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What We See When We Read

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A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page - a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so - and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved - or reviled - literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature - he thinks of himself first, and foremost, as a reader - into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.


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A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page - a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so - and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved - or reviled - literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature - he thinks of himself first, and foremost, as a reader - into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.

30 review for What We See When We Read

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    My mother has a most unusual reading habit. She is an avid reader and is able to finish a 500 page book in a day. This is not the strange thing here. What is beyond surprising is the fact that she doesn't form ''pictures'' in her head as she reads. She reads the words but doesn't feel the need to ''play out'' the action using her imagination. Also, she claims that writing essays was her weakest part at school. Her function of imagining things has always been below average. No wonder she is the m My mother has a most unusual reading habit. She is an avid reader and is able to finish a 500 page book in a day. This is not the strange thing here. What is beyond surprising is the fact that she doesn't form ''pictures'' in her head as she reads. She reads the words but doesn't feel the need to ''play out'' the action using her imagination. Also, she claims that writing essays was her weakest part at school. Her function of imagining things has always been below average. No wonder she is the most pragmatic person I know. Me, on the other hand? I am the complete opposite. If I cannot form the scenes in my mind, if I find it difficult to be the ''director'' of the book I read, then I know I can form no connection to the action or the characters. Even when I read non-fiction, I feel compelled to ''see'' the events described in my head. This is the premise of Peter Mendelsund extraordinary book. He attempts to explain what our mind ''sees'' as we read. How do we form the faces of the characters? Which are the words that take centre-stage in our mind and drive the action forward? Why one reader says ''oh, that's not the Anna Karenina I had in mind'', while another claims that ''she's just how I imagined her to be?'' All these and more are included in What We See When We Read. I really enjoyed reading this book, it made me contemplate on a lot of our functions as readers, and whether our mind sometimes works independently. Don't let the number of pages dissuade you. This is a book that every reader has to read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    The Heavenly Conspiracy Here’s the truth that few want to recognise: Most of what we read (or for that matter hear) is made up, not by the writer but by ourselves. Forget about what words on the page refer to. Mendelsund is not interested in the classical problem of epistemology. We add immense amounts of descriptive and contextual material to what’s on the page without being aware of our doing so. According to Peter Mendelsund, “... the idea of a mirror is an analogy for the act of reading.” Wha The Heavenly Conspiracy Here’s the truth that few want to recognise: Most of what we read (or for that matter hear) is made up, not by the writer but by ourselves. Forget about what words on the page refer to. Mendelsund is not interested in the classical problem of epistemology. We add immense amounts of descriptive and contextual material to what’s on the page without being aware of our doing so. According to Peter Mendelsund, “... the idea of a mirror is an analogy for the act of reading.” What emerges from a book is largely our own imaginations reflected back. The more the author withholds, and this is usually a great deal, the more imagination we supply, right from the first words. As he says, “All books open in doubt and dislocation.” We are thrown in to the sea of reading every time we open a new book; and we have to learn how to swim all over again in that particular place with its unique character, dangers, and surprises. While psychologists have known that people are not the best witnesses to any of their experiences (including, presumably, their experience of reading), they really haven’t described the phenomenology of this fictionalisation of fiction. Philosophers since Kant have realised that what we see is a function of our human sensory apparatus. But they haven’t had much to say about how human language ability isn’t like other human ‘senses.’ Mendelsund has an interesting suggestion. Reading, and by implication all language-using, he suspects, is really an act of transcendence, not only transcendence of the text but also transcendence of the other immediate aspects of life including much sensory input. “You are neither in this world, the world wherein you hold a book (say, this book), nor in that world (the metaphysical space the words point toward),” he speculates. I think Mendelsund is on to something. I agree with his assessment that “A book feels like the intersection of these two domains—or like a conduit; a bridge; a passage between them... An open book acts as a blind—its boards and pages shut out the world’s clamorous stimuli and encourage the imagination.” While reading we take on an entirely distinct existential condition for which we don’t have an articulate description, not even a name. By its very nature, reading is an escape - but not onto the text. The act of reading is a kind of transformation, not just a fleeting intimation, but another mode of being. Mendelsund makes the further interesting observation that this transformation is the same phenomenon that we experience while listening to music. This suggests that we may hear much more of what we read than we are conscious of. The parallels between composition in both modes provokes some intriguing aesthetic insights: “In music, notes and chords define ideas, but so do rests.” This I find particularly exciting. Perhaps there really are books written in different keys, just as there are symphonies telling their own genres of stories. And perhaps the conspiracy between reader and writer that produces this other world of literature and music is the source of our idea of... well, of heaven.

