The Pencil

by HENRY PETROSKI | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9780679734154 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggorydetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/11/2024
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winggorydetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, June 11, 2024
I found this softcover in this Little Free Library in North Chelmsford MA, while dropping off some books of my own, and was glad of another release copy.

Petroski has a lovely knack of diving into the tiniest details of a single item - paperclips, toothpicks, etc. - and coming back with loads of fascinating information. The history of the humble pencil is a fine example, as this hefty tome deals with the earliest use of pointed bits of lead or graphite to a variety of hand-held scribing implements, and then to the pencil as we know it today. There are details of the construction of pencils - if you ever wondered how they got the lead into the pencils this is your book! - with many familiar names cropping up, from the Dixon whose Dixon Ticonderoga pencils were the gold standard when I was in school to Thoreau, who not only relied on pencils for his writing but whose family had a nice pencil business. (I loved the image of Henry David being able to pick up an even dozen pencils at a single grab without having to count them, a nice little party trick resulting from packing pencils.)

Ecological concerns - from pencils painted with lead paint, a hazard for those who like to chew them, to the harvesting of cedar trees for use in pencil-manufacturing. There are some philosophical notes as well, on the difference between the pencil - easily used but easily erased - vs. the pen or paintbrush. And there are some bits on mechanical pencils, though the author clearly is more interested in the wooden variety.

The appendices include a description of the author's pencil collection, fun in its own right. And I learned some new vocabulary words from the book, including "plumbago" and "wadd", terms for graphite - and handy words for games of Scrabble or Boggle...

Journal Entry 2 by winggorydetailswing at LFL -, Sunrise Ave in Leominster, Massachusetts USA on Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (6/12/2024 UTC) at LFL -, Sunrise Ave in Leominster, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

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** 2024 Allergic to A challenge **

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