Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Way Things Work” as Want to Read:
The Way Things Work
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Way Things Work

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  2,138 Ratings  ·  98 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Way Things Work, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Way Things Work

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Steven
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)
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.
Janet
Jan 18, 2012 Janet rated it did not like it
OMG yuck. Millions purchased, dozens read.
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
...more
Elizabeth S
Jan 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
...more
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
...more
Sabera
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
...more
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
...more
Tylernickl
Jul 28, 2010 Tylernickl rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Heather
Sep 16, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
I suppose I shouldn't really say that I've "read" this one. I haven't read every page. We mostly hunt through it looking for the pictures that Paul likes. It's one of those books that I appreciate, but don't really enjoy. I don't want to read descriptions of how pulleys or microwave ovens work. But my kid sure does. Plus he likes the mammoth.
LeAndra Simone
Dec 06, 2016 LeAndra Simone rated it really liked it
This book is great for information!! It's especially good for use as a segway into science experiments, units, chapters, etc. We use it in my classroom for our chapter on simple machines and we discuss how different machines work to do different things. A must have for the classroom, as well as curious students who always want to ask why.
Matthew
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.
Sean
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.
Annie
Jan 10, 2013 Annie rated it it was amazing
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.
Rachel
Feb 04, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it
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).
Brian
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.
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
Kelli Novak
Amously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer.
Kyle
Apr 20, 2007 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Brian Black
Jul 22, 2010 Brian Black rated it really liked it
This was a book explaining physics and chemistry on a level that I can understand. I loved learning about the inclined plane, gears, locks and keys, zippers, escalators and elevators, and other random things. Very interesting.
Rachel
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.
Jamie Belanger
Mar 21, 2012 Jamie Belanger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jeremy
Aug 14, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Man, what a great book. I spent countless hours of my childhood pouring over this book, with it's illustrations, cartoons, and diagrams. It is a primer on how much of the world around us actually works, explained in simple, yet detailed and undiluted language.
Mike Salzman
Jun 19, 2013 Mike Salzman rated it it was amazing
I got this book when I was around 10. I still have it. I'm waiting for when my kids are old enough so that I can share it with them. It may have been the single biggest influence in why I became an engineer.
James
Dec 11, 2007 James rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Eve
Feb 07, 2009 Eve rated it really liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Storms
  • Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Castle
  • Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
  • A Rock Is Lively
  • HTML for the World Wide Web (Visual QuickStart Guides)
  • Butterflies And Moths
  • Explorabook: A Kids' Science Museum in a Book
  • The Icky Bug Alphabet Book
  • Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People
  • The Handy Science Answer Book
  • The Secret House: The Extraordinary Science of an Ordinary Day
  • The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea (Scientists in the Field Series)
  • Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
  • A Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides)
  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
  • Horse (Eyewitness Books)
  • A Drop Of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder
  • Find the Constellations

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
18539
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...

Share This Book