Sunday Salon: Mind’s eye

Alas, almost one month of Sundays of me not reading. Though, I will be back on the horse next week. No updates really. I still have been reading Count of Monte Cristo for six weeks in email installments, and I have not touched Othello for two weeks. I know it ruins the purpose of a Sunday Salon wherein I don’t actually read, but I do like blogging and the wonderful visitors I get through the Salon.

Since the discussion last week worked so well, I encountered another topic I would like to pose the Salonists. Recently, I stumbled upon message board postings about visualization. To my surprise some people don’t visualize books or at least not the degree that others do. I think for the most part people do, but this got to me thinking about how each of us visualize the words we read. If the author is not very descriptive, do you fill in the blanks about the characters’ physical looks, locations, etc.? Even if the writer describes something, does your image of the location change? To what degree? Do film or tv adaptations change the way you read books if you’ve seen the movie/know who has been casted? This of course can lead into questions about adaptations and the visuals from your mind: are they usually more or less the same or drastically different than you would have thought/if you made the adaptation?

For my part, I visualize and do feel in blanks. When reading books that have not been adapted or I have not idea of their adaptations, the characters end up looking like no one I know. I rarely put actors in this movie either so many of my characters end up “generic” looking unless they are described as extraordinarily attractive. It does end up like a movie in my head much like the way I dream. I fill the landscape better than I do clothing or style. The fact that I do watch so many films and remember my dreams contribute to easy and vivid visualization of books.

On another topic of books, my friend L and I decided to have a mini book club this summer between the two of us. She is one of the few friends of mine that is an avid reader. As a Classics and Latin student, she’s more advanced than me in classic and ancient works, but I’ve read more contemporary works than she has. Though, we both share similar authors and tastes. In any case, we wanted to read and discuss some books neither of us had read/finished. Yes, as if I don’t have enough books to read with all the challenges going on. Though, most of these books can be cross posted, in one of my challenges, and one of the reasons we selected some of them is because we own most of them. There is no way we are going to go through the list, but I am posting it here for fun.

  • Don Quixote by Cervantes
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report and other stories
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  • Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Thomas Mann: Death in Venice, The Magic Mountain, other stuff
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  • The Kretuzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Literary Links:

How to Dry a Wet Book

Guys Read – This relates to my post about finding a mate who reads, but this is a site that encourages and support guys reading by giving them suggestions. It’s good if you have little boys who aren’t too keen on reading either.

6 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Mind’s eye

  • Wendy

    I definitely visualize when I read…usually I have a very good picture in my mind of what the characters look like. This is why I could never watch the TV show Bones which is based on Kathy Reich’s books – the actress who plays the main character looks NOTHING like what I envision her looking like!

  • beastmomma

    I visualize when I read as well. I think it helps with making the story seem more real. Also, that is quite an ambigious list! I read Guns, Germs, and Steel and well as the D.H. Lawrence book; both were good, but tough to finish!

  • Imani

    Like the others, I do too, and even wish that I could see how some scenes could look like on film or in a painting. I’m reading Villette right now and there’s a scene where Lucy Snowe is waiting at a door at night in a foreign country, staring down at the pavement, refusing to think on her circumstances — I thought it would make a fantastic painting (maybe by John Grimshaw).

  • Christine

    I have never been sure how much I visualize when I read. It always seems to me when I stop reading, or when I stop and think about it, that I have not visualized anything at all. But I am conscious of some visualization; I think it’s just a very vague sort. I’m not a huge visual thinker to begin with, though, and that probably makes a difference.

  • Julie

    Interesting question! Now that I think about it, I realize that I do visualize quite a bit when I read. I am usually disappointed with movie versions because the characters “don’t look right.” And occasionally I’m pleased when they do! The most recent movie version of Little Women knocked my socks off because the March’s house looked *exactly* the way I’ve always imagined it. I didn’t like anything else about that movie, but I loved that house.

  • Lacer

    An interesting question. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to my last completed read, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G.W. Dahlquist, which I did not get on with at all and a classic sign for me for a book I don’t like is when I’m reading it and I realise that all I’m seeing are the words on the page, whereas if I’m reading a book I like (currently reading Time Traveller’s Wife, which I love) I’m definitely visualising it! I think the problem with The Glass Books was that it was too over-described for me, the author was throwing in so much detail I was having a hard time trying to picture it exactly how the author wanted me to.

    I’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing recently and I agree with what he says about writing description, in that you need to let the reader do some of the work and I definitely prefer books that do that!


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