Tuesday, January 28, 2014

With Design This Good I Almost Don't Care About a Story: S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S.S. by J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst

I can't rate this book yet because I just got it home from the library and took a good look at it.

That "good look" took me 15 delighted minutes.

Why so long? Because this "1949" book, perfectly designed in the style of the time, has a correspondence going on in the sides of the pages, between two biblophiles who discuss the author and learn about each other by leaving notes in the library book.

Flipping carefully through to see a few of the postcards, newspaper articles, and photographs left in the pages of the book (as part of the reading experience, of course) made me even more excited.

Based on reviews, people either love the story or find it disappointing. All give full credit for the amazing book design. Obviously, I am so hoping I'm one of the people who loves the story because the layout and design are enough to make me give it 5 stars without reading more than the title page and two pages of the introduction.

It is so authentic looking that when I showed it to one of my favorite librarians (yes, I have favorite librarians. It happens when you visit your library at least once a week for years), she opened it, saw the library stamp and the "Book for Loan" stamp and said, "When was this written?" She looked it up on her database before believing it was new.

Now, if there is one thing I know about J.J. Abrams it is that he can be more style than substance. (Yes, Lost, I gave you three seasons of my life before quitting.)

If there is a second thing I know, it is that he can tell a helluva good story sometimes (Alias, Person of Interest, Almost Human, the Star Trek reboot). All while maintaining that nice, shiny style that is so alluring.

This book is going to take a while to read, as most reviewers have remarked. But I am already intrigued enough to make this a "slow read" commitment and work my way through it.

One thing is definite. This is a love letter to books, turning pages, writing notes, and tucking reminders between the leaves. You couldn't do this with a Kindle, folks. All the postcards would fall out every time you turned it on!

Here's a video that shows the inside of the book.


  1. I bought S. as a Christmas gift for my son but then changed my mind and gave him something else. Your post just reminded me that I still have the book. Sweet!

  2. Looking forward to getting this eventually when the enormous library holds list is not so enormous :)