  3. 5 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘We perform a book, and we attend the performance.’ Words have a unique power to impose pictures into the inward eye of the mind¹ In a recent thread, a friend commented on how Homer, despite his supposed blindness, had the ability to create metaphors which were more visual and imaginatively stunning that modern CGI has been able to manage. Words have a power that even visual stimulation cannot capture. It is interesting to consider the cliche that ‘the book is better than the movie’ which—in most ‘We perform a book, and we attend the performance.’ Words have a unique power to impose pictures into the inward eye of the mind¹ In a recent thread, a friend commented on how Homer, despite his supposed blindness, had the ability to create metaphors which were more visual and imaginatively stunning that modern CGI has been able to manage. Words have a power that even visual stimulation cannot capture. It is interesting to consider the cliche that ‘the book is better than the movie’ which—in most cases, though still debatable on many—tends to be true. Consider all the different forms of art that converge onto the silver screen. There is the script and writing, the acting, the directing, editing, sound and musical score, all that work together towards capturing an intended emotional response and resonance. Yet, despite all the efforts of many artists to capture a novel in a more immediate and mulit-sensory way, the words on the page hold more of a grip on our hearts and minds. ‘Books allow us certain freedoms,’ Peter Mendelsund—of whom most of you are familiar with through his art direction of book covers even though you may not yet realize—posits in his book What We See When We Read, ‘we are free to be mentally active when we read; we are full participants in the making (the imagining) of a narrative . In a film, we are shown what to think, not given the agency of reading. Examining the visual aspects of novels and the way that the imagination fills in the gaps, Mendelsund delivers insightful musings alongside the opinions of many brilliant minds and couples this with an artistic flair that makes for an enlightening and stimulating read. Mendelsund’s book is a visual feast for the eyes and the mind. While it may seem thick, this is actually a quick read as most pages only feature a paragraph of singular idea with a visual representation of the idea on the opposite page. While asking us to explore how we visualize a book, he simultaneously gives us a visual joy to accompany our thoughts or to further elaborate a point. While the major works used as examples for examination are To the Lighthouse, Anna Karenina, Ulysses and Madame Bovary, books from Tolkien to Infinite Jest are discussed and many examples and quotes from bright minds like Roland Barthes, William H. Gass, Franz Kafka, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Italo Calvino among others are utilized for the discussion. While there is nothing particularly new here that will shatter your mind or blow you away, and even many points that you are may disagree with, reading this book feels somehow Socratic in its method of making you realize things that have always gone on in your head, things you knew, but never realized you knew. It is quite enriching while also being extremely entertaining. ‘Characters are ciphers. And narratives are made richer by omission.’ Mendelsund points out that many famous literary characters, such as Bovary, Ishmael and Anna K., are never given much physical description, yet over the course of the novel we visualize them each in our own way. ‘It is precisely what the text does not elucidate that becomes an invitation to our imaginations.’ In Anna Karenina, we are given her weight, her ‘thick lashes’, her ‘little downy mustache’, but Mendelsund asks ‘what does she look like?’. We all have a mental image of her, images with overlapping features, but Mendelsund claims that assuredly none of them are Tolstoy’s Anna. In one page he features a photograph of Keira Knightley as Anna and asserts that ‘this is a theft’ robbing us of our personal images of Anna. However, he states that nobody has a ‘clear’ image of a character, there is no photo-realistic image in our minds. Rather a blurred stand in, we may see hair here or an eye there (particularly in Bovary as her eye color changed throughout the novel), but never a full image. This goes with setting as well. He goes into detail and examples of how literature leaves us with a set of points to describe an object and that our mind fills the gaps in naturally. It is the magic of literature, the power of words and imagination working together to be both an active participant and an audience member when reading a novel. He also examines how when reading we receive information over time, going back and adapting our mental image to new information, and that we do not perceive words ‘ One - At - A - Time’ but instead ‘ we take in whole eyefuls of words. We gulp them like water.’ Mendelsund compares a page in a book to being like a chord in music; each individual idea is like a single note but it is through the combination of the various details that we hear the music of a character or scene. Though we only experience one note at a time, we ‘hear’ them as a chord. Also worth noting is his descriptions on how a character is not made by their descriptions, Mendelsund says, but by their actions. He brings Aristotle to his aid:Aristotle claimed that Self is an action, and that we discover something’s nature through knowing it telos. A knife becomes a knife through cutting…. ‘The distance between language and image is always the same’ - Italo Calvino Another of the many aspects to the visual nature of literature covered by Mendelsund (in no way can I cover them all here) is the idea of the visual eye being like a film camera of sorts. Visualization is not like film, when an object is described the mind’s eye does not ‘zoom in’, but flashes an expression of the idea in the mind. Mendelsund questions how we perceive a scene in our mind through different P.O.V.’s and wonders how it is from first or third person (I myself tend to visualize all books in a third person perspective, ‘seeing’ the character even if it is told in first person). He also examines how we fill in details in our minds eye with images familiar to us, and asks how often we picture a character as having similar traits to someone we know in our own lives² or may transport the imagery of a Russian battlefield from War and Peace to the familiar setting of a childhood park. What We See When We Read is a fun and visually impressive investigation into the abstract visualizations we all experience while reading. What I found particularly enjoyable was its insistence on reading as the most engaging of media forms since we as readers have our own agency and ‘As readers, we are the conductor and the orchestra, as well as the audience’. Through a vast assortment of great minds, Mendelsund has created a book that captures the essence of the visual stimulation of great novels and helps remind us of the joys that keep us coming back to books. 3.5/5 ¹ The ‘inward eye’ is borrowed from William Wordsworth poem recalling yellow flowers seen by a lake: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood They flash upon that inward eye Whis is the bliss of solitude… ² While reading Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks at the same time as a co-worker, we one day realized we had both visualized the character Esther Little as looking like an older woman we worked with. We had many laughs about this for weeks to come.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Or, rather what we see when there isn't much to read in a book we're trying to read. Quite a paradoxy. Illustrations, illustrations, some random words splattered across it all, more illustrations. Whoa? DNF-ing this pic book. Bye-bye. Or, rather what we see when there isn't much to read in a book we're trying to read. Quite a paradoxy. Illustrations, illustrations, some random words splattered across it all, more illustrations. Whoa? DNF-ing this pic book. Bye-bye.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    What an utterly absorbing and fascinating read. Mendelsund, a renowned cover designer, looks into exactly what the title suggest, what we see (or think we see) when we read. He dissects everything from first lines and impressions to the performative nature of reading; the reader as a part of the text to how memory implants itself on the mind's eye while reading. It's packed with illustrations and provides an excellent starting point to further examine what we are doing exactly when we read words What an utterly absorbing and fascinating read. Mendelsund, a renowned cover designer, looks into exactly what the title suggest, what we see (or think we see) when we read. He dissects everything from first lines and impressions to the performative nature of reading; the reader as a part of the text to how memory implants itself on the mind's eye while reading. It's packed with illustrations and provides an excellent starting point to further examine what we are doing exactly when we read words on a page. I think all readers should read this book, for the mere fact that they would find something resonant in the work. I particularly was fond of the passage that said: "When we want to co-create, we read. We want to participate; and we want ownership. We would rather have sketches than verisimilitude--because the sketches, at least, are ours" (198). Or perhaps, "Books allow us certain freedoms--we are free to be mentally active when we read; we are full participants in the making (the imagining) of a narrative" (192). Or maybe finally, "If books were roads, some would be made for driving quickly--details are scant, and what details there are appear drab--but the velocity and torque of the narrative is exhilarating. Some books, if seen as roads, would be made for walking--the trajectory of the road mattering far less than the vistas these roads might afford. The best book for me: I drive through it quickly but am forced to stop on occasion, to pull over and marvel. These books are meant to be reread. (The first time through, I can tear along, as fast as possible, and then later, I'll enjoy a leisurely stroll--so that I can see what I've missed)" (96). Go read it, and see for yourself (ha!).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I somehow forgot to review this one despite reading it in preparation for my Reading May Experience course, and using some of the quotations and bits from it in reflection prompts. This is a visual study on what we know about reading. This is a book I'd like to own and dip in and out of from time to time, a real pleasure. Most people who read will get something out of it.“The openings of To the Lighthouse and Moby-Dick are confusing for the reader – we haven’t yet been given sufficient informati I somehow forgot to review this one despite reading it in preparation for my Reading May Experience course, and using some of the quotations and bits from it in reflection prompts. This is a visual study on what we know about reading. This is a book I'd like to own and dip in and out of from time to time, a real pleasure. Most people who read will get something out of it.“The openings of To the Lighthouse and Moby-Dick are confusing for the reader – we haven’t yet been given sufficient information to begin processing the narrative and its imagery. But we are used to such confusion. All books open in doubt and dislocation. When you first open a book, you enter a liminal space.” (60-61)Sometimes Mendelsund muses on an idea and leaves it open for the reader to answer. “We gulp words and phases when we read quickly, but we also may choose to savor some texts, and roll them on our tongues. (Does the speed at which we read affect the vividness of our imagination?)” (96)Oh hey I EVEN discussed this book on Episode 057 of the Reading Envy Podcast, and still completely forgot to post about it here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)

