To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World Hardcover – May 27, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
In this overwrought ode to doing it yourself, Make magazine editor Frauenfelder attempts to forge a deeper connection and a more rewarding sense of involvement with the world by making more of the things his family uses and eats. His DIY projects are varied—organic gardening, building a chicken coop, constructing cigar-box guitars, keeping bees, tutoring his daughter—and not uniformly successful: chickens get devoured by a coyote; the bees subsist on sugar-water handouts; his daughter fails the big math test. (Not to worry, he insists, since accepting mistakes is foundational to the DIY ethos.) Frauenfelder's hand-making procedurals are engaging, but, for him, practicality takes a back seat to spirituality, to living authentically, to grokking the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, the beauty found in an object's imperfections. He often presents DIY as a form of therapy: spoon-whittling isn't about spoons, it's about the calming and focusing effect of spoon-whittling. (And like most therapies, these projects often require lots of disposable income—a thousand dollars for a load of mulch!—and spare time.) People have hobbies because they are interesting and fun; by inflating hobbyism into a belief system, Frauenfelder doesn't add much to their appeal. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"This is a must-read book. Mark has lovingly and candidly documented the complex, myriad, intangible and often very tangible rewards of grabbing the world with both of your hands, and learning how it works."
- Adam Savage, Mythbusters
"What Mark Frauenfelder knows is that making a ukulele out of a cigar box is not just fun (and finally a good use for your thousands of old cigar boxes), it's a way of restringing and retuning your whole life. Buy this book, read it, and then maybe make it into a clarinet. I bet you can!"
- John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require
"Why do otherwise well-adjusted people take to raising chickens in Studio City? What sort of contrarian spends a lot of time and money to kill his own lawn? These may be the projects of one quirky individual, but they point to something universal and true. Human beings find their proper home not in large-scale corporate structures but in the struggle for individual agency. You have to admire the doggedness with which the individuals in Made By Hand try to render their own world intelligible."
- Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
"Frauenfelder has been at the center of the emerging maker movement, chronicling its rise as an economic force. Here, he describes a parallel evolution: his own embrace of making, as he applies the lessons he's been learning to his own life. It's as inspiring as it is entertaining. You'll never look at your lawn the same again!"
- Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine
"Made By Hand is a wonderful, thought-provoking, and timely book that shows us why and how we need to take back control of our lives. Now if only Mark Frauenfelder would put out a version written by hand on paper he made from the trees in his backyard."
- A.J. Jacobs, author of The Guinea Pig Diaries and The Year of Living Biblically
"Made by Hand is an absurdist essay on 'resistentialism,' defined as 'the theory that things have a secret agenda to make us miserable by fighting back against our efforts to use them.' It is the flip-side of self-sufficiency and independence-an example of the ongoing war between HAP (hire a pro) and DIY. Do you give in to the unassailable fact that you have no idea how things work, or do you embark on a quixotic (but potentially enlightening) attempt to figure it out?"
- Errol Morris, Academy Award-winning director of Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
"Frauenfelder believes - as do I - that the DIY ethic is only partly about the things you produce. It's also about learning how to learn, about connecting with others who share your interests, and about taking pride in your accomplishments. ... I think the book is great, and I encourage you to pick up a copy if you're at all interested in DIY."
-J.D. Roth, Get Rich Slowly
"Made By Hand is a wonderfully inspiring read and makes turning to a make-centric way of life feel not only approachable, but utopian."
-Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger.com
Top customer reviews
The book is an almost autobiographical series of stories about the author's various different do it yourself (DIY) projects. Many of these aren't exactly what you'd normally think of as DIY projects. For example, the projects include moving to Rarotonga (in the Cook Islands), killing his lawn, raising chickens, and educating his kids. In some sense, the specific projects doesn't really matter: this isn't a "how to" book that tells you how to accomplish specific projects. Instead it explains the DIY philosophy in general and gives advice that applies to pretty much any kind of DIY project. The more unorthodox DIY projects serve to show how versatile this general advice is.
Probably the main practical piece of advice in the book is: don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, and so without screwing up a few projects you'll never be able to expand your DIY skill-set.
Frauenfelder is also a great writer. The stories were all very engaging. Despite the fact that very few of the projects were things I would have considered doing before, the book not only kept me interested, it even made me at least think about trying some of those things. I probably won't actually raise chickens, but the fact that I not only enjoyed reading about Frauenfelder chicken raising (mis)adventures, and even briefly considered the possibility of doing it myself says something about the quality of his writing.
If you like making things this book is for you. If you like the idea of making things but don't do it (enough) out of fear of screwing things up, this book is even more for you.