‘What We See When We Read’ by Peter Mendelsund
Peter Mendelsund’s What We See When We Read is an incredible book. In discussing ideas of what we as readers imagine to go along with whatever we’re reading, What We See is thoughtful, incisive, and challenging, in addition to being as beautiful as you’d expect a book from Knopf’s Associate Art Director to be.
And perhaps because it is so brimming with insights and beauty, it’s a hard to process all at once. The book is deceptively short and “easy” to read. With its big font size and sweeping visuals, you can breeze through the book, just straight reading without processing or thinking too much, in a few short hours.
However, such a reading would be a waste of what you have in front of you. A reader needn’t go more than ten pages into What We See to realize that this is a book that demands re-reading. There are so many ideas and epiphanies packed into this tidy volume that you simply have to go back and read them again. You have to pause frequently to mull over the latest intellectual and philosophical bombshell lobbed by Mendelsund. And you have to spend dedicated time appreciating the aesthetics of this profoundly visual book.
What We See is an incredible creation, equally a book about books, a philosophy text, and an art book. It’s quite the amalgamation and I highly recommend setting aside significant time to truly enjoy and ponder Mendelsund’s book. It demands (and deserves) your engagement with the ideas contained in the book.
There were about twelve different friends I thought of buying this book for, all very different people with very different perspectives, so I think I can safely recommend this to book to just about any reader. Take a dive in and be amazed.