    I must begin this review by stating my prejudice of supreme enjoyment when reading about reading. I find this enterprise endlessly fascinating. The more I examine it the more there seems to examine. Along with the purity of sheer enjoyment there was nothing which shattered my world, nor though was it a dry review of what I already knew. By including drawings, pieces of conceptual art-he is best known for designing book covers for well known works-he conjured from his imagination pictorials which I must begin this review by stating my prejudice of supreme enjoyment when reading about reading. I find this enterprise endlessly fascinating. The more I examine it the more there seems to examine. Along with the purity of sheer enjoyment there was nothing which shattered my world, nor though was it a dry review of what I already knew. By including drawings, pieces of conceptual art-he is best known for designing book covers for well known works-he conjured from his imagination pictorials which most of the time exemplified the essence of the point he was making. In what We See When We Read, Peter Mendesund stressed using our readerly imagination. He stressed our being readerly. The act of reading is one where we participate. Rather than a passive perception rendered unto us we are inside the book with our own images, memories experiences. Our reading of the text is a one time event on the planet where our mind joins in some way, possibly transcendent, possibly spiritual, the author's. Which part of an author's mind is involved is not called forth and maybe cannot be. There is some non-evidentiary evidence sheltering in the self contented world of non-measurement involving this mystical union. The cloying hands of theories need not enter. The writer's responsibility is to relate just enough detail versus description to invite the reader to fill in the precious gaps, becoming part of the narrative. Reports do not work, works of art do. Yet nothing new but the articulate writing, the examples-especially from Wolfe's, To The Lighthouse- some angular scopings offering refreshing hues of colored light on what memory left as drab. I felt like a kid. I couldn't wait to start reading a new book and try some of these new-old things or at least be more aware. A setback was clearly that his points were his own specific style of reading out of countless variations and varieties.Too often he used, "We", and made universal proclamations that this is how we all should read. I was having such a good time I was able to overlook it. There are probably many who wouldn't. Understandable. Finding myself in a rare moment of forgiveness overriding crankiness I found it fascinating to be inside of how another person reads, enjoying both the overlaps as well as the differences. How many times have I talked with another about the act of reading, how they participate, experience versus myself who forgets too quickly and easily, battles to visually perceive the words, images? Only my wife who cannot understand that I don't automatically see the images from the words read. The point I'm laboring to get to is that by viewing how an articulate an open other reads helped me to identify my own style. The lines became crisper. I became more accepting, while still entertaining a further emphasis or new ideas to swim about my mind as a reader. To summarize: Duh, I never really thought about it before. Even while reading the book I feared I would become hyper alert, increasing self conscious and my internal readerly computer might well crash. It didn't and hasn't. If anyone has gotten this far in this lengthy review I want to put out there that this is what I am most curious about when it comes to GR readers. I would love to see a thread that goes on and on about how each of us may read differently. 3.89/5

