Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew” as Want to Read:
How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  296 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews

As members of the Greatest Generation, our grandfathers were not only defined by the Depression but also by their heroic service to the country in World War II. Courageous, responsible, and involved, they understand sacrifice, hard work, and how to do whatever is necessary to take care of their loved ones
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 14th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published November 24th 2010)
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 How to Build a Fire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How to Build a Fire

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 17, 2012 Gospodyina rated it liked it
Since I read it at the gym, I can confidently state it took less than 4 hours to read: two on a recumbent bike, less than two on a treadmill.

It's cute. The task-based how-tos are quite brief, obviously, since it's possible to write an entire book about any one of them, but the more esoteric how-tos were the ones I really enjoyed: how to be a friend, apologize, be brave, etc.

I'm interested in reading the other one, How to Sew a Button, and I suspect both would be suitable gifts for teens. Ha! Now
Apr 14, 2011 Kathleen rated it liked it
Shelves: benicia, 2011
Handy, indeed, and fun to read; I never intended to actually finish it, it was brought home from the library by somebody else and found its way into my hands. The actual grandfatherly advice takes the form of a short quote at the start of each instruction whether it be for consoling a loved one or shopping for a car. I'll be looking for the grandmother version and intend to read that as well. This would make a decent gift for just about anyone.
Jan 24, 2011 Kristi rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This has information on just about EVERYTHING!! While it does seem to be slanted towards males, the skills inside the book are definitely ones everyone should know (changing a tire, buying meat, starting a fire, etc.). This is a book I come back to again and again to learn/remember new skills. Plus, its humorous and sarcastic in many places (as well as simplistic)!
Nomadic SA Chick's Book Reviews

I have always been a tomboy, playing in the dirt, climbing corn cribs, and running through the pastures. Growing up, I was happy to hang out with father and grandfather in the fields or in the tractors. Following them around as they did chores and helping them out however I could. I also played with my Barbies, and they helped out on the farm as well. Some days, my dolls came home dirtier than I did. My mom wasn't as thrilled about this as I was, but I thin
Mar 05, 2012 Stacy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation and the Boy Scout Handbook had a baby, it would be this book. Nice grandfathers, simple advice from their lives and some humor that just tried too hard. Cute book to read while waiting at appointments or while killing time at an airport but nothing you would buy with intentions to use as an advice book.
Jul 10, 2012 Brianne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers, young men, men, sons of single mothers
Shelves: how-to
I really think that every teenage male (or, heck, female) should be given this book upon hitting puberty. This stuff should be taught in a high school class. Some of the advice is a tad bit clichéd, kind of "Well, duh" instead of any real insider advice or anything in-depth, but it's a great starter skill set for the well-rounded young man.
May 23, 2011 Margie rated it liked it
Recommended to Margie by: Bas Bleu
Shelves: nonfiction-other
Covers a lot of subjects, though it could have gone more in-depth with any of them. Good enough that I'm considering buying a copy for a certain nephew about to start college.
Nov 29, 2016 Weston rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I didn't read the entire thing, as it isn't so much a 'read through' type book. But I skimmed through most of it, and read the portions that I considered interesting / useful. I think it will be a good reference book though.
Flying Off The Shelves
Nov 13, 2015 Flying Off The Shelves rated it it was amazing
In my review of this book's mate, How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew I stated all my thoughts on how important a series like this is. These books aren't just about our connection with our predecessors, or survival. They are about living and being better through respecting what has come before so that we are ready for the future.

