Friday 22 August 2014

What We See When We Read

(August 2014)

A fascinating little book, this. But, perhaps fittingly, one that’s very hard to capture the experience of reading at a remove. Easy to read, hard to say what reading it is like.

Mendelsund is a designer at a major publishing house, and this book takes us on an illustrated journey of, well, what we see when we read, or how words work to form pictures in our minds. It flirts with profundity without ever really diving in fully in, and that shouldn’t be seen as a negative. ‘Accessible’ has unfortunately become a word with all sorts of negative connotations, but it certainly applies here, and it’s entirely fitting that it does. The central thesis is that (good) authors only give us the barest of bones when constructing images, or skeletons of images, and a great deal of the pleasure of reading comes from fleshing them out ourselves. As such, this works as an excellent primer in itself, giving you enough to get going but then leaving the rest up to you. Recommended.

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