  8. 4 out of 5

    JimZ

    This was an enjoyable read. A very unique book by an author who has a very unique job: being associate art director for the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. It is ~419 pages long on the behavior or the process of reading. Thought-provoking. One thought that flitted across my mind about halfway through the book is how on earth all of us as humans are able to look at marks on a page, a whole page full of marks, and read them. Decode those marks into words. And yet if I were to open up a book in t This was an enjoyable read. A very unique book by an author who has a very unique job: being associate art director for the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. It is ~419 pages long on the behavior or the process of reading. Thought-provoking. One thought that flitted across my mind about halfway through the book is how on earth all of us as humans are able to look at marks on a page, a whole page full of marks, and read them. Decode those marks into words. And yet if I were to open up a book in the German language, well it would be marks on a page to me. Anyway that is what the writing gently nudged me into thinking. The book got me to think about all sorts of things….maybe because of the actual text I was reading, or maybe because that text made me think of something else which got me to daydreaming…even while I was still reading the book and halfway comprehending it because my attention was torn between what I was reading and my daydreaming. Got it? 🧐 One chapter was titled Abstractions. And the following was an exercise the author asked the reader to embark on and for whatever reason it delighted me. I just loved it. OK, here goes: Do we visualize anything when we read? Of course we must visualize something…Not all reading is merely abstract, the interplay of theoretical notions. Some of our mental conduct seems to be pictorial. Try this thought experiment. 1. Think of the capital letter D. 2. Now imagine it turning ninety degrees counterclockwise. 3. Now take it and mentally place it on top of the capital letter J. Now…what is the weather like, in your mind? And the next page showed what I was thinking of…the picture I had created from his instructions. A whole two pages of u_______s!!! I said the book was ~419 pages. I read it in one sitting. You might say, “Yeesh, this sounds like an erudite book. There is no way you could get through that book in one sitting.” Ah, but that was another nice aspect of the book. One page was a drawing by the author or at times there might have been a reproduction of a page of a book, or a picture of a book dustjacket, or an object (a pipe)…and on the facing page was some text, not many lines. I had started the book and was immersed and then took a look at what page I was on and it was in the 100s. But yes, I tend to read on the fast side. And Peter Mendelsund opined about that. Some people read slowly and some will read faster. Some people will go back to something they did not understand. Others will continue on, figuring that the rest of the page or the next page will enlighten them on whatever they did not previously understand. A Goodreads friend wrote a wonderful review of this book and I wrote him back and said “Great review, but I probably would not understand it, although I understood what you said in your review.” (I was afraid it was too erudite for me and it would be over my head.) But he said that he thought there was a good chance I would understand it. And he was right. I can’t recite chapter and verse, but I enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. One last thing. One of the key points of the book (but there were many) is that who the reader is counts for a lot when it comes to interpreting a book (what is the book about?). When I read a book, I come with 65 years of history. A very particular history. Unique—just me. When you read that same book you come with your own history. So my reading experience will be different than yours. Guaranteed. What’s more, I might read a book now and then read a book 20 years later and my interpretation might be markedly different. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that this website would be a whole lot more boring if my review of this book was a dead-on match with your review of the book. Unless we are reviewing a primer on “This is Spot the Dog) it is guaranteed the reviews will be different. And a GR friend made a comment that her reviews had her DNA written all over it (or words to that effect). You might learn a little something about me in my reviews and vice versa. Reviews: • Great review: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/01/bo... • https://nationalpost.com/entertainmen... • Very thoughtful & erudite review. https://notesofoak.com/book-review/wh...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book fascinated me and intrigued me -- and it will change the way I write. The images -- and the interpretation of the images -- taught me so much. Absolutely terrific and clever and, yes, a lot of fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barbara K

    You know how the sum is more than the whole of the parts? That is this book. A number of the ideas in this unique volume, where text frequently takes up little space on a page and graphic representations of Mendelsund's ideas abound, were already familiar to me on a scientific level. But the magic of this book is the way it rises above lab-based observations about how our brains and senses work, in favor of exploring the delicious and highly personal experience of reading a book . A focus that You know how the sum is more than the whole of the parts? That is this book. A number of the ideas in this unique volume, where text frequently takes up little space on a page and graphic representations of Mendelsund's ideas abound, were already familiar to me on a scientific level. But the magic of this book is the way it rises above lab-based observations about how our brains and senses work, in favor of exploring the delicious and highly personal experience of reading a book . A focus that is simultaneously narrow and broad. While reading this particular book I had frequent thoughts about sections I might want to comment on in a review, but in retrospect I realize that would just be wrong. This is not a book to be parsed out. It needs to be appreciated as a whole. These observations, appearing near the end of the book, provide a glimpse of Mendelsund's overall theme: "Authors are curators of experience. They filter out the world's noise, and out of that noise they make the purest signal they can-out of disorder they create narrative. They administer this narrative in the form of a book, and preside, in some ineffable way, over the reading experience. Yet no matter how pure the data set authors provide to readers-no matter how diligently prefiltered and tightly reconstructed-readers' brains will continue in their prescribed assignment: to analyze, screen and sort." How pleasant to be able to add another book to my "to re-read" shelf this early in the year. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone with an interest in the relationship between author and reader. And words on a page.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    Peter Mendelsund’s “What We See When We Read” might almost be useful to those just coming to the idea of immersive, experiential reading, analytical reading, especially non-fiction, does not figure into this work, but for those who’ve been following, or studying, the phenomenon of non-critical reading this will be a tedious read. The graphics are excellent, but they are disguising the fact you are reading a very, very short book—only 21k. The problem with this is that what you are getting is les Peter Mendelsund’s “What We See When We Read” might almost be useful to those just coming to the idea of immersive, experiential reading, analytical reading, especially non-fiction, does not figure into this work, but for those who’ve been following, or studying, the phenomenon of non-critical reading this will be a tedious read. The graphics are excellent, but they are disguising the fact you are reading a very, very short book—only 21k. The problem with this is that what you are getting is less a book and more a personal essay. There is, as well, very little critical thinking in the work [it is, after all, a personal essay] and no endnotes. For most this will not be a problem, but for any who wish to explore the ideas raised in this book the lack of references will seriously hamper their pursuit. The lack of endnotes and bibliography makes this work not the best entry position for a book exploring how most people read fiction [novels, short stories, poetry, and drama]. Above and beyond all of this is the fact that although the ‘essay’ is elegant, graceful, and aesthetically pleasing it is not, in the slightest, perceptive and lacks any deep thought on the part of the author. In the end, it is impossible to recommend this book for anyone but the most superficial of readers. 2 out of 5 stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jafar

    I started off liking this book. I thought Mendelsund was on to something interesting and original. But the more I read, the more I felt I was reading something by a postmodernist writer. You know the type. They sound high and mighty, but in the end it's impossible to tell what their point is, assuming they have a point. Mendelsund makes a great deal of how we imagine the characters of a novel look like. Well, I, for one, make no attempt to imagine how Anna Karenina looks like when I read the nov I started off liking this book. I thought Mendelsund was on to something interesting and original. But the more I read, the more I felt I was reading something by a postmodernist writer. You know the type. They sound high and mighty, but in the end it's impossible to tell what their point is, assuming they have a point. Mendelsund makes a great deal of how we imagine the characters of a novel look like. Well, I, for one, make no attempt to imagine how Anna Karenina looks like when I read the novel. What interests me is the ideas and dialogs and thoughts and actions and feelings of the characters. Whether Anna Karenina looks like Keira Knightly or not is besides the point. Same with locations. I find it irritating when a tiresome writer spends pages upon pages just describing how a room looks like.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sophie (The Uneducated Reader)

