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.