Monday, September 4, 2017

Salt - Mark Kurlansky

Title: Salt: A World History
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 484
Genre: Nonfiction
How I Found It: The nonfiction branch of my book club read it.
Date Completed: 8/10/17

Summary: It's a complete history of salt. Yep. Seriously. But don't run away just yet! It was surprisingly interesting. 

What I Thought: Ok, ok. I know. I read a book about salt. Like, that salt. The salt that's in all of our kitchens and in most of our food. 

When Kevin saw me reading it, he said, "Did you finish all the interesting books? You're just reading boring ones now?" Ha. Ha. 

But I get his thinking. When the nonfiction branch of my book club announced this as the next pick, I was not particularly thrilled. A book about salt just doesn't sound interesting. 

And yet...

I was completely fascinated by this book. You would be shocked to learn what an impact salt has had on culture and world history. Did you know camels were domesticated so they could carry hundreds of pounds of salt across the Sahara? Did you know salt played a big role in the American Civil War? Did you know that the phrase "worth his salt" originated when Roman soldiers were paid in salt? Yeah. Me neither.

It definitely took me a while to get through this book. It's not a quick read and I know many, many people would not find it as interesting as I did. But, as a student of history and culture, I was really fascinated by the impact of this one element on human history. Even after I had to miss the book club meeting about this one because we were in Michigan, I kept reading. I kept reading the book about salt just because I wanted to. That should tell you something. 

It was a great reminder, too, of how intelligent our ancestors were. I think we can sometimes get into this mindset that modern knowledge is the be-all-end-all and we are so much smarter than anyone who has come before us. But people have been doing incredible things for millennia. It amazes me what they were able to figure out without science labs or textbooks. 

The moral of the story? Don't judge a book by its subject matter. You might be very surprised. I certainly was. And, I hope all the random people at parties, family gatherings, and other miscellaneous events with whom I have shared salt facts in the last few months found me as interesting as I found this book. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: No, but I'm not gonna quit talking about it.

A Reduced Review: You would not expect a book about salt to be this fascinating. 

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