What do we see when we read? (pictures)

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Several studies show that reading is extremely effective in stimulating our imagination. Every single page from a book pushes us to create a collection of images in our mind.

What do you see when you are reading the book? How do these pictures evolve while you advance the plot? Does the world the book had created change when you are reaching for it after a couple of years?

There is no better person to answer these extremely interesting questions than an exceptionally talented designer with an eye for a words. Peter Mendelsund, the artist behind many famous book covers, has just released a book What We See When We Read (Random House, ⇢ Kindle Edition $12).

As we read in the Huffington Post:

What Mendelsund explicitly does is describe, with words and images, what we picture with our minds while reading words on a page. What he does more indirectly is defend the unique magic of reading, an art form that enlivens our ability to perceive creatively.

In the brave investigation into how we understand the act of reading, Peter Mendelsund combines his visual cleverness with a verbal originality.

The book does not, however, delve into studies, facts, or spreadsheets. Instead, you’ll join a personal journey, full of witty anecdotes, into the picturesque land of reading. The journey each of us takes every time we open a book – without even realizing it.

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All images from “What We See When We Read” by Peter Mendelsund, courtesy of Huffington Post.

What We See When We Read - book coverWhat We See When We Read

Peter Mendelsund

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.

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 considers 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.

⇢ Amazon $12