    In some places I was all like WOAH NO WAY and other places I was all like YEAH NO SHIT and other places I was all like LOL and other places I was all like PICTURES. 4 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Parts were really thought-provoking, but my quibble with this book is simply that I don't read the way the author reads. If there is a chair in the corner that the author doesn't describe, I don't wonder what color or style the chair is. If a scene takes place in a city I've never seen and the city isn't described, I don't graft Philadelphia on top of it. So the "WE see ..." and "WE feel..." statements don't ring true for me, and that colored my impression of the book. Maybe the title should hav Parts were really thought-provoking, but my quibble with this book is simply that I don't read the way the author reads. If there is a chair in the corner that the author doesn't describe, I don't wonder what color or style the chair is. If a scene takes place in a city I've never seen and the city isn't described, I don't graft Philadelphia on top of it. So the "WE see ..." and "WE feel..." statements don't ring true for me, and that colored my impression of the book. Maybe the title should have been "What Graphic Artists See When We Read." If you're looking for studies, research and citations, you won't find them here. This is a personal essay interspersed with illustrations, graphics, and word art. If you took out all of that, you'd have a very tiny book. I received this in my Book Riot Quarterly box and I'm glad it was an actual copy because I think this would be a bear to read in my traditional Nook ereader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    When reading Moby Dick, does Ishmael look like Richard Basehart? How about Anna Karenina? Please don’t tell me she looked like Keira Knightley. What We See When We Read takes a look at the activity of reading with such depth and insight. Looking at not only the way our brain fills in the images but also what the author is trying to say. Take for example Karenin in Anna Karenina; his ears are described a few times within the novel but they get bigger. The size of his ears is an artistic simulacru When reading Moby Dick, does Ishmael look like Richard Basehart? How about Anna Karenina? Please don’t tell me she looked like Keira Knightley. What We See When We Read takes a look at the activity of reading with such depth and insight. Looking at not only the way our brain fills in the images but also what the author is trying to say. Take for example Karenin in Anna Karenina; his ears are described a few times within the novel but they get bigger. The size of his ears is an artistic simulacrum that changes as Anna Karenina’s feelings toward him change. Peter Mendelsund is Knopf’s Associate Art Director and has been responsible for some of their most iconic book covers. Just looking at his book cover designs I get the sense that he loves reading and the artistic side of literature. His book covers really capture a feeling; they stand out and often work well with the written word inside. He is major is in Philosophy and Literature and the two work well together in looking at the idea of reading and how our minds interpret the written word. This is very much like Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, it explores the idea of reading in different ways and explores different concepts. We all read slightly different and Mendelsund is able to go into different methods. A stand out for me is the way Vladimir Nabokov read Kafka’s Metamorphosis; there is an image of his copy of the book and it looks like he edits and rewrites the book to make it his own. It is an interesting way to get involve with the written word. What We See When We Read is a combination of written words and images, which allows Mendelsund to illustrate his point and give the reader a better understanding of the feelings. A big bonus is the fact that he references other books, which gives me a huge TBR pile of books that explore this idea further in different ways. I love books about books so I am pleased to have a reading list. I have to say What We See When We Read is a must for all book lovers. This book will be a joy to read and will look good on the shelf. I own the new Vintage edition, which is a paperback but it also has French flaps so it looks nice. I like how he went for a simple cover design; it stands out and works well with this book. I know this book is rising in popularity and I hope more people get a chance to read this one as soon as possible. This review originally appeared on my blog: http://literary-exploration.com/2014/...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    Peter Mendelsund is the author of this delightful little book, ‘What We See When We Read.’ He has designed many book covers and he’s an avid reader. He delves into the mysteries of how our imaginations create the world of the book we are reading. I’ve mostly thought of a book as a movie unwinding before me visually but of course it’s so much more than that. Because in the movie we don’t often have access to the characters thoughts like we do in books. And of course most movies last only a couple Peter Mendelsund is the author of this delightful little book, ‘What We See When We Read.’ He has designed many book covers and he’s an avid reader. He delves into the mysteries of how our imaginations create the world of the book we are reading. I’ve mostly thought of a book as a movie unwinding before me visually but of course it’s so much more than that. Because in the movie we don’t often have access to the characters thoughts like we do in books. And of course most movies last only a couple of hours and a book depending on how quick a reader you are can take much longer. But Mendelsund puts forward the thought that our minds assimilate pictures from our memories that accommodate the book we’re reading. Food for thought. I don’t know if I completely agree. There are some books I read that I have nothing in my memory banks to draw upon for some descriptions. Like Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. Where in my memories would I have anything upon which to establish a visual image of the amorphous blob of Borne? I personally think the mind is capable of grand leaps of imagination provoked by reading. But I could be wrong! Mendelsund is very persuasive and I love much of what he has written. For example, “In music, notes and chords define ideas, but so do rests...... Chatacters are ciphers. And narratives are made richer by omission.” This feels just right. With extreme ease, we, as readers, can slip into the skins of many characters. The more we imagine them to be like us, the easier it is. How many times have I had to put a book down just to draw in a breathe of awe at the sparseness of wording that elucidates a vivid picture? Mendelsund also writes, “When we read, we take in whole eyefuls of words. We gulp them like water.” This is my favorite metaphor because I frequently feel thirsty for a book and when I’ve enjoyed some good reading time, I’m sated. There is so much to explore in ‘What We See When We Read.’ Reading it feels like the start of an exploration. It also feels like the turning of a key.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Curious

    This book is the pinnacle of 'show don't tell.' It's written & illustrated by a highly regarded book cover designer. 2 of his designs that I'm fascinated by are The Kafka Covers, you know which ones. They have the creepy eyes on them. And the James Joyce books, the minimalist covers with the corrections as part of the design. Mendelsund designed a book that shows us what we see, when we read. It's so literal the pages of Dickens' opening lines for Bleak House drift into London's Fog. We can easil This book is the pinnacle of 'show don't tell.' It's written & illustrated by a highly regarded book cover designer. 2 of his designs that I'm fascinated by are The Kafka Covers, you know which ones. They have the creepy eyes on them. And the James Joyce books, the minimalist covers with the corrections as part of the design. Mendelsund designed a book that shows us what we see, when we read. It's so literal the pages of Dickens' opening lines for Bleak House drift into London's Fog. We can easily read the 1st page of Joyce's Ulysses until the fonts collapse into our consciousness and all we see on the page are a blur of tiny text shrinking then crashing into itself. Stuffed between these elaborately designed typography are almost academic essays. He gives more information than a newbie can handle so we can take a breather and read the pictures he creates for us. It's a book to return to again and again. And one to experience for a lifetime. If you're interested in understanding the experience of reading, this could be a great introductory book for the topic. It's more accessible than a traditional textbook. And more enjoyable than an online lecture. I'm curious how high schoolers would perceive this book? Teens today are raised with cell phones and don't know a world without the internet. So their opinions on this book would be so unique compared to us dinosaurs who were raised with card catalogues. I'll certainly link a blog post here with some recommendations of phenomenology books he brings up in this one (as footnotes of course). My Review: What We See When We Read Images We Can Read http://www.biblioatlas.com/2018/07/wh...

