Made By Hand; Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, (2010) by Mark Frauenfelder is a must-read for anyone wants to devote more of their energy into doing things themselves (making things, fixing things, and growing things) rather than standing idly by and allowing mass-manufactured products to suffocate us.
I found the first chapter, The Courage to Screw Things Up, to be especially encouraging. How many times have I failed to create or fix something because I was worried that I would mess it up? More times than I care to think about. It’s not that my reasons aren’t valid. Usually I probably view the materials as being too precious because they are irreplaceable or expensive. In chapter one, after visiting a seasoned DIY veteran, Mark learns, and in turn teaches his readers, that screwing things up is “the one step to overcome to get on the path of living a richer life of engagement, of having meaningful connections to the objects around you (p23).”
Mark later talks about his experiences with souping up his espresso machine, creating hand-carved spoons, and constructing musical instruments from scratch. In addition to feeling like he’s “tuned in to a better way of living,” he is gaining a better understanding of how things work.
But Mark takes DIY beyond the realm of inanimate objects. In his book he describes his experiences with killing his lawn to make room to grow his own fruits and vegetables (chapters 2 and 3), raising chickens (chapter 5) and keeping bees (chapter 8). In chapter 9, he talks about his experience of taking more of an active role in the education of his two daughters and begins tutoring his oldest girl in math.
Overall, this book is highly inspiring, informative, and entertaining. I hope that you will seek it out at your local book store or library.
In addition to his book you can find his blog, boing boing, at boingboing.net.
If you have read this book, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.
In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to state that this review was in no way solicited by Mark Frauenfelder or the publisher of his book. I found the book at my library, read it, enjoyed it, and now I want to share it with you.