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The Way Things Work

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,043 Ratings  ·  94 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.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 1st 1988
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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
328th out of 3,654 books — 5,325 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)
202nd out of 3,933 books — 5,804 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 10, 2007 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 09, 2009 Mckay chandler rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2014 Kelly Ramsey rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Whitehurst
Jun 02, 2010 Richard Whitehurst rated it it was amazing
Shelves: informational
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.
Jan 18, 2012 Janet rated it did not like it
OMG yuck. Millions purchased, dozens read.
Julie Barrett
Nov 26, 2014 Julie Barrett rated it really liked it
The Way Things Work by David McCauley
Many categories and many topics of discussion about how they really work.
The workings of machines and even such simple things as can openers.
Links how when one item was invented it led to many others. Not only educational but informative in a fun way.
Book should be a lot better with the pictures showing what is going on, where I just listened to this on tape the pictures are discussed.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Aud
Otis Chandler
Aug 15, 2008 Otis Chandler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
One of my favorite books as a kid!
Will Todd
Nov 03, 2011 Will Todd rated it liked it
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
Oct 21, 2014 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This book is AWESOME! As a Technology Teacher, I use this as well as the NEW way things work to create assignments. Wonderful resources that kids will spend entire class periods looking through. I call it an engineer's dream book - as it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)...From toilets, to nuclear warheads.
MusingMom Kris
This is a classic that despite it's appearance as a reference book, portions relating to Mammoth Island make it a living book. While it is a great introductory science reading for the upper elementary years, it contains mostly application science for upper middle school students, and all of us other curious folk.
Devin Tietjen
Jun 17, 2016 Devin Tietjen rated it really liked it
I read this book because it is a non-fiction book and I had to read one for my book talk but I'm glad that I did because like the title of it I learned about the way many things work. I liked this book and I recommend this book to anyone who likes engineering and science. I rate it a 4 out of 5.
Gray .K
Oct 20, 2014 Gray .K rated it it was amazing
This book is great many people say that this books is boring but I find it extremely interesting to learn about how thing work. The truth is that everything around me is based off of extremely simple concepts. This book will appeal to anyone that is dying to learn about the how technology works.
Brandon Nuckelt
Mar 06, 2015 Brandon Nuckelt rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite work of non-fiction as a child! David Macaulay has such a gift for creating beautiful, engrossing images that are easy to comprehend. He's found the sweet spot that lies between (not overly) technical drawings and a lighthearted comic-style illustration.

Elizabeth S
Dec 26, 2009 Elizabeth S rated it really liked it
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
Megan Roberts
This book is all about how things work. From a parachute all the way to a parking meter. This would be for older grades but this book is good for all ages. I would use this book in a first grade and up class.
May 31, 2013 Sabera rated it liked it
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
Jun 17, 2016 Elenakoutsourades rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim Crabtree
Jun 01, 2014 Tim Crabtree rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An engineer's dream book - it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)
Alain Aguilar
Sep 05, 2014 Alain Aguilar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: useful-stuff
I find this book to be very useful in seeing how everyday objects work.I find it is a little outdated,but I give it 5 stars because I loved this book as a child.
Aug 03, 2014 Nooilforpacifists rated it really liked it
Shelves: math-science
As a child, TWTW was endlessly fascinating, provoking scores of questions that no doubt annoyed my parents.
Jun 08, 2015 Mckinley rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science, ref
He's good at illustrating and explaining how things work.
Avery Danielson
This would be a very interesting and informative book for all ages!
Nov 03, 2015 Cyber_Gaming108 rated it it was amazing
its an interesting book
Jun 02, 2014 Jared rated it it was amazing
Masterfully written.
Katie Loucks
I loved skimming this as a kid!
Ben Schaffer
Nov 30, 2014 Ben Schaffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sophia Ungar
Dec 31, 2013 Sophia Ungar rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2010 Brian rated it it was amazing
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.
Benjamin Page
Jan 06, 2014 Benjamin Page rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 05, 2013 Sean rated it liked it
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.
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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
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