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  • A.K. Lee

Salt: A World History

Fuel, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, tea. The seven essentials of a Chinese household - and salt is the first condiment listed. Salt is vital, so how much do you know about it?

I picked up this book by happy accident - I was looking for a nonfiction text that I could use for some classwork and found myself engrossed in the first chapter when I meant to just skim over a few paragraphs. Kurlansky's book is an easy and accessible read, and lays out how salt - something so essential yet so overlooked in our lives - has transformed much of human history. From mythology to technology, from culture to infrastructure, salt has been transformative.


What I took away from the book, outside of a new appreciation of NaCl, is that reviewing how the people in my worlds attain salt and salted goods can help in my worldbuilding skills. Considering where salt or similar essentials come from can help me picture infrastructure, envision power plays, imagine slang; our basic needs shape our lives, after all, so something as basic as salt would affect a huge part of it. As a writer who enjoys creating new worlds, this helps a lot in crafting a world that is believable and relatable. I would definitely recommend reading this book.


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