André Kertész’s On Reading
W.W. Norton, 2008

If you were the reader who put me onto this lovely little book, please raise your hand in the ether.

It’s wonderful. The sort of wonderful that makes me wonder how I could have NOT know about such a gem.

You know the feeling? I just can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of, or, at least, hadn’t registered the photography of André Kertész, this volume in particular, which gathers together photos from 1915-1970, celebrating people who are reading.

Well, you probably guessed that part, even if you, too, are new to this work, from the title. But you might not have guessed all the means by which people are caught on film engaging in this activity.

Sometimes his subjects are head-on, other times viewed from a distance, a distance above. Sometimes their entire bodies are captured, other times only a portion.

Sometimes through a window as well as through the camera lens. And sometimes through another work of art that appears in the frame.

One of my favourites is that which captures only part of a female figure on a fire escape. I like to imagine it’s a girl. A girl like Francie Nolan. In Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Which is one of the other reasons that I love this collection; it not only makes me hungry for a gallery-romp, it also makes me want to read. A perfectly bookish book.

Has another sort of art made you want to pick up a book lately?