I started following Lydia Pyne on Twitter some time ago. I don’t remember if it was our mutual love of the mountains and mountain biking or tweeting as we watched a NOVA program. Then in early August, I learned through her Twitter stream that she had authored a new book coming soon, “Seven Skeletons”. I knew immediately that I wished to read it. Reviews were becoming available, leading even more to my anticipation. Proud purchasers tweeted selfies, book in hand, as soon as the book became available in the U.S. Here in Canada, I might have found (or even become) a fossil before the book became available. I visited bookstores and libraries for weeks in search of Seven Skeletons. Finally, I found it! The book was mine!
With all the books available in bookstores and libraries, what makes one book stand out above all the others? Was it my lay interest in paleoarchaeology? Was I influenced by knowing the author, if only through Twitter? Perhaps I was influenced by the very positive review of the book by National Geographic, or hearing a radio podcast interview with the author. Was it a herd reflex seeing so many other Twitter users praising the book? While all these factors may have influenced my purchase of the book, it was the engaging style of writing and the suspense that kept me turning the pages. Lydia treated us to these skeletons as real personalities. We learned more than their history, or their place in history. We learned of their importance in our culture and we learned how the science itself evolved over the past hundred years.
Lydia Pyne is both a scientist and a historian. She drew on both to help us experience the celebrity of Seven Skeletons. You will want to read her book.
You can also find me on