  18. 4 out of 5

    lark benobi

    A whimsical graphic journey that invites us to ask ourselves: Just what is going on in our heads when we read fiction? Do we really SEE Anna Karenina? Why does it seem boring and unnecessary when writers try to write detailed descriptions of their characters—hair, eyes, skin, bearing—and why do singular markers, like slender hands, or a certain way of holding the chin, work better? How do books with illustrations change how we see the characters? What do we give up when we let an actor in a movi A whimsical graphic journey that invites us to ask ourselves: Just what is going on in our heads when we read fiction? Do we really SEE Anna Karenina? Why does it seem boring and unnecessary when writers try to write detailed descriptions of their characters—hair, eyes, skin, bearing—and why do singular markers, like slender hands, or a certain way of holding the chin, work better? How do books with illustrations change how we see the characters? What do we give up when we let an actor in a movie based on the book invade our literary imagination and become the character we see in our heads the next time we read the book? Mendelsund’s book is a visual experience, with language chosen as much for its graphic effect as its semantic meaning. And that approach to language is completely appropriate for his subject. His arguments and observations of the visual impressions we make as we read are intriguing and delightful, and often they are deep and surprising, too. Sometimes as I experienced this book I reflected on the near-constant use of the word “we” in the text. It seemed a given to Mendelsund that “We” all read more or less the same way. But do “We” really all read the same way? What if “I” as an individual reader don’t experience visual cues from reading the same way as the “We” of this text does? What would Temple Grandin think of Mendelsund’s assumptions about how “We” visualize what we read? There were definitely some exploratory meanders in this book that spoke to me less than others, when, instead of thinking “huh, he’s right!” I thought “no I don’t think that’s the way it is for me.” But exploratory questions like these are invited by Mendelsund, not proscribed by him. This isn’t a thesis, it’s a journey, and a very fun journey at that, one that is very likely to enrich the way I read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    once a reading of a book is under way, and we sink into the experience, a performance of a sort begins... we perform a book - we perform a reading of a book. we perform a book, and we attend the performance. (as readers, we are both the conductor and the orchestra, as well as the audience) jacket designer (and knopf associate art director) peter mendelsund has produced some of the most iconic cover art of recent years (a quick google image search is revealing). what we see when we read is an ex once a reading of a book is under way, and we sink into the experience, a performance of a sort begins... we perform a book - we perform a reading of a book. we perform a book, and we attend the performance. (as readers, we are both the conductor and the orchestra, as well as the audience) jacket designer (and knopf associate art director) peter mendelsund has produced some of the most iconic cover art of recent years (a quick google image search is revealing). what we see when we read is an examination of the seemingly simple act of reading - a "phenomenology with illustrations". mendelsund explores what happens in the mind of the reader as they interpret and visualize a text-based story. words are effective not because of what they carry in them, but for their latent potential to unlock the accumulated experience of the reader. words "contain" meanings, but, more important, words potentiate meaning... with chapters covering an array of subjects (picturing "picturing," time, vividness, co-creation, abstractions, memory & fantasy, synesthesia, belief, the part & the whole, et al.), mendelsund deftly reflects upon reading as a complex process that is far less passive than commonly presumed. contemplative and personal, what we see when we read anatomizes reading - but does so with the familiar eye and knowing hand of an admirer.maybe the reading imagination is a fundamentally mystical experience - irreducible by logic. these visions are like revelations. they hail from transcendental sources, and are not of us - they are visited upon us. perhaps the visions are due to a metaphysical union of reader and author. perhaps the author taps the universal, and becomes a medium for it. (perhaps the process is supernatural?)... perhaps the very notion that readers are "see-ers" and the conventions we use to describe the reading experience derive from his tradition - the tradition of visitation, annunciation, dream vision, prophecy, and other manifestations of religious or mystical epiphany...one of the many charms of mendelsund's book (one that begs to be reread and mused upon) is that his style of writing is marked by an easy, intimate quality - as if the two of you were sharing in a casual conversation or thought experiment with no real aim save for a free exchange of ideas or the satisfaction of stirring another's imagination for the sake of it. mendelsund has clearly pondered the act/art of reading for some time and what we see when we read appears as a textual/graphic summation of his elucidations. a light fog gently blown away, but with enough atmosphere retained to preserve the intrigue.ernst gombrich tells us that, in viewing art, there is no "innocent eye." there is no such thing in art as the naïve reception of imagery. this is true of reading as well. like painters, or writers, or even participants in a video game, we make choices - we have agency. when we want to co-create, we read. we want to participate; and we want ownership. we would rather have sketches than verisimilitude - becuase the sketches, at least, are ours. (and yet, readers still contend that they want to "lose themselves" in a story...)visiting (and lingering within) the works of woolf, tolstoy, melville, dickens, calvino, nabokov, kafka, and others, mendelsund's book hovers near the realm of cognitive psychology - but strays no further than its event horizon. free from pedantic grandstanding or academical self-pleasuring, what we see when we read is sharp and perceptive, yet also humble and unassuming. it is, most of all, a stimulating and pleasurable rumination on an act so many of us could never do without.authors are curators of experience. they filter the world's noise, and out of that noise they make the purest signal they can - out of disorder they create narrative. they administer this narrative in the form of a book, and preside, in some ineffable way, over the reading experience. yet no matter how pure the data set that authors provide to readers - no matter how diligently prefiltered and tightly reconstructed - readers' brains will continue in their prescribed assignment: to analyze, screen, and sort. our brains will treat a book as if it were any other of the world's many unfiltered, encrypted signals. that is, the author's book, for readers, reverts to a species of noise. we take in as much of the author's world as we can, and mix this material with our own in the alembic of our reading minds, combining them to alchemize something unique. i would propose that this is why reading "works": reading mirrors the procedure by which we acquaint ourselves with the world. it is not that our narratives necessarily tell us something true about the world (though they might), but rather that the practice of reading feels like, and is like, consciousness itself: imperfect; partial; hazy; co-creative. *while i'm typically not overly fond of blurbs penned by fellow authors, chris ware's bears special mention: "it reads as if the ghost of italo calvino audited vladimir nabokov's literature class and wrote his final paper with the help of alvin lustig and the radiolab guys." **speaking of calvino, mendelsund is currently at work on a project to repackage twenty of the late italian master's backlist titles - the first few of which are due this fall (see the 8/5 new yorker interview for the exciting details).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Marciano

