3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Whether you are looking at your screen, a paper or an advert in the underground almost all we see around us has words in some form or other. Even the TV news has a ticker tape of other headlines now running underneath the presenter. This technology of the written word has shaped cultures through the ages as much as cultures have shaped language and the written world.

Beginning with Alexander and his pillow book, Puchner takes us from the first marks pressed into clay, the invention of vellum, paper and inks that were first made into codex’s or books as we now call them. Most importantly though was the stories, messages and words that were written on them. These words and works of literature from the epic classics to the political tracts and the religious texts, they have shaped the way people think, cause revolutions and inspired people to fight for the causes they believe in.

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on. ― Terry Pratchett

That power of language is still with us today, as can be seen from modern day politics… This is an interesting book and Puchner has done pretty well to distil the vast magnitude of world literature and the effects that it has had around the world and bring it in between the covers of this book. It has a really helpful timeline at the beginning with locations where each chapter of our literary journey was started and the text is enhanced with images of some of the books he mentions in the text. It is an enjoyable read, the only flaw being that it cannot go into too much depth to make the book manageable, however, there is a large reference section though for those that want to discover more about our shared literary legacy.

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