What We See When We Read

Images We Can Read 

By Peter Mendelsund
Non-Fiction, Literary Criticsm, Graphic Novel 

Main Attractions

Peter Mendelsund
1. Bookish Book from a New POV
2. Intelligent Essay of Images
3. Densely Packed with Theory    
4. Lures you into Reading Classics
5. Exquisitely Designed Illustrations
6. Essays Arranged Thematically
7. Many other Books Referenced
8. Can be a Bunny Slipper Read
9. Invitation to Reflect on Reading
10. Can Spark Discussions

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Hearty Veggie Burger
As a non-fiction, it’s on the lighter side of the menu but not because 1/2 of the book contains pictures.  What We See When We Read is combining a few styles of writing to explain the philosophy of reading but is so much more than a mere philosophy book.  

Why Visit Here

As a graphic novel, it’s filled with references to those many classics that are familiar to us but  most of us have probably never read.  Perhaps these images could spark a renewed interest in picking up these dusty old books and giving them a chance.  For example, I could bet most people haven’t actually read Moby Dick, but everyone is keen on making jokes about some aspect of it.  The stories of these classics have become a part of our culture in more ways than we give them credit.  So if this book leads to them being read, that’s a great reason alone!

Of course, the actual goal of this book is to introduce a philosophy of reading to the general reader.  Avid reader’s often love bookish books, books about books and books that lead to more books.  Anything that leads us to read more is ok in our books!  Once we’ve gotten our fill of the bookish reads, it’s interesting to read about the experience of reading.  Reading about books is fairly common subject.  But to read about an experience of reading is very existential one indeed! 

Destination Summary

Mendelsund basically wrote some essays about the philosophy of reading and wove them into imagery that demonstrates the points he brings up in his essays.  It makes this a book to experience or to be aware of while reading it.  It’s certainly pretty and can be read as a light summer book.  But to dig deeper and really meditate on the experiences he’s outlining for us makes it a more immersive book.  Because so many of the pages are imagery, the essays are a little short on data and explanations.  So if you’d like more text and less flowery imagery, check out the Alternate Books, he references these 

Off the Beaten Path

Husserl & the Adventure of Phenomenology - In 12 Minutes
By Eric Dodson
In this video, he defines some key terms for understanding phenomenology and provides a brief history of this concept.  With his imagery, he makes this video clear & accessible.

Packing List
✓ Any Well Loved Classic Novel
✓ Also in a Graphic Novel Format
✓ An Open Mind & a Love of Reading

Recommended Resources
Some Books that are Referenced by Mendelsund
✓ Phenomenology of Reading (1969?) By Georges Poulet  - A more detailed account of the ideas brought up in Mendelsund’s book.
✓ Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) By Julian Jaynes  - A book about how the mind developed into consciousness from our more primitive animalistic mind.  Hotly debated & perhaps debunked for different theories.
✓ Theory of Colours (1810) By Goethe - Goethe  broke tradition by not relying on science to explain how colours work.  
✓ The Uses of Literature (1980) By Italo Calvino - A writer's meditations on what literature is, he includes many well loved works such as Ovid's Metamorphosis

Link for his blog, this page shows some of his very iconic designs.