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A Carpenter's Life as Told by Houses

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  25 reviews
From one of Fine Homebuilding’s best-loved authors, Larry Haun, comes a unique story that looks at American home building from the perspective of twelve houses he has known intimately. Part memoir, part cultural history, A Carpenter’s Life as Told by Housestakes the reader house by house over an arc of 100 years. Along with period photos, the author shows us the sod house ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Taunton Press
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Aug 25, 2014 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: craft, work
I wish I’d known Larry Haun. From his writing he comes across as one of those spry, sometimes cranky, remarkably ageless carpenters you meet from time to time who love their work and understand the deeper meaning of their craft. Best of all, his passion was for creating durable, practical housing. Not McMansions. Not ego-castles. Just shelter, a basic human need.

Here’s the purpose of the book in Larry’s own words:
I can’t help but wonder about the relationship between people and their homes. How
part cultural history, part memoir, part "how to frame a house" instructions. Larry Haun is a lifelong carpenter who also writes for "fine homebuilding" magazine.
the book's pleasure is diluted by his long digressions into "why can't we all see how we're ruining the planet/the atmosphere/etc." plaints. They are nothing you haven't heard before, while his own story is definitely something you've NEVER heard before.
I will never forget this description of the sod houses of Nebraska, and the winds t
I love houses and everything about them. I like to know the history behind them, how they are made. I'm especially intrigued by older houses. I loved the beginning of this book, started out describing some old style houses of the west. Very interesting to me. I read other reviews of this book where people said they got tired of the author's "preaching" and in the beginning I didn't see how that fit what I was reading. It quickly changed though. He is very into "green" and save the earth and what ...more
Ashland Mystery Oregon
The title is wonderful, isn't it? "A Carpenter's Life as Told by Houses". Larry Haun spent his early years in a Nebraska sod house, and building with wood must have had magical properties, growing up as he did on the great plains where trees and lumber were so scarce. Haun's narrative voice is so calming, and so loving of the earth, his fellows and his craft, it was a real pleasure to read his biography.

Throughout his life, Haun moved from job site to job site, building stick houses in developme
Mary Soderstrom
I bought this book for my husband on the strength of a story in the New York Times about a year ago. ( Larry Haun had written a lot for Tauton Press publications, which my husband loves: he has a nearly complete set of Fine Woodworking.

Therefore I expected this story of Haun's life and the houses he knew and built would be a big hit. But my husband cmplained that it was poorly organized and written, and without a good focus. When I told him that the book
This was an enjoyable book, if a little on the preachy side. Haun is a master craftsman/carpenter and tells the story of his life through the houses in which he has lived and those he has built. There are many fascinating stories here that make the book worth reading.

Where it breaks down a bit is in the incessant hearkening back to a simpler time and eco-lecturing. While he is absolutely correct in his sentiment, it reminds me of nothing so much as a crotchety old fart standing on the porch yel
There are good moments in this book that are ultimately outweighed by the preachy "society isn't as good as I am" comments that litter the end of every segment. I found that the positive nature of what the author had to say were dramatically outweighed by very self-aggrandizing nature of these comments. I found myself distinctly not liking the author by the end of the book.
There are not many philosophers anymore, and those that are around are in universities somewhat isolated from the common person. That is what made this book interesting. Larry Haun, who is a life long carpenter from the Great Plains, is also an insightful sage on many topics of life and building.

Born during the Great Depression, he tells the story of housing through the eyes of a carpenter. One of the wonderful parts of the book were all the questions he asks along the way. Instead of giving ane
Alex French
Very disappointing. Too much glib, obvious philosophizing. Stories and ideas are interwoven a little too closely to the pint if rambling.

I almost gave up halfway through.
A truly excellent memoir from an author and builder who did much to advance what we now know as production framing. Having read Larry's How to Build a House and wished for a little more detail during his tangential stories, this book was perfect for me. It's certainly not about how to be a carpenter, but it is about how to inhabit the world in which he live. If he seems to spend a little too much time belaboring a few simple ideas, it's because he finds them to be critically important. Highly re ...more
So far I'm only a couple of chapters in and I'm loving it!

This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes.

A Carpenter's Life as Told by Houses is an incredible book. Larry Haun tells his life story using houses that he has experienced building or watched being built. The information included for each type of house is thorough. But his experiences shared during each chapter outshine the housebuilding. After reading this I have found myself looking up this author and wanting to read mo
A wonderful, thoughtfully written story covering decades of different houses. From sod to McMansions the tale shows how our living spaces have far exceeded what we really need based on the suthor's years of home building.
Mr. Haun is very interesting in his coverage of houses. His writing style for me is disruptive, more like an editorial or a short story. He frequently (every chapter) espouses the need to live more green, which I agree with. It does get tiring when reading a book about houses to here the author step up onto his soapbox. He then gets off and goes on with the story
I had high hopes, but in the end the book just read like an old man's ramblings. I agree with point of view, but it would've been nice to end on with a "here's what I propose" chapter instead of a "here's how we're doing things wrong" attitude
That being said, if you're a fan of houses, he goes through the pros and cons of several types in detail.
A very humane book. Author tells of his youth on the high plains of Nebraska where some still lived in sod houses. He criticizes the shallowness and wastefulness of our consumer culture. Not a memoir but a series of sketches tied to different types of structures.
John used request it and the library bought this. But he wasn't reading it so...I read parts of this out loud to John because the author's life as builder and John's are very similar, but also their spiritual life and life lessons learned.
when the library director says "this is a book for you" and hands it to you what is left to do but read it. i loved it! an unassuming book full of interesting facts and small life lesson nuggets. one for your list.
Feb 21, 2012 Cara added it
I enjoyed this book. Haun was a quiet, spiritual man finding his way by building every imaginable type of house from Sod to Ultra Modern. His insights were perfect for these chaotic times.
Al Kasper
Would have been a good book if were not for Larry's going on and on about how bad everything is in our society, how we are destroying the earth.
Disappointing. The idea was good, but the writing was rambling and preachy. Never did force myself to finish this book.

Great way for a carpenter to tell his life story. Lots of points to ponder about our modern lifestyle. Well worth reading.
Reviewed by Stephen. who liked it a lot.
Cora enjoyed the part about houses, but
found it much too philosophical and preachy.
I liked the idea better than the execution. You've got to like wood, nails and other building material to like it at all.
Nathan interesting perspective...
Dan Singler
Dan Singler marked it as to-read
Sep 09, 2015
Lorelie Kaye
Lorelie Kaye marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2015
Jay marked it as to-read
Aug 04, 2015
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