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April 3, 1972

On Reading

JAMA. 1972;220(1):120-121. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010104020

Superbly appropriate to our Annual Book Number is a small volume recently published, entitled simply On Reading.1 The book consists entirely of photographs—some of which are reproduced on the facing page—with not one word of text, not even a preface. The pictures speak for themselves.

Over a period of many years a gifted photographer, André Kertész, has taken pictures of people reading: men, women, children, reading different things—books, magazines, newspapers, documents. The locations vary from slums to penthouse, from bucolic setting to scholarly study. Quite unconscious of the photographer, the subjects read while sitting, standing, walking, riding; they read at home, in the office, in the streetcar, on the street, in the park, the restaurant, the theater, the university, and, of course, the bookstore. Kertész has captured them all: in many different countries readers rich and poor, young and old, white and black, occidental and oriental, exhibiting extremes of