January 2, 2009

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Sometimes I am not terribly good at expressing myself, like right now.  I really want you to know about this fabulous book I put on my holiday wish list and got (!) from my brother, Chris, yet I can’t think of a description that does it justice, but I will try.

The Art of Looking Sideways is a collection of information about the world, ideas, people, our perceptions, creations, history, and much, much more.  What makes it special is the immensity and the sheer joy with which I am certain the creator, Alan Fletcher, experienced while putting it together.

There are seventy-two chapters with titles like “Noise,” “Problems,” “Dreaming,” “Handedness,” and “Pictograms.”  Rather than describe each in an academic fashion, Mr. Fletcher cleverly writes about the subjects, infusing humor and involving the reader in the process of learning by using a variety of fonts, excerpts from scholarly and not so scholarly texts, hand written excerpts, photographs, pictures, and quotations.  There is, too, as the title suggests, that sideways view, causing this reader to crane her neck or turn the book.

It is a magical and oftentimes funny look at our universe.  One that embraces it, shakes it silly, and then takes a photograph of it lying on the floor.  If, like me, you love experiencing other people’s genius, interesting facts, art, whimsy, and challenging your mind to appreciate a different view, pick this book up, but maybe use both hands because it is kind of heavy.