Originally posted on 03 Apr 2024

1 minute read

This book came to me via interlibrary loan, and I regret I allowed myself to be distracted such that I wasn’t able to finish it before it came due. Still, I was able to finish the first section of the book and some of the second, which was probably enough for my purposes.

My expectation is that this would be a sort of pop science/history book, but it was more academic in nature. This made it interesting, but dense and more challenging to read. To be honest, I don’t think the academic tone did it any favours. The same information could’ve been conveyed in a more approachable manner.

That aside, the book is impeccably researched and features a number of colour plates demonstrating the subjects Holsinger addresses. The idea of writing on the skin of another creature is somewhat macabre now, but was one of the many ways our ancestors made the most of their resources. Holsinger doesn’t shy away from the messier side of the subject and tackles it head-on. This refreshing frankness is the only correct way to do justice to the truth of the history of writing.

So it was a good book, from an academic perspective, but I doubt I’d have finished it even if I’d allowed myself enough time to do so. The writing was too dry and dense for my tastes and needs.