Books Enhanced by Their Structures

The way in which authors decide to structure their books may have a huge impact on the final result. I’m unsure if structure is the correct term. But I mean the choices that writers make in terms of the order and the manner in which the narrative is presented to the readers, or the form used to tell a specific story.

There are three books, which I read in the latest years, whose structures were one of the highlights of my reading experience. I’m certain I wouldn’t have liked them as much as I did if the story had been told in a different way.


Jerusalém by Gonçalo M. Tavares

In this novel, the Portuguese writer Gonçalo M. Tavares delves into insanity and horror. The story is told from the perspectives of various characters – Ernst, Mylia, Theodor, Hanna and Hinnerk – and doesn’t follow a strict chronological order. The actions of the characters are not revealed in sequence but when they are useful for the narration. Each chapter reveals more information about either the past or the present, which helps the reader understand how the characters are connected with one another. This enhanced the story, because it kept me curious and guessing.


The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

This book exposes how a patriarchal society can put women in conflict with each other, as Penelope tells her version of the events from The Odyssey. Although this short book is told mainly from Penelope’s point of view, it also presents the reader with the perspectives of the Twelve Maids. Through poems, prose with poetic rhythm and scripts for plays, they reveal some of Penelope’s faults, which enhances the story.


High Tide by Inga Abele

This is a novel about Ieva’s life and the role of Andrejs and Aksels in it. The fact that it’s written in more or less reverse chronological order makes it considerably more interesting. Ieva’s present feelings and opinions are only fully understandable near the end. Discovering more about her personality and her past is the main appeal of this Latvian novel, which showcases how previous decisions can influence the way in which we approach life.


Have your read any of these books? Are there any other books which you think are enhanced by their structures? Tell me in the comments!


8 thoughts on “Books Enhanced by Their Structures

  1. Ayunda says:

    Great list. One that sticks out to me is The Western Wind, in which each chapter happens one day before the previous chapter, so it is a plot that moves backwards instead of forward, making us guess what happened throughout the book.
    I also really the unique structure of There But for The – it has two entirely different parts with different writing styles and time setting, and you do not know when you buy which edition, which part will go first. Therefore the readers are divided into two and experience the book in uniquely different ways depending on the order they read the parts in.

    Liked by 1 person

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