Essential Reading: Made by Hand, Mark Frauenfelder
When I unwrapped Mark Frauenfelder’s latest book “Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World“, I resolved to leave the copy sitting on my bookshelf until I had enough free time to really appreciate it. I had intended to read the book over a period of several days, turning my full attention to one chapter at a time. Unfortunately, I was foolish enough to read the first page, and was drawn into a marathon reading session that continued until I had absorbed every last word.
“Made by Hand” struck a particular chord for me, and I found myself unable to set the book down until I had digested the full contents. After seeing Mark Frauenfelder talk at the Maker Faire, I had expected this book to be a whistle stop tour of the ‘Good Life’ - a snapshot of the maker culture in digest form. In actuality, the book proved to be much more than this. By the end of the first couple of chapters, I understood that I was reading a very personal record of how one family had changed their lives by becoming more self sufficient.
Mark uses this book to make an unashamed assessment of his own successes and failures, and his insightful self analysis will strike a chord with all makers. The simple joys of a tool you make yourself, the realization that next time you will do it better, the solidarity you feel for other makers, and a host of other feelings are all woven into the pages of “Made by Hand”.
The most uplifting feature of the book is that it refrains from telling you how to do things, but concentrates on how the author did things, and why. Perhaps I am naturally obstreperous, but I much prefer to hear how someone did something than be told how I should do it. Rather than try to provide a how-to guide for the good life, Mark shows the path that he has taken, and his interactions with like-minded makers reflect the happy news that the DIY mentality is making a comeback.
I recommend this book to everyone, whatever their interest. The light, insightful, and well written narrative makes the book a suitable choice for holiday reading, and the only negative is that you might find yourself drawing assembly instructions for a chicken coup at 3am – even if you do live on the 17th floor.
“Made by Hand” will be released on the 27th of May 2010, and can be purchased from all good bookshops. You can get your copy from Amazon, here: Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World