The Way Things Work
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Way Things Work

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,646 ratings  ·  75 reviews
From Levers To Lasers, Cars To Computers- A Visual Guide To The World Of Machines.

A comprehensive, instructive and entertaining reference book for readers of all ages. From hologram to hovercraft, parachute to parking meter, a prize-winning author's brilliantly conceived guide to the principles and workings of hundreds of machines.
Published January 1st 1988
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
312th out of 3,023 books — 4,389 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
183rd out of 2,762 books — 4,719 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,878)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
May 10, 2007 Steven rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book taught me more about technology than my first five years of school, and that isn't intended as a criticism of the public educational system. I'm betting my dad got tired of the perpetual, "Why?" and "How?"'s, and decided this book would be the best way to simultaneously teach me and maintain his sanity.

Where else can a child be taught to understand the simple machines, fission, and how to pick a lock?
Mckay chandler
the mammoths in this book are very funny. this appears to be a engineering textbook,(it probably is,) but IF it is, than it's a heckuva lot better then the stuff they feed us in science textbooks these days... don't read it till your OUT of stuff to read or you'll think this is actually a novel (trust me, on this one, it's not)
Kelly Ramsey
The way things work mr. David Macaulay is finding new ways to work in the world. He wants to savve his information on a microchip, but students for today would use an USB drive. It changed the way technology us used for computersm cars, and watches.

Science/ technology ( large Group)-listening Game
After trasmitting simple information from one student to the last information can be diffrent. So it is very imporant and imparitive that the student listen carefeully.

Game " The picnic Game"

The teache...more
Richard Whitehurst
Me and brockli's favorite part was the toilet. Our toilet was broken and so we learned how 2 fix it. After it was fixed.
OMG yuck. Millions purchased, dozens read.
Otis Chandler
One of my favorite books as a kid!
Will Todd
I liked it...

...but not as much as I had hoped.

You see, I DO have a genuine interest in learning "How Things Work", and while this book was a noble attempt to present the answers in an entertaining way, it often didn't accomplish its fundamental goal for me. In other words, the explanations often didn't succeed in teaching me how the item in question actually worked.

This is partly due to space limitations, i.e., each concept having to be presented basically on one page. For many, I could have us...more
Elizabeth S
I've read many sections of this book many times, but this is my first read-through from beginning to end. Amazing. At times I thought it was skipping important issues, and at other times I wished it explained some basic things better. Then I realized that this was more a revelation of my background in Physics rather than Engineering. I really gained an appreciation for what Engineers do when they take a physical theory and turn it into something practical and useful.

I love the use of the Woolly...more
I came across a copy of this book many years ago and found it rather engrossing as it answered some of the types of questions children often asked back then! Newer editions of this book are also available as a CD-ROM that explores newer digital technology, the history of machines, great inventors and scientific principles. It charts inventions from 7000 BC almost to the present day as well as the scientific principles behind them.

