on December 21, 2003
I came across this book in the local bookstore, randomly finding it while buying a gift certificate for christmas. If you're into artistic expression in any way, buy this book. It's full of delightfully random illustrations, quotes, and wisdom. If you're not the artistic type, I'd suspect you'll find this book a bit tedious or perhaps even pointless. If, however, you are a creatively minded person who enjoys some visual delights (some of the pictures are just amazing to experience) and some mental stimulation, go for it! This would make a great book to pick up and open to anywhere, then see what you find. I've paged through a lot of it, looking at things. I'm now attempting to start from the beginning and read through it. This book is incredible. Worth owning without a doubt.
on October 16, 2003
I found out about this book of all places while channel surfing one gloomy day. A TV show was doing a profile on the author, his creative process and his book. I was hooked. They showed some of its pages and I special ordered it the next day. That was 2 years ago and every time I've picked it up since, it never fails to awe and inspire. I love so many things about it: its simple yet highly styled layout, the hand drawn graphics, the author's graphical experiments, the quotations (there must be at least a thousand) and the combination of humour and thoughtfulness that permiates the pages. To describe it, I would say it's like a box you kept all your old concert stubs, matchbooks and photographs, keepsakes and anecdotes but that have been organized and displayed and "made sense of". And this is exactly what the author did in compliling this book.
You can read it in the traditional front-to-back way, but my favourite way to approach the book is to just open it at random and start reading - then I usually end up flipping around because parts of the text refer to other parts of text in another section - like little hyperlinks that zoom you to some other connected place. The discovery is seemingly never-ending.
So, to you I would say: Treat your brain. Pick up this book and learn what it means to look sideways!
on May 6, 2003
I had never heard of this book before I saw it and no introduction is better than just getting the huge, heavy thing on your lap and looking through it. As most reviewers of this book have said, it cannot be described, but they have tried. I too can only give you an idea about this book and giving ideas is what this book is about.
One day my friend Martine said that I must see this book and dropped it into my lap, I have not yet give it back. I sat there in my comfy chair and leafed through the many, many pages reading a little here, looking a little there. After a while I realised that this book was an amazing source of information and inspiration and so I started reading from the beginning, taking notes along the way.
Todd Dominey, a new media designer, wrote, "As a designer, I felt more inspired, more aware, more energized after just a handful of pages than I can remember feeling in years of buying design and art related books." As indicated by its title, this book is meant to open your mind, to get you seeing the things you never noticed before, to give you a fresh perspective and a new way of understanding.
On the first real page of the book a quote by Montaigne reads "I quote others only the better to express myself." This book has over a thousand quotes from writers, philosophers, artists and anyone who has ever said anything thoughtful. A quote starts each of the books 72 chapters, each having a loose theme such as 'Imagination', 'Noise', 'Wit' or 'Colour'.
But this is so much more than a book of smart remarks, it is a scrapbook of a lifetime of visual awareness. Decades must have whittled by as Fletcher was collecting all these fantastic stories, jotting down memories, cutting up newspapers, photocopying books, sketching fleeting visions and remembering good jokes.
Every double spread of the book is counted as one page, and each of these 532 'pages' are thoughtfully designed by Fletcher. Every anecdote, poem and thought is uniquely arranged with the typography, colour and layout carefully balancing the illustrations, doodles and photographs of which there are around 700. It is truly mindbending how much care and effort must have gone into this book, and it is this effort which makes it such a joy to read.
Through reading "Sideways" you also get to know a little about Alan Fletcher, to understand what kind of man it takes to complete such a generous and insightful offering of information. His brain must have been mightily relieved once it had poured out all this knowledge, and not a drop has been spilt. It is now up to us to absorb as much as we can, to learn from it and enjoy it. Those with even the smallest interest in the visual or the verbal will find it impossible to not appreciate and wonder at this book. Be careful carrying it home though.
on May 9, 2002
This book will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. Superficially it appears to be the Seinfeld of the literary world, that is a book about nothing. The book appears to be a random collection of quotes and anecdotes on seemingly unrelated topics.
I like this book because it covers such a diverse range of topics in an interesting manner. You can open up virtually any page in the book and find something amusing, thought provoking or plain bizarre. As an example did you realise that in actuality the world is a very dull place? There is no such thing as colour or sound. These are simply waves with different wavelengths and frequencies. The sensation of light and sound is simply the brain parsing information in a specific way, probably because this model was conducive to survival in primitive times.
I must admit a lot of the pages in the book were quite beyond me. I didn't understand why they were there at all and in fact I feel that some of the material should be omitted from the book because it has little value. It also became annoying at times because you have to flip the book sideways and upside down due to its unusual layout (no easy feat with such a hefty tome!).
However all in all this book is an excellent read. One of the best books I've read in awhile. Highly recommended if you are interested in exploring the unusual and thinking outside the square.
on May 9, 2002
It is probably easier to write nebulously about this volume than in very direct and objectively descriptive terms. It's the kind of book that could be said to bring out the poet in you. Maybe because of this, I had a hard time getting a handle on what it was, exactly, before I got a copy. I'd love to try and demystify this wonderful book just a bit.
