… And we’re back.

So I’ve decided to start up again for various reasons, not least of which being because I’ve been reading like crazy this year in Our Time Of COVID.

You can see I left off at the tippy-top of 2019, so I have a lot to catch up with. Plus, I want to add reviews for my current reads. So until I catch up, it’ll be a mix of books a read up to 2 years ago to books I’ve just finished.

One of the incentives to read has been my discovery of BookOutlet. Click on that link and you can get remainder books cheap, sometimes as much as 20% off their low prices. And if you do, I get some points to save on books.

So watch this space and I’ll start reviewing again soon.

-Ralph

Paper: Paging Through History

Mark Kurlansky – what’s not to love? Kurlansky, author of “Salt,” “Cod,” “The Basque History of the World” and “Birdseye,” does it again – this time on paper.

The history of paper and its impact on the world is given the Kurlansky treatment in “Paper: Paging Through History.” That is, it is a history of paper, and a history of civilization through the object of paper.

The story is well-told, starting in China, slowly moving west, with innovations along the way, including more sophisticated papermaking, printing and finally the intrusion of computers. Kurlansky makes a good case that technology doesn’t bring about change, but that change requires new technology. If the Chinese weren’t such bureaucrats, they wouldn’t have needed paper to keep records, etc.

This book proceeds chronologically, and ends by debunking the oft-held argument that computers will replace paper, but we know by now that is not the case. New technology rarely wipes out the old, it just offers a new path.

Kurlansky also manages to weave insights from his other legendary books (cited above) into his tale of paper – because everything is connected somehow, and he’s found the connections again. With Kurlansky’s next book, “Havana,” don’t be surprised if paper somehow plays a key role in it.