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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
The Art of Looking Sideways
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on October 9, 2014
amazing book
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!!!
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on October 9, 2001
I can't recommend it enough. I don't know much about this Fletcher fellow but I'm beginning to feel quite a lot of appreciation for him. Contains a plethora of food for thought and recipes for opening your mind (images, quotes, anecdotes, poems, drawings, puzzles, etc.) Everyone should plow through this book and learn a thing or two about the importance of being able to change perspective on things-at will. The world would be a better place. P.S. It's lots of fun, you'll laugh and cry and vice versa.
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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!
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