, a set of images was inserted into the story. It is actually central to one of the mysteries in the novel. These images makes the reading experience more immersive.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The movie adaptation of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls (at least the trailer), was the first that captured my interest. It instantly caught my interest, hence, I endeavored to purchase a copy of the book. My curiosity multiplied further when I read the background of the book; what I read tore my heart into pieces. It is the story of a young boy named Conor on the brink of losing his mother. Every midnight, the titular monster appears and inculcates into him lessons about life. Its morose subject is really gut-wrenching. Although it involved a massive amount of fantasy and imagery, its touch of reality can never be denied. The narrative flowed and so did the emotions. I was astounded by this laconic work but broken at the same time because of its back story. To every Conor in the world, I know this is no comfort to you, for now, but eventually, things will work themselves out. Yes, life can be mean, it can be unfair and monsters are lurking in every corner but muster the courage and learn to be brave.

A True Novel by Minae Mizumura

Because my brain is churning books right now, let me add another book I liked. Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel was a book I purchased during the first Big Bad Wolf Sale back in 2018 but it was only in 2020 that I managed to read the book. It is the story of Taro Azuma an illegitimate child raised by his uncle’s family. He was constantly abused even at a young age. The crux of the story, however, was his developing fondness for Yoko, the daughter of the family his grandfather worked for. With Taro directly working for Yoko’s step-grandmother Mrs. Utagawa, Yoko and Taro started developing a fondness for each other. To further render the “true novel” some credibility, the novel was accentuated with pictures, some were scenic while some were generic scenes but all served to transport the readers to the Japanese countryside. Because of its story, A True Novel is often referred to as the Japanese Wuthering Heights.