What We See When We Read

By Peter Mendelsund

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? 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 — into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.