Sunday, March 20, 2022

Pencils You Should Know: A History of the Ultimate Writing Utensil in 75 Anecdotes by Caroline Weaver


Chronicle Books had a whole bunch of books go on sale and they were all about really weird and interesting things, and I like weird and interesting things, so I was there snapping up everything I could get my hands on. A book about pencils? Oh yes. Don't mind if I do. Never mind that I haven't written with a pencil since I was in school, and haven't done anything approaching collecting pencils since I was probably in grade school. YOLO.

This is exactly what it purports to be. A woman who is fanatical about her pencil collection writing about the history of pencils, and some of the standouts in her collection and others. It's honestly rather wholesome, to be honest, and I mean that totally not-sarcastically. I love seeing people get passionate about their niche interests, especially if it's not something I share or know a lot about. These are the sorts of people who edit Wikipedia into the incredibly cool knowledge collective that it is.

I liked the pictures and some of the pencils, like the Japanese pencil with the, uh, questionable French on it, and the fun 40s and 50s pastel and neon novelty pencils, were really cool. The artsy and historical ones went over my head, but they were nice I guess. Also I learned that the metal part at the top of the pencil is called a "ferrule," which I think I knew at some point and probably forgot.

The premise wore a little thin after a while but it's an interesting and unusual premise, so I did like it.

3 out of 5 stars

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