I was scrolling through some old photos on my phone the other day and came across this shot from one year ago—the 37 books I had left to read for The List as of April 2015:
The image was pretty jarring, inasmuch as my list has since dwindled down to just 11:
(And yes, the page count of In Search of Lost Time is obviously an inside joke. With myself. In a spreadsheet. Of classic literature. Sigh.)
Anyway, it all got me thinking about the power of images. It’s a topic I spend little time contemplating, seeing as I’m usually preoccupied with the power of words. But visual representations of information—as every professional nerd knows—can often lead to newer and more exciting, or more compelling, or more heartrending, interpretations.
Consider that an equal number of people live in the blue and red areas of this world map (created by Max Roser of “Our World in Data”). Consider the emotion a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, or an old Polaroid in a family photo album, can carry across time and space. Consider how often we choose our next read based on incredible book covers like these. Consider the profundity of my sorrow and regret upon realizing, halfway through Modern Romance on audiobook, that I was missing out on all of Aziz Ansari’s thought-provoking graphs and charts.
With this in mind, here are all of the coolest classics-related visuals I could find in a half-hour Google hunt (must-views are starred*):
- This gorgeous timeline of literary periods and movements*
- This classy Charles Dickens timeline
- This odd (but quite pretty) timeline of 19th and 20th century classics
- This mind-blowing timeline of would-be historical/future events as foretold in speculative fiction*
- This colorful author map of the USA
- This (just as colorful) author map of the UK
- This visual of the classics laid out on a London Tube map, organized by storyline
- This literary map of New York City
- This interactive world map of popular classics*
Comics and Infographics
- This insanely cool series of graphs and infographics on “Death in The Iliad“*
- This. Just this.
- This how-to on reading classic literature
- This fantastic infographic of literary festivals around the world
- This hilarious taunt of book snobs*
- This infographic on reading through the “ages”
- This dissection of love and romance in classic novels*
- This Periodic Table of world literature organized by genre
- This word search of classic literature for the irrevocably bored
- This badass listicle of tattoos inspired by books
- This adorable series of classics adapted and illustrated for children*
See what I mean? See? A fresh perspective on age-old information can be as powerful as it is entertaining.
Now, go forth and spread sheet!
Oh, and happy reading!