This book (original title "Teckens Rike") by Swedish Sinologist Cecilia Lindqvist tells the story of Chinese writing - and much more. The book traces the history of individual characters from their archaic beginnings, found on bone inscriptions discovered in the late 19th century to their modern day versions.
The book was quite popular among my group of young students of Chinese at the university in the 1990s and its appeal is not hard to understand. Lindqvist's writing is very up close and personal and she relates the history of writing in China to its general history and culture, as well as her personal experiences. I would assume the English version is hard to get by - in fact I did not even know one existed until I started to look for a translation of the Swedish title - but would definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy if possible. I have the Finnish edition and just got it back from a friend who borrowed it - for about 15 years!
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