10 December 2014

Review: Adventures in Stationery - A Journey Through Your Pencil Case | James Ward

* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin

I love stationery, and I absolutely adored reading Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case by James Ward recently.

Ward's love of stationery is infectious, and I frequently lost myself researching his favourite shops, and discovering websites dedicated to various forms of stationery.

Every time I picked up this book, I had to have my tablet handy, just so I could look up images of the items described: the Blackwing 602 pencil, Pink Pearl eraser, different paper clip shapes and more. I enjoyed many trips down memory lane, remembering the kinds of glue I used in primary school (clag, PVA and remember these?) to the different types of white out used in high school (liquid paper bottle, the correction pen and who could forget the thinner!).

Adventures in Stationery is funny, entertaining and educational, and I loved reading about the invention of sticky notes, how Scotch tape got its name and even that 3M was originally known as the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing company. If you've never understood the meaning behind staple sizes then this is the book for you.

Here is just a small selection of my favourite discoveries in Adventures in Stationery:
Page 78 - the term foolscap, "used to describe a sheet of paper 13.5" x 17"... derives from the 'fool's cap' watermark...introduced in the middle of the fifteenth century."
Page 100 - "a ferrule is the metal sleeve holding the eraser in place." 
Page 115 - before there were erasers or rubbers, "the preferred method for removing pencil lines was to use stale bread." 
Page 213 - "When Blu-Tack was originally developed, it was white in colour, but the blue colouring was added after concerns were raised that children might think it was chewing gum and attempt to eat it."
Finally, Ward's mention of the use of skeuomorphic design by software designers to replicate an object's physical characteristics in another form (for instance, making the icon for the 'cut' function in MS Word look like a pair of scissors) blew my mind.

Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case by James Ward was an absolute joy to read and even the book itself is a treasure with an attractive hard back design featuring paper clips, drawing pins and pen lids. Perfect, right?

Highly recommended for stationery lovers everywhere!

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

RRP $24.99

P.S. Now tell me, do you have a secret stationery addiction? I'll confess I buy more stationery than I use, and keep 'saving' stuff because I don't want to use it. What's yours?