What We See When We Read
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I first heard about this book on the Book Riot ‘Reading Lives’ podcast. It’s such a fascinating idea. It was so interesting, to me, to really pay attention to and think about what’s going on in my mind’s eye when I’m reading.
I do wish it had delved deeper into the subject – more of a ‘why do we see what we see when we read’ – but perhaps that was outside the book’s scope. But as a result, it’s got me interested enough to seek out some further reading on this subject.
I don’t read much nonfiction but I really enjoyed this book. Recommended!