Author: Rebecca Romney, J. P. Romney
Summary: This was a fun, irreverent read with a lighter tone than most nonfiction, but still just as interesting and well researched.
“Since the Gutenberg Bible first went on sale in 1455, printing has been viewed as one of the highest achievements of human innovation. But the march of progress hasn’t been smooth; downright bizarre is more like it. Printer’s Error chronicles some of the strangest and most humorous episodes in the history of Western printing, and makes clear that we’ve succeeded despite ourselves. Rare-book expert Rebecca Romney and author J. P. Romney take us from monasteries and museums to auction houses and libraries to introduce curious episodes in the history of print that have had a profound impact on our world.” (Source)
Initially, I was dubious of this book. The authors use a lot of profanity and while that doesn’t bother me in dialogue, it felt out of place to me in nonfiction. It reminded me of Sarah Vowell’s style in Assassination Vacation, which I did not like. If you do like her style, I’d suggest picking this up. Fortunately for me though, this was different enough from Vowell’s book that I ended up enjoying it. I think initially I was bothered by the style because it didn’t feel formal enough for nonfiction. As I went along, I felt like I was learning a lot and started to enjoy the information being presented in such an entertaining way. I also got used to the authors’ style and stopped feeling surprised every time they said ‘fuck’.
Overall, this seemed incredibly well researched; it contained a ton of fascinating stories; and the style was truly engaging. I often couldn’t help reading passages out loud to whoever was around for me to inflict that on. The organization was also good. Although the stories could have felt a bit random due to their quirkiness, each chapter was very cohesive. The authors finished winning me over with their afterward, suggesting that a reader who enjoyed their book pick up further reading to learn about the history of print in more depth. I felt that the authors sincerely wanted to use their entertaining style to interest people who might not otherwise read nonfiction. They certainly succeeded in drawing me in! Although the style is more similar to Vowell than Roach, I’d recommend it to fans of either. And if you aren’t sure nonfiction is your thing, this non-traditional and hilarious book might be a good place to start.