What this book brings to the table what the other book didn't is the voice of the grandfathers. Grandfathers for many people are these amaz
Filipe Dias
Jan 21, 2012 Filipe Dias rated it it was ok
I was hoping that this would be a good book on learning useful skills, but turned out that I already knew how to do most of the things there, and many others would be easy to figure out.
Now, if you're 29 like me and you don't know how to do most of these things already, then I have to be blunt here, you're pretty useless. In that case, this book should be mandatory for you.
I did enjoy a lot the grandfather's life stories, it made the book shine and was very interesting to know a bit from people
Nov 03, 2014 Ms.Wietecha rated it really liked it
This has information on just about EVERYTHING!! While it does seem to be slanted towards males, the skills inside the book are definitely ones everyone should know (changing a tire, buying meat, starting a fire, etc.). This is a book I come back to again and again to learn/remember new skills. Plus, its humorous and sarcastic in many places (as well as simplistic)!
Nov 27, 2012 Megan rated it it was ok
A fun little book, but it didn't really contain much that I didn't already know how to do (or didn't apply to me). If there was really something that I wanted to learn how to do (paint a room, refinish a dresser, write a love letter), I'd be better off doing a Google search as you won't find any in depth instructions here. A good graduation gift idea.
Bao Thai
Mar 31, 2013 Bao Thai rated it really liked it
It's a pretty interesting book. It contains many different instruction for many basic skills in life ranging from household stuff to survival skills. While some of the skills mentioned in the books are not always used in life but overall, it really helps knowing the things said in the book. Strongly recommended for young boys.
Dec 04, 2012 Nan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A panel of grandfathers have assembled good advice and instruction for topics ranging from how to be brave to how to mow the lawn. I preferred the concrete informative sections (how to play bocce ball, how to identify animal tracks) over the big existential issues, but I think that is partly a product of the book's format. Anyone up for bocce?
Jul 19, 2011 Steven rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not to bad. It rare that theres a book that actually gets things right. Especially when dealing with doing stuff for yourself. I'd rate it correct about 95% of the book. But the fishing and wood splitting is written from some romantic point of view that I personally know could use some better insights.
Robert Joseph
Aug 11, 2012 Robert Joseph rated it it was ok
This book I originally bought for my nephews. I think the perspective of the female author in this case tainted her research. I think some of the grandfathers would've been more forthright with a male and the lack comes through. That being said the information, although pedantic and at times trite, is presented thoroughly and that's at least refreshing.
Nov 05, 2013 Gen rated it it was amazing
I had such an amazing time reading this book - it was like growing up at our house all over again. People just don't teach these skills and wisdoms anymore, and it's a shame. Do yourself a favour and grab this book and take its priceless lessons to heart.
Mar 10, 2011 Brad rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2011
Great concept, but it was hard to believe that some of the "advice" was coming from the grandfathers. For instance, I find it hard to believe that these grandfathers know enough about Lady Gaga to make a joke about her.
May 14, 2013 Robert rated it liked it
A fun book full of hints and tips from old dudes. Most of these you probably already know, but the author does a good job of presenting the material and it's wicked easy reading. It's basically Hints From Him-oeae.
Sep 20, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
This was a fun collection of all the handy old-fashioned how-tos you need to live a happy and productive life. Well, maybe not all. *grin* But it was a really nice read, the stories were interesting, and I did actually learn some stuff.
Oct 07, 2011 Brett rated it it was ok
This was a little gift from my Aunt-in-law that I read on the can. Not much of real value advice-wise here and Bried is more interested in making tons of little jokes than giving useful info, but it made me feel smart to say "no duh" to most of the stuff in the book.
Nov 13, 2011 Bfg1971 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was very similar to "Man Up!: 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy" and honestly if you are over 25 there is no reason for you to not know 80% of the things in this book before reading it.

I did enjoy that the advice was dispensed by grandfathers which gave it a more personal feel.
Jul 22, 2016 Jeanette rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Another book I found to be a great idea badly executed.
The idea and content of this book was intriguing to me, but the writing was flat, the information simplistic.
Feb 28, 2011 Terrance rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. I knew much of the things, my dad had taught them to me. I am sure my sons know much of this book also from their grandfathers. I think the book is very practical advice
Apr 26, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it
This a book that every young man should get once they are out on their own. Much of it is common sense, however, that tends to be somewhat rare these days.
Dec 26, 2010 Josh rated it liked it
A quick read with a writing style that often detracts from the theme of the book. I could have lived without reading it, but I will keep my copy around for occasional reference.
Nathan Hetrick
Jul 13, 2012 Nathan Hetrick rated it it was amazing
Lots of good tips and written in an easily accessible style. Chances are you already know how to do at least a few of the things listed in the book.
Dec 18, 2011 Lindsey rated it really liked it
If ever there was a book that was the manual of how to be a man, this is it. If I ever have boys, this is a book I will definitely purchase for them.
Apr 03, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok
Great idea, mediocre execution. None of the advice was very original or special. I suspect though, that the author had a great time researching for this book.
Eric Nixon
Oct 30, 2012 Eric Nixon rated it it was amazing
Very handy stuff! This book is full of crazy useful information and the author is pretty funny to boot. I discovered this after reading her other book, How To Sew A Button.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
  • Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive
  • Niubi!: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School
  • Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions
  • 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive
  • mental floss presents Instant Knowledge (Collins Gem)
  • How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times
  • Country Living Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life
  • Dare to Repair: A Do-it-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home
  • DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle
  • Anonyponymous: The Forgotten People behind Everyday Words
  • I Never Knew There Was a Word For It
  • The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Man Skills
  • Home Economics: Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st-Century Household
  • Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living
  • Don't Be That Guy: A Collection of 60 Annoying Guys We All Know and Wish We Didn't
  • From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books
  • Wear This, Toss That!: Hundreds of Fashion and Beauty Swaps That Save Your Looks, Save Your Budget, and Save You Time
  • When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance & Planetary Survival

Share This Book