Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pure Sea Glass (Richard LaMotte)

In my spare time, I collect sea glass. I walk along the shoreline of bodies of water (lakes and oceans, mostly) and look for shards of glass that are at least a little bit rounded/worn down. I don't care about color or size (that isn't strictly true--I love finding rare colors and big pieces especially, but there are some people out there who refuse to collect average pieces, which is not the point of looking for glass). It's relaxing just to walk and look and occasionally find an exciting piece.

So someone bought me Pure Sea Glass as a present for Christmas and I figured it was probably time for me to read it. The book was great--it was incredibly informational and beautiful pictures of glass. I learned a lot about not only the best places to look and the rarity of certain colors, but also how those colors were made, when they were made, where they were made and what things those colors were used for (a very obvious example includes brown for beer bottles). Richard LaMotte does a splendid job of looking at the glass from every angle.

But sometimes that's a bad thing. There were parts of the book (especially in the latter half, where there are whole chapters about bottles or decorative glass) where he rapid-fire assaults the reader with lots of information, and it's more overwhelming than interesting. This was a book that would have done a great job of utilizing lists and charts to organize the contents.

And sometimes those beautiful pictures didn't seem necessary. For example, there's a section where the author talks about bottles that were manufactured to hold poisons and explains how these differed from regular bottles. How interesting, how cool! And he includes a picture of an entirely intact bottle, which is cool, but I would have appreciated a picture of some sea-tumbled glass that had been positively identified as a poison bottle, since that's the whole point of the book. LaMotte mentions possible methods and indicators that would tell someone, but doesn't do it himself. Disappointing.

Sometimes the book strayed a little too far from sea glass, which was distracting and a little tiresome. He gives a pretty thorough history of bottle manufacturing and the evolution of the bottle-stopper, and that section drags. The last chapter is all about shoreline erosion and sea level rise, which is an important environmental issue but felt out of place (he brings it up to mention how it makes it harder to find glass as if that's the main concern associated with this problem).

Overall, an interesting (and useful!) book with lots of great information that with some sections that can definitely be skimmed or skipped.

My rating: 4/5
Pure Sea Glass on Goodreads
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