    Peter Mendelsund is one of the best jacket designer (and knopf associate art director) out there. What we see when we read has to be one of the smartest books ever written (and designed) about reading and imagining....I absolutely loved it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Patronizing/ insulting. Almost nothing objective, much less scientific. Lots of material collected from others, for example Nabokov on Dickens... did we really need Mendelsund's take layered on top of that? So much of this stuff, like mapping the course of the characters' fortunes, is taught to schoolchildren. Most of the rest is self-indulgent sophomoric philosophizing. The kind of stuff done in the common room of the dormitory in the middle of the night, when participants are high on stress, fr Patronizing/ insulting. Almost nothing objective, much less scientific. Lots of material collected from others, for example Nabokov on Dickens... did we really need Mendelsund's take layered on top of that? So much of this stuff, like mapping the course of the characters' fortunes, is taught to schoolchildren. Most of the rest is self-indulgent sophomoric philosophizing. The kind of stuff done in the common room of the dormitory in the middle of the night, when participants are high on stress, freedom, and lack of sleep. Lots of use of the word "we." Either the author doesn't realize that other readers may not have the same experiences that he does, or it's a royal we. No matter which, it's annoying. Now, if he'd actually had another BS artist contributing half of the book (well, doubling the length of the book I should say because this is shamefully short even if one studies the pictures closely and rereads every topic sentence and googles every unfamiliar reference), one who had a different perspective, and we were reading as if spectators at that dormitory competition between two wannabe intellectuals, the book might have been worth the afternoon that I spent trying to appreciate it. But he didn't. And it wasn't.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly Dunn

    This book was incredible and a must-read for any bibliophile. It explores what we picture when we read novels, in particular focusing on characters. Mendelsund is a graphic designer who specialises in book covers, so the design of this book is superlative. Filled with maps, drawings and diagrams, each page is a pleasure and a surprise. I devoured this book. It made me think really deeply about what I visualise when I’m reading. My only complaint was that it wasn’t longer and therefore didn't go This book was incredible and a must-read for any bibliophile. It explores what we picture when we read novels, in particular focusing on characters. Mendelsund is a graphic designer who specialises in book covers, so the design of this book is superlative. Filled with maps, drawings and diagrams, each page is a pleasure and a surprise. I devoured this book. It made me think really deeply about what I visualise when I’m reading. My only complaint was that it wasn’t longer and therefore didn't go into more detail and theory. It's a fascinating topic that I'm keen to read more about.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather Dawn Stowell

    After my university course, I took in the year 2000, "An Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism," my love of reading was completely destroyed by overanalysis and the formal application of the process of literary deconstruction that permeated and depleted my entire belief system. My worldview became incredibly jaded and it could not have been more bitter. I simply could no longer read fiction, and I could not believe in anything else either as my willing suspension of disbelief was much, m After my university course, I took in the year 2000, "An Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism," my love of reading was completely destroyed by overanalysis and the formal application of the process of literary deconstruction that permeated and depleted my entire belief system. My worldview became incredibly jaded and it could not have been more bitter. I simply could no longer read fiction, and I could not believe in anything else either as my willing suspension of disbelief was much, much too greatly damaged. It took years to rediscover, rebuild and recover from this both psychic and intellectual injury. It truly nearly utterly destroyed me. This is a book that offers full and complete redemption for that soul-rending experience. It is a brilliant, fascinating love affair with the visual that explores the act of reading. It takes abstract thoughts about reading and draws them down to the earth, makes love to meaning itself and gently writes them upon the minds of the receptive. This book solidifies the belief that all authors are curators of experience. It elicits an even deeper feeling of reverence than what was revealed to me previously. The like of which I experienced when I read The Guttenberg Elegies with its description of reading as "a resonance of deep time"( paraphrased) It takes the reader into this same space of "a resonance of deep time," and maps the constellations while still eluding assigning them mythological names or contemporary labels. The author keeps it real. "the level of detail determines not what a person sees as they read, rather it informs their experience - their reading experience." (paraphrase) "The feeling of reading in general (is of being)- in many many places places at at once once.” "We colonize books with our familiars and we exile, repatriate the characters to lands that we are more acquainted with." "words potentiate meaning." My summary based on my understanding of Mendelsunds closing argument that: "we reduce. And it is not without reverence that we reduce. This is how we apprehend our world. This is what humans do.” ---> is that all perception is the result of a blurring of the senses together with a melding of thoughts. These by the necessity of needing to stream and simplify this gestalt ocean of data become outlines, types, categories that are, at best, blurred versions of our perceived realities. And there is a huge, huge difference between deconstruction and reduction that I never knew existed until now. This book exalts (and does not deconstruct) the meaning of 'reduction,' and it also defines the glory to be found in our human attunement to this process of reduction that lovingly blurs our differences. Perhaps then the unworded proposition is that reading is the act of seeing a bit better through this blur? I think I might be in love with this book. Can you tell? Or perhaps it's awe, true awe. This is the rare phenomenon of being awestruck by beauty and magnificence combined.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eleanore

