The Social Life of Ink, Ted Bishop

social life of ink

When I was in my third year of university, I was climbing the stairs to the third floor of the humanities building on my way to a seminar class. It was one of those days where I had a bit of extra time to spare as I power-walked from my previous class to make it to this one on time, but only enough to catch the poster on the door advertising that year’s Broadus lecture. That year, Ted Bishop was presenting his research on ink and I was a bit heartbroken that I couldn’t attend. After waiting with varying amounts of patience, you can imagine my excitement to finally tear into this darling book.

I collect pens and stationery like a kid in the early 2000s collected Pokemon cards, almost obsessively. I was pleasantly surprised by this book’s tone, while I’m sure I would have been pleased with it in any other form, I enjoyed Bishop’s narration of his journey exploring the history of ink. There were several moments where I chuckled out loud, in the lunchroom at my work, sitting on the couch in my mom’s living room, and even on transit. What I enjoyed even more than his playfulness was the inclusion of so many local references, including local pen shops, writers, and I even recognized a few classmates from his anecdotes.

As someone that already loves pens and ink, this book easily warmed the cockles of my heart, but I’m sure the fun discussion of ink would intrigue many readers. It’s interesting to consider the dynamic life ink has lead, from the competitive race to perfect the ballpoint pen, to the beautiful poems and perfection that Bishop encountered in China. Read it and love it! (Or at least read it.)

Books read: 2

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One response to “The Social Life of Ink, Ted Bishop

  1. It’s funny how many people have recommended this book to me lately. It’s fun, because then I get to tell them Ted Bishop was a professor of mine, and I’ve heard parts of his ink lectures over and over. I can’t wait to read it, though!

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