Striking photos of people reading

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a Steve McCurry book of photographs of people reading…..

When I was eight-years-old I used to sit at the breakfast table and read the back of the Corn Flakes box. My mother wouldn’t let me bring books to the table but I needed to read and my father always had control of the newspaper. The cereal box was the best I could do.

The act of reading — captivating, engrossing, mysterious — is something that gives me a great deal of pleasure to this day. My husband feels the same way and we both read more or less constantly. Recently, Eric pointed me to the BBC Culture website and a series of remarkable photographs of people reading. In places such as Thailand (above), Rome, Mumbai and Kuwait, you can see people reading in all sort of unusual circumstances. They are in cars, or on them, next to sculptures, in car junkyards, in abandoned classrooms.

The photos from the book On Reading by Steve McCurry and are culled from four decades of his travel around the world. In their story on the book, the BBC website cites the 1920 essay “On Reading Books,” by Swiss writer Hermann Hesse. “At the hour when our imagination and our ability to associate are at their height,” Hesse wrote, “we really no longer read what is printed on the paper but swim in a stream of impulses and inspirations that reach us from what we are reading.”

Take two minutes to explore these remarkable images now.