If you have seen the book "Everything Reverberates" from a few years ago, you have an idea of what this one is like. That book took mostly brief quotes about design and art, and synthesized them into layouts that made the quote a small work of typographic art. Visual puns and kidding visual references to past and present cultures abounded. It was a nice little book to have around and pick up for inspiration or entertainment at the odd down moment.
The art of looking sideways takes the earlier book as a starting point and multiplies the sheer volume of content possibly 40 times over. The layout is elegant. There is lots of visual play (pictures, pictograms, sketches, illusions, calligraphy, etc.) and while there may not be quite as much "making quotes into small works of typographic art", it is still clearly a book given shape by a masterful graphic designer. Whereas the earlier book, because of it's physical dimensions, concentrated on brief quotes, the art of looking sideways is a bit more expansive, including long excerpts from books and articles that have impressed Alan Fletcher, along with pithy quotes (there are plenty of those).
So in one sense, this is a book of quotes, and one of the greatest at that. (On the first page proper of the book, Montaigne says, opening the door for the author, "I quote others only the better to express myself.") But it is more than a book of quotes too. All in all, it is a book worth having around in a prominent place in your home or office, ready to flip open, like a great library dictionary, at any time.
on January 27, 2002
The Art of Looking Sideways is an instruction manual of sorts for adults to deconstruct their preconceived belief systems of reality. Readers are encouraged to look, see, explore, turn upside down, rip apart, and to ultimately rebuild that which everyday people believe to be true through a series of word plays, found quotations, paradoxes, and unusual truths. There are no answers. Just questions, and differences of perception.
The book challenges, enlightens, entertains, and ultimately inspires. It's absolutely not a book of gee-whiz optical illusions, a la psychedelic "Mind's Eye" pointillism or perception bending Escher, but rather a playful, witty scrapbook of collected thoughts, newsprint clippings, poetry, photographs, illustrations, and assorted junk found on globe trotting vacations by the book's compiler.
The design of the book itself is a work of art. No two pages are the same. Each idea, or question, is presented with it's own lyrical typeface and placement to further convey the essence of the topic at hand. At my count, there are well over 1,000 different original works of typography and layout -- a stunning feat in and of itself.
"Sideways" is quite simply a fringe experience that is impossible to label, describe, or place in a particular section of a bookstore. As a designer, I felt more inspired, more aware, more energized after just a handful of pages than I can remember feeling in years of buying design and art related books.
It's big, heavy, and worth its weight in gold. A classic.
on May 3, 2002
Not quite. But a 1000+ page brain dump from a graphic designer.
Browsing through the bookstore in NYC's Grand Central Station the other day, this book caught my eye. Every page I looked at had something of interest.
Broken into about 70 sections, the book covers a myriad of topics, some related to graphics, some to art, some to life, some to other things. This book is impossible to classify, except to say that there's something engaging on every page and each page leaves you with a slightly different outlook. This can be a great tool to jumpstart creativity, change perspective, alter rigid in-the-box thinking.
I'm not an artist or graphic designer, and don't know who Fletcher is (aside from the information in the book). However, he seems to have been around the corner a few times, and this is a what he found there.
on January 4, 2002
When I received this book I looked at the cover and opened it and thought to myself: "What the hell is this?". It appears to have no point - just a collection of random images and text. But when I sat down to take a closer look I realised what an amazing book it is. It's a kind of brain dump of the author - at least a dump of the parts related to art, design and text. It's like a randomised encyclopaedia with pictures. Just dip in anywhere and look and read - it's bound to be interesting. Fascinating thoughts about art and perception, text and writing. I've never owned a book like this before but something makes me think this book will be with me for a long time to come.
on June 18, 2002
Look, I'll make this short, if you have anything to do with visual creativity get this book!
In 532 pages Alan Fletcher presents a cornucopia of visual and semantic ideas, beautifully designed and printed. Expect the unexpected on every 'page'. The publishers describe this as a 1064 page book but the author, uniquely, makes each spread a page and it is numbered accordingly.
Perhaps page forty-two will give you an idea of what to expect, it shows a sculpture made from 848 knives, forks and spoons, created by Japanese artist Shigeo Fukuda but when a spotlight shines on it the shadow it creates is clearly a motorbike.
A glorious book for a word in your eye!
on September 19, 2003
This book found me one day and now has me totally in it's pages.
Every little thing that was ever said and every problem ever created has some form of simplistic answer within it.
What is Left, Right, Up or Down, Sideways Backwards, Full or Empty has some form answer and deffernce to it. But then again what is It?
All those funny sayings that pass our lips everyday are included and a full on assult on your brain senses really makes the old grey matter think. It is a book to be picked up and put down as you simply cannot read it through without causing your brain to pass out!!!