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What We See When We Read (Vintage Original)

by

What We See When We Read (Vintage Original) Cover

ISBN13: 9780804171632
ISBN10: 0804171637
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Wow....Mendelsund has changed the way I think about reading. Like the Wizard of Oz tornado, Mendelsund's lucid, questing prose and his surprising, joyful visuals collide to create a similar weather system inside the reader. Not only are you carried off to Oz, but you're aware at every moment of the cyclonic action of your reader's mind and your reader's imagination. It's so smart, so totally original, so beautiful. This is the perfect gift for anyone who has ever blinked awake inside a book." Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

Review:

"This is not a book, this is a sacred text. It inspires, it expands the mind, it proves that Mendelsund is a total freaking genius." Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers

Review:

"Amazing....Sparkling with verbal as well as visual wit and the personable exhilaration of one of the best conversations you've ever had, What We See When We Read opens one's eyes to that special brand of blindness which makes the vividness of fiction possible. It reads as if the ghost of Italo Calvino audited Vladimir Nabokov's literature class and wrote his final paper with the help of Alvin Lustig and the Radiolab guys." Chris Ware, author of Building Stories

Review:

"In this brilliant amalgam of philosophy, psychology, literary theory and visual art, Knopf associate art director and cover designer Mendelsund inquires about the complex process of reading....The book exemplifies the idea that reading is not a linear process. Even if readers follow consecutive words, they incorporate into reading memories, distractions, predispositions, desires and expectations....In 19 brief, zesty chapters, the author considers such topics as the relationship of reading to time, skill, visual acuity, fantasy, synesthesia and belief....Mendelsund amply attains his goal to produce a quirky, fresh and altogether delightful meditation on the miraculous act of reading." Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Review:

"Offhandedly brilliant, witty, and fluent in the works of Tolstoy, Melville, Joyce, and Woolf, Mendelsund guides us through an intricate and enlivening analysis of why literature and reading are essential to our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the spinning world." Booklist

Review:

"Brilliant. Peter Mendelsund has peered into our messy heads and produced an illuminating, kaleidoscopic meditation on reading. Also on seeing. And understanding." Jim Gleick, bestselling author of The Information

Review:

"This examination of how words on a page become pictures in our brains is blowing my mind a little in the best possible way." BookRiot

About the Author

Peter Mendelsund is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf and a recovering classical pianist. His designs have been described by The Wall Street Journal as being “the most instantly recognizable and iconic book covers in contemporary fiction.” He lives in New York. 

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Ryan DeJonghe, July 30, 2014 (view all comments by Ryan DeJonghe)
As I round the corner to my 140th of the year, I can say WHAT WE SEE WHEN WE READ stands atop as the most brilliant I’ve read of all. Arranged both conceptually and visually in mouth-gaping magnificence, genius Peter Mendelsund captures the very essence--the shared bond--of our reading pleasure. The author is a master artist, both visually and now narratively. This is his magnum opus. This is why we read.


“When we read, we take in whole eyefuls of words. We gulp them like water.”


In a mix of narrative and art, Mendelsund stretches our imagination and believability: he says exactly what we think, without us perhaps realizing what we have thought. Absurd, maybe, but once you begin his book, you’ll find a close association to the truth he speaks. Every reader, every writer, every artist needs to read this book.


“As readers, we are both the conductor and orchestras, as well as the audience.”


As a reviewer of books, I have the onus to present the image and flavor of a book, but at the same time not to spoil the opportunity for you to co-create your experience as the author intended. As Mendelsund writes, “Among the great mysteries of life is this fact: the world presents itself to us and we take in the world. We don’t see the seams, the cracks, and the imperfections.” This quote is set atop a darkened map with white cracks outlined. You flip the page. The author writes, “We haven’t missed a thing.” This is sided with a picture of Anna Karenina, x-ed out from the parts unknown, with her beauty intact.


“Good books incite us to imagine��"to fill in an author’s suggestions.”


I can give no higher praise to this masterpiece. It is something you need to read and own. And for that, I thank Vintage Books and Penguin Random House for sending this book to me for review. It clarifies and presents my reading passion anew.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780804171632
Author:
Mendelsund, Peter
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Books & Reading
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Original
Publication Date:
20140831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
7.99 x 5.42 x 0.88 in 0.99 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Business » General
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Aesthetics
Reference » Books on Books
Reference » Reading

What We See When We Read (Vintage Original) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Vintage Books - English 9780804171632 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Wow....Mendelsund has changed the way I think about reading. Like the Wizard of Oz tornado, Mendelsund's lucid, questing prose and his surprising, joyful visuals collide to create a similar weather system inside the reader. Not only are you carried off to Oz, but you're aware at every moment of the cyclonic action of your reader's mind and your reader's imagination. It's so smart, so totally original, so beautiful. This is the perfect gift for anyone who has ever blinked awake inside a book."
"Review" by , "This is not a book, this is a sacred text. It inspires, it expands the mind, it proves that Mendelsund is a total freaking genius."
"Review" by , "Amazing....Sparkling with verbal as well as visual wit and the personable exhilaration of one of the best conversations you've ever had, What We See When We Read opens one's eyes to that special brand of blindness which makes the vividness of fiction possible. It reads as if the ghost of Italo Calvino audited Vladimir Nabokov's literature class and wrote his final paper with the help of Alvin Lustig and the Radiolab guys."
"Review" by , "In this brilliant amalgam of philosophy, psychology, literary theory and visual art, Knopf associate art director and cover designer Mendelsund inquires about the complex process of reading....The book exemplifies the idea that reading is not a linear process. Even if readers follow consecutive words, they incorporate into reading memories, distractions, predispositions, desires and expectations....In 19 brief, zesty chapters, the author considers such topics as the relationship of reading to time, skill, visual acuity, fantasy, synesthesia and belief....Mendelsund amply attains his goal to produce a quirky, fresh and altogether delightful meditation on the miraculous act of reading."
"Review" by , "Offhandedly brilliant, witty, and fluent in the works of Tolstoy, Melville, Joyce, and Woolf, Mendelsund guides us through an intricate and enlivening analysis of why literature and reading are essential to our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the spinning world."
"Review" by , "Brilliant. Peter Mendelsund has peered into our messy heads and produced an illuminating, kaleidoscopic meditation on reading. Also on seeing. And understanding."
"Review" by , "This examination of how words on a page become pictures in our brains is blowing my mind a little in the best possible way."
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