Portable Magic

Emma Smith. Penguin. (344p) ISBN: 9780141991931

Portable Magic
Portable Magic
Another book I’ve had sitting on the shelf for a while and picked up asa commute read now that I’ve two hours on a bus each day. It’s doing wonders for my reading rate!

This is another book I picked up as I’m fascinated by the book world and examining the book as an object of social history and the people and themes that abound in that social history sounded exciting.

It really is! The book travels through time from the beginnings of a compiled codex form and looks at the uses and forms that a book has taken since it’s first inception including a look at pre-book objects such as scrolls.

Each chapter looks at a different facet of the social history of the book and links into the next chapter seamlessly allowing a feel of progression throughout history.

Touching on areas such as book burning and banning, religion and how essential the book was to establishing some of the dominant world religions, the use of books for American troops in WWII as a means of propaganda, even getting down to looking at the question of ‘What is a Book?’

Near the end we also look at how books (especially the bible was used as a tool of colonisation and repression of Indigenous American culture and language, and this was a biting yet fascinating chapter of history that I knew nothing about and will be looking onto further.

This is a great yet oh too short exploration of form and function of one of my favourite objects and is well worth a read, creepily though as I read the book the closer I got to the end the more the glue started to give way and I now have a collection of pages in a cover rather than a bound book!

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