Visual Reading

This post was inspired by my response to The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a review of which will hopefully be up on Thursday.

When you read a book, is it like watching a movie in your head? Do you just get pulled into the story? Do you see the characters and the world? Do the fight scenes jump off the page to something very real in your imagination?

Are you a visual reader?

Most people I’ve met are. It sounds pretty great.

I’m not.

For that main reason, describing my reading experience is difficult. For the longest time, I had issues with “imagery,” especially analyzing it, because words don’t really paint pictures for me.

They sound nice, sure, and I adore lyrical writing (hello Neil Gaiman), but long descriptions of character appearance or setting are more likely to bore me than not. That isn’t to say I don’t find them important—I can see the value, and why many readers like knowing what a character/setting looks like. It’s characterization. It’s orientation in place. I can even get annoyed when there isn’t enough (especially of the latter).

But I would much rather have internal monologue or dialogue than a detailed description of a fight scene. I just get lost because I don’t–and definitely feel like I can’t–picture it. Where Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes does a great job discussing how she pictures characters, I find it hard to sympathize entirely, because I just… don’t.

So I don’t conjure images from words. Along the same lines, though, I generally don’t have an emotional reaction to still images. I’ve noticed lately that I’m much more likely to react emotionally (especially positively) to a television show or a movie than I am to a comic like The Complete Persepolis or even a photograph.

And I don’t know why.

Thanks for reading!
Are you a visual reader?
To what extent do you imagine what you read?
What are your more likely to notice?

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21 thoughts on “Visual Reading

  1. I’ve had this conversation with my CP at least a dozen times. She’s a very visual reader (possibly because she’s an artist) and I’m … not. I see things when I read, but not clearly. I mean, I like to be given an idea of what something or someone looks like, but I prefer a general idea, where my mind can fill in the blanks with something I’ve seen. I can’t create an image wholesale. I do better with, for instance, a few salient details about a room that I can place in a room I know IRL, rather than trying to assemble a detailed description of a room from scratch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked this discussion post. I’m not a visual reader but occasionally I stop to picture what a character or scene might look like. Though sometimes I find myself visualising most of book so I’m not really sure?? I think it just really depends on the book… πŸ™‚

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  3. This is an interesting post! I am a visual reader myself, but not only do I envision characters, see the scenes and I especially can visually see the conversations between characters. Its just an automatic thing to me, I don’t know why but that’s how it is for me personally.
    However, I don’t picture these things all the time, so I wouldn’t consider myself a completely visual reader. Very engaging and well written books tend to bring out the visual reader inside of me. Loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am a very visual reader. It’s not like watching a movie in my head, but rather that I’m there with the characters watching it unfold. I can almost hear and smell, too if the description is done correctly. As for the characters, I usually end up picturing actors or people I know that look similar to the description. Or I’ll ignore the description if the character’s attitude suggests he looks like my best friend, for instance.

    I can’t imagine not being able to enter the world of the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And vice versa, it’s hard for me to imagine what it /is/ like xD I’m much more likely to get lost in the language and appreciate the writing style and voice. The funny thing is that when I read Jane Austen, I start speaking in a terrible variation of a British accent. That’s about as close as I get, though.


  5. I’m half of a visual reader and half not. I picture worlds and areas the best, but when it comes to action, I generally read for a while before I realize that I’m not picturing what happens at all. If I want to play it out in my head, I need to read really slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why is that, do you think? Does movement make it harder to visualize?

      I find that my lack of visual reading makes fight scenes particularly difficult for me. I find they tend to build little character and only injury and outcome affect the plot, generally, so I get a bit bored.


      • I think it might be because I kind of take things and run with them. Like there’s supposed to be a window on the left that some guy smashes into, but it’s really HARD to me to picture a window on the left because I already see a house with a window on the right. So I have to invert the guy smashing because that’s easier than imagining a window after I’ve already NOT imagined a window. Also because of how I picture people- where they are, height, position.. It’s just hard for me to fit them together.

        Liked by 1 person

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