In praise of picture books

No, I don't mean the pictures, I mean the text.  Picture books are one of the best ways to learn basic information about a topic.  First, by viewing the photos you are more likely to remember some aspects of the material.  It works for kids and maybe it works for you too.  Second, the text is stripped down to essentials.  Third, the authors of picture books are often relatively "agenda-less," since most people don't read the text, the selling point is the pictures, and the book is so expensive that the publisher doesn't want to rule out the broadest possible audience.

I would not use picture books to resolve disputes over details or to find the best conceptual framework.  The text in picture books has some of the same strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia pages.  It's odd to see a similar blandness in both the lowest cost and highest cost corners of the publishing world.

Lately I have been "reading" Ottoman Architecture, by Dogan Kuban, Toyokuni (oddly I can't find it on Amazon or remember the author's name), Textiles: Collection of the Museum of International Folk Art, by Bobbie Sumberg, and Architectura, by Miles Lewis.  You can walk into any public library and take home more splendid picture books than you will have time for.  How many you can carry is another constraint. 

Comments

And then there are these kinds of picture books. Very effectively educational.

Dr. Seuss is even better.

This is one thing that cell biology textbooks do well. Unfortunately, the topic still bores me.

I am a sucker for any picture book about Railroads or any archaic transportation or farm equipment.

Speaking of picture books, one picture book I always wanted to see was City of Darkness. Its about the zone of housing anarchy(the only uncontrolled, unregulated land in Hong Kong) and its development as a high-rise slum.

Its a shame its going price is about 150 for used off of amazon.

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