Scribes, Scripts, and Books [Review]

reviewed by Lizzy Walker

Scribes, Scripts, and Books: The Book Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance
Leila Avrin
Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-8389-1038-2, Paperback
356 pages, $50.00

Leila Avrin gives an extensive and informative exploration into book arts in her book Scribes, Scripts, and Books: The Book Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Her experience as a faculty member at the School of Library and Archive Studies at the University of Jerusalem and her academic credentials (an MLS and a doctorate in Art History) add to the content between the covers of this book.

Much of the book is devoted to the history of book arts from the ancient world to modern times. There are chapters devoted to writing and the alphabet of different cultures, manuscript illumination, Greek and Roman books, and more. Avrin discusses materials used by people in each era to create their tomes, the sociopolitical climates of the regions and how this affected the book arts, and numerous other aspects of this interesting topic. She briefly touches on papermaking and bookbinding, which continue despite the emergence of the ebook.

The plates published within the book would benefit from color reproductions, as illuminated manuscripts are very vibrant in color. One chapter in particular that would be enriched by color plates is the chapter on the Islamic book with its intricate images and writings.

Scribes, Script, and Books would be a fantastic addition to any library or private collection with an interest in the book arts.

Lizzy is currently working on her MLIS with the University of North Texas SWIM cohort and works as a Library Assistant 2 at the Boise State Albertsons Library.

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