A few weeks ago I was looking books up on Goodreads to see if I wanted to add them to my reading list. Usually when I do this I read the first paragraph or two that comes up with the summary and I use that to base whether or not I want to read the book. This is the description that came up for S by J.J. Abrams.
After reading that I was thinking, yeah sounds great. I requested it from the library and picked it up a few weeks later. I was very confused when I received the book.
I said to the librarian, “I don’t think I requested this.” But then I looked at the label on the side and it said FIC Abrams. Flipping through the book I realized that this was not at all what I had been expecting and that I was going to have to do some research about the book. This is one of the pages in the book.
With the help of this blog post and this beginner’s guide, I was finally able to put together a plan for how I was going to read this book. The book is really not so much about the actual text of book. There is a question of who the author, V.M. Straka, really is. This is one of his last books published before his suspicious death. The notes in the margins are from two different people: Eric, a grad student,who is researching for a book on his theory of the true identity of the author, and Jen, an undergrad who happened to find the book. The notes in the margins are the two of them corresponding together at different times throughout the year.
First, I read the whole book by reading only the original story, footnotes, and the pencil notes (Eric) in the margins. Then I went back a second time and read the blue (Jen) and black (Eric) notes in the margins. I went back a third time to read the green (Eric) and orange (Jen) notes. The fourth read focused on the red (Eric) and purple (Jen) notes. The final read through was the quickest, focusing on the set of notes both written in black.
Along with all the in-book notes, there are several inserts throughout the book.
These inserts go with certain pages in the book and you have to figure out when you want to read them. Sometimes they are referenced and sometimes they are not.
And now for my thoughts
Phew, this book was very unexpected. If I had not researched what order to read things in I would have been totally lost. However, it was very enjoyable because I have never read anything like this before. There are times when the reading was confusing because even though I read the note colors in chronological order, the notes themselves were not written in chronological order from the beginning of the book to the end. So there are times where I was confused and felt like I was missing something only to have the missing piece filled in later.
The original text was the hardest to get through. The base story in itself is not why you read this book, it is made much better by the notes in the margins. This book took me a very long time to read but it was a very enjoyable experience for me. I hope more people will try this book. It makes me want to exchange margin messages in a book with someone.
–some language throughout–