Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of one of the biggest blogs around, BoingBoing.net. In fact, I’ve been reading that blog for a couple of years now. Who knew, that I would get a chance to review Mark’s new book, Made By Hand. I initially thought the book was about making fun items at home, and to an extent it is, but it’s ultimately a tribute to the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) movement.
The first thing I noticed when I started reading this book was how much Mark was a lot like other people in the world today. How many people make a living in the Information Technology world? How many spend most of their days in front of a computer screen? Furthermore, how many feel like there is more out there? Mark did, and I believe many others are out there as well.
To start the book, Mark writes about his and his wife’s desire to slow down life. They decided that they would pick up and move to Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands. After living there for a few months, they realized it wasn’t a change in the setting that they desired. It was a change in lifestyle that they required. While in Rarotonga, Mark learned different ways he and his family could enjoy preparing coconuts for consumption. It required a lot of hands on preparation and that satisfaction led him on his way to the DIY movement.
For the rest of the book, he describes different DIY projects that he embarked upon. He starts with killing his front lawn and growing vegetation. He goes on to recount his other projects of keeping bees, homemade string instruments, espresso machines, education, and a very touching story about raising chickens.
The overwhelming theme in his book is that mistakes are okay. In fact, the best teacher in DIY or life in general is the mistake. In each of his projects, he highlights his mistakes, and the fact that they are inevitable. Some mistakes are small and force some rework, while others affect his family in a much larger way. Either way, he moved on and figured out how to do better next time.
He talks about his struggles and all the people he leaned on to be successful. He constantly speaks about his feelings of accomplishment from doing things himself. Strangely enough, while reading the book, I also felt a bit of satisfaction as he wrapped up each project. Mostly, I just got the itch to go out and do more things myself. I know I’ve tried many things myself and mistakes and roadblocks are common place. Now I know I’m not the only one.
The author of this post received a complementary review copy of this book, but the opinions expressed are his own.