From Bronze Age India to a Surrey Stationers via pencil wars and accidental inventions: a hilarious insight into the familiar yet unexpectedly bizarre world of stationery.
James Ward's London-based blog, I Like Boring Things, has featured in the Independent, Observer and on the BBC website. He is co-founder of Stationery Club and the Boring Conference, featured in the Wall Street Journal and on Radio 4. This is his first book.
Few of us pause over the etymology of "foolscap" or that "symbol of equality and harmony", the HB pencil. James Ward does: "It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the history of stationery is the history of human civilisation." In Adventures in Stationery, he looks at the pioneers - Mr Biro, for example, and the forgotten genius who invented the perfect paper clip. He plots the rise of the Post-it note, ponders the mysteries of "shatterproof" rulers and notes, poignantly: "The sharpener literally gives the pencil its point in life, but kills it at the same time." Ward writes with a blend of wit, unhealthy obsession and pure love. Here is high-class pornography for the stationery enthusiast. -- Alexander Gilmour * FT * Step into a fantastical Narnia of office and personal materials. James Ward investigates the drama of the desk tidy . . . questions you never thought to ask when chewing your Bic are answered smartly in black ink on white paper in geeky detail -- Iain Finlayson * Times *