12 amazing book visualizations
In this post you’ll find highly creative book visualizations, presenting books in a surprisingly new light.
In times of picture-driven internet, where we are hunting for various kinds of infographics, animations, and chart, books prove they are a highly inspiring topic for visual design.
Many of these visualizations are possible thanks to the internet and digitization.
As soon as the book goes digital, its entire content can be analysed like never before. Creators can include much more data in the analysis, what leads to breath-taking visuals.
Let’s just take a tool every internet user can utilize: Google Ngram Viewer. You can track the appearance of selected words in books over time. A simple idea to make infographics like this one: Love DNA of classic novels.
Processing the information is important, but nothing will replace the talent of a designer to present the data in a clear and exciting way.
You’ll see below the greatest examples of data visualization applied to books, but not only that. Having unlimited access to images on the internet artists can create collages that represent the content of a single book or entire book genres. In the list below you’ll see such examples as well.
Please share in the comments the projects that should be highlighted. I’ll add them in the next update of the list.
12 amazing book visualizations
1. Opening lines of famous novels
This is one of the most stunning designs from Pop Chart Lab. The chart brings the most exciting analysis of what many book lovers consider the most exciting part of the book: opening line.
Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels breaks down grammatical construction of opening sentences of 25 famous novels.
Each sentence is diagrammed into a partitioned, color-coded pictogram, according to the dictates of the classic Reed-Kellogg system.
Whether you’re a book buff, an English teacher, or a hard-line grammarian, this diagrammatical dissertation has something for the aesthete in all of us.
2. Plot Lines
This is one of the most beautiful examples of literary visualizations I’ve ever seen – and it actually gives a very useful advice for every aspiring author.
What’s the best recipe to make your novel a bestseller? Kill off your characters.
The infographic was developed by Joanna Kamradt and Christian Tate for the literary magazine “Delayed Gratification”. It analyses the plot of 13 novels that won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2011.
Every single title includes death – the black part of the chart is overwhelmingly large.
3. Narrative structure of books
What you see above is just a teaser – a screenshot of an interactive visualization of narrative flow of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
The visualization was developed by Natalia Bilenko and Asako Miyakawa, neuroscience PhD students at UC Berkeley.
A dynamically changing graph studies connections between characters throughout the book. Emotional strength and valence of each sentence are shown in a color-coded sentiment plot.
When you hover over the sentence bars, you’ll see the text of the original sentences.
4. Color signatures
Artist and designer Jaz Parkinson created a wonderful art project called “Colour Signatures”.
Famous novels are presented in a form of posters/book covers, where colour spectrums are a reference to colours used in novels’ content.
Jaz explains more how the colours are found:
For example when it might say ‘yellow brick road,’ ‘yellow’ gets a tally, or when for example in The Road it says ‘dark ash covered everything’ (not an actual quote), that image evokes dark grey instantly in the mind, so dark grey gets a tally.
5. Connections between characters in Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest is a lengthy and complex 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace, full of cultural references, and exploiting deep multilevel relations between characters.
Designer Sam Potts took an attempt to visualize complex connections between characters from the book in a single chart.
The diagram doesn’t explain the story or show the advance of the plot. It’s just a sheer representation of how intense the narration in a single book can be, as seen through the plethora of connections between characters.
6. Top 10 bestsellers from 2000-2011
This awesome image includes every book from USA Today Top 10 weekly bestseller lists from 2000-2011. More than 6,000 book covers are shown, from 1,300 individual books.
The visualization was created by James R.A. Davenport, astronomer and social data analyst. He wrote a special script that was grabbing book covers every week.
If the book cover stands for the mood of the book, this chart is a fantastic way to see how our reading preferences evolved over time.
You can see the “decay time” of books as they drift off the bestseller list. Color choices seem to have become more saturated since 2000, and Twilight (big black band) is the undisputed champ.
7. Thematic flow of a book
In an image above you’ see the visual representation of A Year and a Day, a romance based in medieval Scotland, written by the New York Times bestseller author Virginia Henley.
The visualization is the outcome of a very interesting initiative by BookLamp and the Book Genome Project. A special algorithm was developed to analyze the topic and writing style of a book.
Such visualizations become a new, and very valuable, addition to book’s blurb, ratings and reviews. They fantastically describe (“display” would be a better word) what you can expect from a book, and how the plot evolves.
8. Color distribution of YA covers
YA writer Kate Hart wrote a great post uncovering YA covers. The post is accompanied by a series of images (one of them you see above, but there are other interesting ones to explore).
Kate gathered more than 900 books released in 2011 in United States. Then she researched the color distribution and demographic of these books.
9. Penguin sci-fi book covers over time
Arthur Buxton put together the most common colors of Penguin Publishing sci-fi books and arranged them over time. It’s interesting to see how iconic Penguin book cover art was evolving over time.
Each timeline represents all the iterations of a cover in chronological order.
Within each bar chart, length corresponds to the time in print and the dive most prominent colors are shown proportionally.
10. Connected words of 1984
“Connected” is a work of art by Greg Orrom Swan. The Bristol-based artist and designer connected the letters in the first two paragraphs of George Orwell’s 1984.
The image is a part of the larger art project called “Five Ways to Read 1984″.
12. Literary Organism
Stefanie Posavec created an astonishing Writing Without Words project that analyzes writing styles of famous authors between authors.
The visual you see above is “Literary Organism”. It analyses in detail Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It’s a simple organic structure that breaks down Part One of the book.
The chart breaks into chapters, chapters into paragraphs, paragraphs into sentences, and sentences into words. Everything has its own color according to key themes in On the Road.
12. The Great Gatsby chapter by chapter
Here is another visual from Pop Chart Lab. This time you can analyze, chapter by chapter, the plot in The Great Gatsby.
The graph traces the comings and goings of characters, but also movement by trains, cars, and feet – for Daisy, Nick, Tom, Gatsby, and every other character in the novel.
A map at the top of the chart also shows the 20s New York locations of scenes in the book.
• • •
More lists to explore:
- 12 beautiful vintage Christmas cards and illustrations
- 10 classic Christmas stories, free to download
- A photo project matches lovely dogs with famous writers (pictures)
- First lines from famous novels rewritten to catch attention today (pictures)
- Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 – readers have chosen best books of the year
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