Monday, August 23, 2021

A Short History of the World According to Sheep - Sally Coulthard

I read this one as part of a reading group, and more than a few chapters in a rush during a post-lunch dip on a Saturday afternoon when I was desperately trying to stay awake. This may have slightly coloured my view as it didn't do the best job of keeping me awake. 

It's the kind of book that I think is meant to be bought mostly as a present, maybe for people who have just moved to the country. There are bits of it that are interesting, and Coulthard's style is engaging, but it's very light and when I went to chase up references they didn't amount to much. This coupled with some basic errors or things that were really vague made it hard to trust what I was reading - it's a stocking filler kind of book. Worth a read if you know nothing about sheep, textiles, or their respective histories, but frustrating if you do know a bit about them and want to know more.

I sort of enjoyed the punning chapter titles (Spinning a Yarn, Mills and Boom etc) but again they're perhaps an indicator that the book isn't meant to be taken tremendously seriously. I think if I'd read this quickly, perhaps on a wet afternoon with nothing else much available (and it also feels like the sort of book you might find on the shelf of the nicer kind of B&B) I would be kinder about it.

Reading it 3 chapters a week with a bunch of the most delightfully critical people you could hope to meet meant that between us I don't think we missed a single flaw! A quick look at amazon shows me a lot of really enthusiastic reviews as well, which is now making me feel slightly churlish, and I certainly enjoyed Coulthard's style enough to pick up another one of her books - I'd just make sure I read enough of it to be sure it was what I wanted before buying. So. Light, enjoyable enough if sheep have previously been a closed book, but not one for the in depth material. 

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