    This was fantastic and I tore through it. It's designed to be read quickly, though, but that doesn't hinder it. The only thing keeping this from a 5 star rating is I feel there could've been even more material explored; it really only scratches the surface. It's not a shallow examination of this concept, though, and what it covers, it covers very well. This one passage in particular grabbed me and demanded rereading: "River, the word, contains within it all rivers, which flow like tributaries in This was fantastic and I tore through it. It's designed to be read quickly, though, but that doesn't hinder it. The only thing keeping this from a 5 star rating is I feel there could've been even more material explored; it really only scratches the surface. It's not a shallow examination of this concept, though, and what it covers, it covers very well. This one passage in particular grabbed me and demanded rereading: "River, the word, contains within it all rivers, which flow like tributaries into it. And this word contains not only all rivers, but more important all my rivers: every accessible experience of every river I've seen, swum in, fished, heard, heard about, felt directly or been affected by in any other manner oblique, secondhand or otherwise. These 'rivers' are infinitely tessellating rills and affluents that feed fiction's ability to spur the imagination. I read the word river and, with or without context, I'll dip beneath its surface." A visually rich and clever examination of an inherently abstract concept.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Book blurb: A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading - how we visualize images from reading works of literature. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? This book clocks in at 425 pages, but don't let that scare you away, and is a must read for anyone who loves to read. It explores what happens in our brains when we read novels, especially as it relates Book blurb: A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading - how we visualize images from reading works of literature. What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? This book clocks in at 425 pages, but don't let that scare you away, and is a must read for anyone who loves to read. It explores what happens in our brains when we read novels, especially as it relates to the characters on the page. How much does the author really tell us, and how is it that we feel like we know certain characters so intimately? The book itself is chock-full of drawings, maps, diagrams, and images to help illustrate the point the text is making, and it can be read in a couple of sittings, though I took my time with it to let things really sink in. This book made me really think about, and examine how it is that I create worlds and characters in my head, and I have no doubt that this is one that I'll read again once I've had time to marinate on this first reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund should have been a delightful and insightful book. It wasn't; not for me. It's unusual, with many pages black with white print, clever (and not so clever) illustrations. Bits of text from novels shown in ways that purportedly illustrate how we see them. None of this worked for me. Next time you're in the library or a bookstore take a look at it. I'm sure it would appeal to somebody; maybe that's you. I read a library copy. This is not a book for th What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund should have been a delightful and insightful book. It wasn't; not for me. It's unusual, with many pages black with white print, clever (and not so clever) illustrations. Bits of text from novels shown in ways that purportedly illustrate how we see them. None of this worked for me. Next time you're in the library or a bookstore take a look at it. I'm sure it would appeal to somebody; maybe that's you. I read a library copy. This is not a book for the Kindle.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    It's really beautifully illustrated, but it doesn't really say much. Not having read the classics that he uses for examples (Anna Karenina, Dickens, books many people will have read) didn't help my disconnect, but I don't think that was the problem. It just didn't say much that illuminated how I read, there was nothing that made me say, "ah, interesting." I was hoping to get it at the same time as his other new book, Cover, since I read that they work well together, but the library has a will of It's really beautifully illustrated, but it doesn't really say much. Not having read the classics that he uses for examples (Anna Karenina, Dickens, books many people will have read) didn't help my disconnect, but I don't think that was the problem. It just didn't say much that illuminated how I read, there was nothing that made me say, "ah, interesting." I was hoping to get it at the same time as his other new book, Cover, since I read that they work well together, but the library has a will of its own, so I'll have to judge them separately.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    This was an excellent book on the visual image provoked by good writing. It was interesting to me because I typically don't see images when I read. I see the words on the page. My daughter thinks I am very strange as she sees things like a movie in her head when she reads. I would love to be able to do that. After reading this book, I am wondering if perhaps I am just not a careful reader and that is part of the problem. This was an excellent book on the visual image provoked by good writing. It was interesting to me because I typically don't see images when I read. I see the words on the page. My daughter thinks I am very strange as she sees things like a movie in her head when she reads. I would love to be able to do that. After reading this book, I am wondering if perhaps I am just not a careful reader and that is part of the problem.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan Barber

    “If books were roads, some would be made for driving quickly - details are scant, and what details there are appear drab - but the velocity and torque of the narrative is exhilarating. Some books, if seen as roads, would be make for walking - the trajectory of the road mattering far less than the vistas these roads might afford. The best book for me: I drive through it quickly but am forced to stop on occasion, to pull over and marvel.” I really, really enjoyed this book for several reasons. Firs “If books were roads, some would be made for driving quickly - details are scant, and what details there are appear drab - but the velocity and torque of the narrative is exhilarating. Some books, if seen as roads, would be make for walking - the trajectory of the road mattering far less than the vistas these roads might afford. The best book for me: I drive through it quickly but am forced to stop on occasion, to pull over and marvel.” I really, really enjoyed this book for several reasons. First - I'm a reader and always have been. When I try to talk to people about reading, some people nod their heads and are with me in conversation but for others, reading is more work. This book helped me think about the act of reading and what's happening (or not happening) when we read. Second, there's so much of this book I can take to my classroom for mini-lessons or use this language for explanation. It's very practical from a teaching perspective. Finally, I just loved the experimental nature of the book - extremely image driven and as a visual learner, I love the way the images drove my thinking.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Clare Carter

    So I do not normally read nonfiction, but I read this on the recommendation of my friend Ellie and WOWZA as both a reader and a writer this blew my mind just a little bit. A lot of things definitely went a bit over my head and also some of the points seemed to contradict each other a bit, but honestly I think I just need to re-read this some point so that I can just delve into it more. Honestly, this felt like an amazingly well-written essay that has just been packaged in this amazing visual gra So I do not normally read nonfiction, but I read this on the recommendation of my friend Ellie and WOWZA as both a reader and a writer this blew my mind just a little bit. A lot of things definitely went a bit over my head and also some of the points seemed to contradict each other a bit, but honestly I think I just need to re-read this some point so that I can just delve into it more. Honestly, this felt like an amazingly well-written essay that has just been packaged in this amazing visual graphic novel-esk format. Not something I ever thought I would read, but I know I'll be thinking about a lot of its ideas for the rest of forever!

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