However, as we are becoming deeper immersed in the digital age, i...more
Tim Crabtree
An engineer's dream book - it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
I really need to buy another copy of this book.
Masterfully written.
Sophia Ungar
Alright, so I didn't read the whole thing, just most of it, but I liked knowing how screws and planes work. It is really good because the "mammoth scenarios" let you understand in a (slightly) realistic and amusing manner, then the other parts elaborate and explain on the topics.. I highly recommend this book to children and adults alike, unlike many books
I remember reading this in grade school. The author required exactly two pages full of woolly mammoth cartoons to teach me how a CD player works. I later explained the technology to my dad. I still remember the amazing feeling of realizing that a CD player is not magic. This book inspired my love of taking things apart and understanding what goes on inside expensive boxes.
This book is a great way to give children a basic understanding of many of mankind's machines, while fostering an even greater interest in engineering.
What makes this book so wonderful is not its description of the workings of so many tools and machines, but its straightforward illustrations of everything that Macaulay describes. He presents basic descriptions of the workings of many machines, including: airplanes, the automatic transmission, spacecraft, computers, zippers and toilets.
My uncle was always so thoughtful in his gifts to me. This was one of my first gifts from me. This book sparked my interest in researching the "why" and "how" behind everything we take for granted for in this complex world and it is a great book for kids. Highly recommended! Being interested in art, it also inspired me and influenced my style.
I think it's safe to say that this is a great book for any kid, whether they're interested in science and technology or not. I certainly wasn't interested, and yet I loved paging through this book, plus I also remember that it was very popular with my classmates as well. It's just a fun book (that will--shhhh!--teach you something).
I think I will always be kind of nostalgic for this book, since I could hardly put it down as a curious ten year old. I found it again recently and thought I'd thumb through it only to get sucked into Macaulay's humor and intelligence again. I still marvel at the innovations and physics that Macaulay makes so accessible.
This is one of the books that the librarian book talked and then everyone in my class wanted to read. I remember skimming through it and looking at some of the things. I also have memories of another book that told you all the names to parts of things, but I don't think it was this book.
Mar 14, 2008 Angela rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 4-99 year olds
Recommended to Angela by: Part of my schooling
This is the funniest book to learn how things work. as in vices, knail clipper ... But what makes it funny is they try making things work with a Mammoth dinosaur with cave men. They have their Trials and error and figure it out in the long run. This is a great learning book for age 4-99
Colin Dabritz
A timeless classic, perfect for children curious about the world.
I learned a lot in the beginning, with the mechanical devices. I didn't really follow the electrical/computer stuff, and throughout I thought that he put too much emphasis on automobiles. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. The drawings are funny and sweet.
Apr 20, 2007 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: curious kids
Shelves: childhood
Holy crap did this book change my life. What kid doesn't want to know how those simple every day parts of life work? Did you know they now make DVDs of this stuff? Can't be the same as having the huge book in your lap with the cute illustrations and all.
This is another book from my parents. This was a huge book when it came out. I found that my students enjoy looking through this, particularly the boys.

The diagrams are awesome. In the days before the Internet, this was a really awesome book.
Jamie Belanger
A great reference book, packed full of information and diagrams. This book is probably not meant to be read cover-to-cover, but I did that anyway. I'm insanely curious by nature, and plan to keep this book on my shelf as reference material.
Dec 11, 2007 James rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kids and their parents
A brilliant job of making complicated things understandable in simple terms, from the author of Cathedral, Pyramid, and other books about how various structures were built. Fascinating and informative for adults too; a hard book to put down.
Apr 01, 2011 RacheL added it
Oh my goodness! Is this the book I think it is? My siblings and I used to love looking at this book when we were kiddos. I remember when Dad would get it out and we all sit/stand/lean on or around him and enjoy this book together.
My parents gave me this book for christmas when I was 10 and I have loved it ever since. And while it may not be the best way to learn everything about anything I learn something new every time I read it. (and who can resist the mammoths?)
An awesome explanation of the inner workings of everyday, and some not so everyday, items. How do escalators work, telephones, lasers? Let a group of helpful Mammoths and cave men(?) explain it to you in this illustrated reference book!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 95 96 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Castle
  • Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
  • Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People
  • The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth (The Magic School Bus, #2)
  • The Secret House: The Extraordinary Science of an Ordinary Day
  • The Cartoon Guide to Physics
  • Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail
  • The Handy Science Answer Book
  • A Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides)
  • Butterflies And Moths
  • The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, 2 Vols w/Reading Glass
  • A Drop Of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder
  • The Stars: A New Way to See Them
  • Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
  • Connections
  • Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians (Volume One)
  • Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air
  • The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea (Scientists in the Field Series)
David Macaulay, born in 1946, was eleven when his parents moved from England to Bloomfield, New Jersey. He found himself having to adjust from an idyllic English childhood to life in a fast paced American city. During this time he began to draw seriously, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After spending his fifth year at RISD in Rome on...more
More about David Macaulay...
Black and White Castle Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction The New Way Things Work Motel of the Mysteries

Share This Book