With just two weeks to go before the end of the TBR Triple Dog Dare (See link to special page above) Bookshop Benicia,  my local independent bookstore, called to inform me that my copy of S had arrived.

S is the new book by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst.  The idea behind it is that two people used an old book, Ship of Theseus, as a means of communication by writing in the margins.  They’ve also stuck bits of paper, notes, maps drawn on napkins, photographs, into the pages of the book.  It all adds up to one big mystery that the reader is to figure out on their own.

My copy is sitting on the dining room table until April 1.

Must remain strong.

I’ve been running the TBR Dare for four years now. The basic idea is to spend the first three months of the year cleaning house by reading only books in you TBR stack as of midnight, Dec. 31.  Most people who join the TBR Dare, in fact all of the people who sent me comments about doing it, enjoy it quite a bit even if they don’t make it to the end.  No one gets any pressure from me anyway–you can do the DARE for a month or a week even as far as I’m concerned.  Just read one book and you can call your self a participant.  (We need a cute name for those who take the TBR Dare.  Like how those who love Veronica Mars are called Marshmallows.   TBR Darons maybe?  Triple Doggers?  I’ll have to work on this for next year.)

I did open my copy of S.  I couldn’t help it.  It comes shrink-wrapped.  I opened it and looked through all the stuff, careful not to read any of it and careful to put everything back just where I found it.  Some people say the location of the inserts may make a difference as far as figuring out the mystery goes.  It’s clearly going to be a very fun read.

Maybe it will encourage people to start writing marginalia again.  People used to write in the margins all the time, it was actually encouraged in school and can be a very useful study tool, but over the last ten or so years, readers have turned against marginalia.  This is a mistake.  Marginalia was a way to connect with readers of the future and the past both.  When your grandmother loaned you a book, it came with her notes.  You could read the book and read what your grandmother thought about the book.  You can even leave notes for your own grandchildren.  There have been plenty of times when I enjoyed the marginalia more than I did the book itself.  Rereading books I wrote in twenty years ago has been  a very revealing exercise.

There’s loads of marginalia in S and plenty of inserts.  They are not as wonderful as those in Nick Bantock’s  Griffin and Sabine series.  Not even close.  I have heard S compared to Griffin and Sabine, but the artwork and the books construction is not up to Bantock’s wonderful series.  The writing itself though, the mystery it contains….

Must remain a  mystery until April 1 when the TBR Triple Dog Dare comes to an end.

Fortunately for me, April 1 falls in the middle of spring break.  I now what I’ll be doing that day.

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12 thoughts on ““S” Arrived to Tempt Me This Week, But I Am Strong

  1. S sounds fascinating… another reason to look forward to spring break! I’m almost halfway through Middlemarch, so that should keep me occupied until the end of the Dare. It’s probably time to start thinking about my first post-dare title 😉

  2. I have read so much about this book. If I wasn’t on my permanent DARE challenge I know I would be buying this. I’ve read it compared to House of Leaves which I took as high praise indeed but it would need to be some book to live up to Griffin & Sabine – one of my all time favourites.

    1. I adored House of Leaves. From looking at “S,” just judging it from the text’s appearance alone, I’m going to say House of Leaves is the more experimental, more exciting book. I will keep House of Leaves in mind when I read “S” though, to see how the two compare.

  3. I’ve read a little about “S”, which does sound very tempting. An equally enticing but much older book arrived yesterday – so far, though, I am sticking to the dare! And I’ve even bought fewer books than in previous years. I do like knowing that one-day passes are available, if needed!

  4. One time at the Folger I ordered a copy of an 18th-century satire, and it had marginal notes written by Robert Southey. That was a thrill, I can tell you–not that he was a great writer–mostly I knew him from other writers making fun of him, particularly Byron, but it was wonderful to see that he was a real person. His notes were spot on, too.

    1. I’ve had similar experiences ordering books through inter-library loans. I once had a 120 year old copy of some obscure book filled with notes left by the books first reader. He took the argument of the book much more seriously than it deserved, even wrote a four page rebuttal on the blank pages at the end of the book. Honestly, I enjoyed his notes as much as I did the book.

  5. So far, so good on the TBR Dare, unless you count the comics binge I went on when I was sick with a tooth infection–and I;m choosing not to count that. I did get a library craving this week, so I went and checked out Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoirs, thinking at least these would be short diversions from the Dare. But they’re not even due until after April 1, so I think I can wait until then!

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