The library is cool and smells like carpet cleaner, although all I can see is marble. I have gotten past the dark, foreboding entrance. My boot heels rap the wooden floor…”
So starts the best-selling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), by American author Audrey Niffenegger. Her words transport the readers to the very library she speaks of, and makes them feel like an integral part of the narrative right from the beginning.
As an architect, naturally, visualising the world inside the books is an integral part of my reading experience. Graphic descriptions of the physical environment is the very definition of joy.
Though I’ve always been keen on reading details of space and architecture, the ‘seeing’ aspect became more essential once I started studying architecture and understood the morals of why we build what we build. It was only natural that I started paying special attention to the surroundings of the fantasy worlds as well.
As readers, we depend completely on the writer’s choice of transcribed imageries to build our own version of the physical contexts of an imaginary world. But we just take the outlines set down by the author, and fill in the details through our creativity. We draw mental maps, and slowly construct the houses, the roads, and entire cities for ourselves.