A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words?

Simon from Stuck in a Book is challenging people to sum up their reading tastes in a single photo. Initially I resisted taking up the challenge, as I didn’t see how I could possibly summarise my eclectic taste in a single image. I was impressed by the way Lizzie and Annabel got around this problem by posting pictures of Liquorice Allsorts and ‘Everything but the Kitchen Sink’, but although I enjoy books from numerous genres I have a much more specific taste than that.

I need an emotional connection to the characters. I wanted a picture that showed a mixture of emotions, so I started off by searching for images using the phrase ‘crying with happiness’. Unfortunately I failed to find anything suitable. I almost posted this picture of a little boy crying, but although I do enjoy harrowing books that didn’t sum up my entire range.

I finally settled on this image:

Photo by DaBok, Flickr

I think it captures the emotional connection that I want from the books I read. I want to feel as though I know them; to form a bond with the people I read about and feel their joy and their pain.

Do you think this photo is a good reflection of my reading taste?

Which picture would you choose?

34 replies on “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words?”

I must go and check this out – it’s a wonderful idea, and of course, most of the time (for me, anyway) what initially draws us to a book is the cover, so we already have a feel for a certain kind of image.

Yes, I am surprised at your choice, I guess, but maybe because I was thiking about the content you would choose, whereas you have chosen something that perfectly captures the emotional relationship you look for between you and the book, regardless of its content.

The photo I’d use without question is this one by Sarah E Melville, who does the cover art for my books – in fact, this photo is the reason she does my cover art – it captures everything I look for in a book – the high contrast of colour and flat background, a sense of displacement, of objects seen outside their usual context, a sense of loneliness and longing yet also of connection:

Dan, I tried to think about a picture that would capture the content of the books I read, but it isn’t really possible. I don’t really care where/when the book is set – I just want to become immersed in the fictional world. In fact I don’t really enjoy reading several books set in the same place together – I like a bit of variety!

vivienne, It was hard – it took me a few weeks to decide! Perhaps you’ll come up with some inspiration if you think about it for a while.

Verity, I love characters so much! You’d have thought I could cope with character led novels, but I do need a good plot too. I’m just very fussy 🙂

I can’t find an actual photo of it and I really regret now not using a version of it for my book’s front cover, but the following would sum up probably both me and my book:

Red nail varnished fingers curled around a cocktail with parasol and olive, while a knuckleduster sits atop the knuckles with the title of the book in raised letters.

For a version of me, remove the nail varnish and the cocktail and replace with a keyboard!

Great idea, bet you get loads of responses.

Hugs (without knuckledusters) Marc xx

marc, Yours is very specific, but so revealing. I’m afraid I haven’t read any books that fit your cocktail/knuckleduster/keyboard combo recently. 🙂

I think everyone should display a photo of their book preferences on their blog – the instant impression has been spot on for the majority of photos on Simon’s list.

I think mine would be a full toy box, that sounds mad but I can only settle down to reading when my son is having a nap or is asleep for the night. Basically when all his things are put back in the toy box and I can just relax.

Lovely choice for yours!

Jessica, LOL! I know exactly what you mean. I love it when the boys have just gone to sleep and I can finally relax. You’re tidier than me – I don’t normally ensure the toy box is full before I get the book out 🙂

Hi Jackie – you know what this is a great picture. I saw it and it immediately reminded me of your book group choice in Flowers for Algernon and the way it made me feel. Glad you chose a cheerful emotive picture 🙂

Novel Insights, I’m pleased I chose a positive photo too. I do like books to have a positive ending, but they do need to have that sad photo inside somewhere. I like the emotional rollercoaster – perhaps I should have chosen a photo of a rollercoaster?! Too late now…

I’ve enjoyed seeing these posts … I think it is so hard to capture a reading experience in a photo but I’ve been impressed with all the ones I’ve seen. I love your choice. I think I’m going to have to do this for my post tomorrow.

Lovely photo and I can see how it conjures up the emotions you seek to describe.

My first visit here via a Guy’s Moleskine Notebook. Won’t be my last, though!

Stop by my site and enter to win a copy of “This One is Mine” by Maria Semple!


This is just way fun. I love your picture…I can look at it and know exactly what you want and how you feel when you read a five star book. I loved Jenners’ picture too!

Dot, I don’t have to like all the characters in a book, but I do need to know where they are coming from, why they behave as they do. It is good to know that you feel the same way.

I think this is the perfect choice for you, Jackie! Deep and rich emotional connections are important to me in fiction too and I find that a lot of favourite books are family sagas that draw me in and make me feel.

At first the red wine comparison only extended to my favourite types of books but the more I thought about it the more I realised that it summed up my reading experience in the variety of wines there are available and how I turn to a book -as I often do to a glass of wine- for comfort 🙂

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