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The New Way Things Work

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,812 ratings  ·  63 reviews
The information age is upon us, baffling us with thousands of complicated state-of-the-art technologies. To help make sense of the computer age, David Macaulay brings us The New Way Things Work. This completely updated and expanded edition describes twelve new machines and includes more than seventy new pages detailing the latest innovations. With an entirely new section t ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 26th 1998 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1998)
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Showing 1-30
4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,812 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Amar Pai
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it
The drawings are too messy. It's nice that this book is organized by principle of operation (lever, pulley, etc.) rather than function. But the illustrations don't really illustrate things very well-- especially for machines where you need to visualize all 3 dimensions.

Whatever happened to electronic paper? This book would be awesome if the diagrams were all animated. Sure you could go to a web site, but resolution/portability are so much better with a real book. You can't read the internet in t
My parents got me this book when I was a kid for Christmas. I still have it on my shelf, and it's still actually a really good, really informative reference book. Like any other David Macaulay book, it's fully illustrated (another Caldecott winner I believe) and fun to just look at. The texts read fairly clearly as well, and it outlines everything from the simple tools (wedges, inlined planes, levers, and wheels) to the insanely complex (Solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle and nuclear po ...more
Ramu Vairavan
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book more for readers (of all ages) who are interested in the science behind machines. If technology and machines are not your definition of fun, you might just discover a new interest after reading this. Usually, books that explore how things work are intense and the reader is at risk of information overload. In this book though, a parallel theme featuring comical adventures of woolly mammoths helps to (ironically) lighten the weight of information.

Besides the endearing
Carolyn Page
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perfect for the budding engineer, or even if you're just curious. Everything from levers and gears to how zippers work to hydrofoils, nuclear power and technology in outer space. This is a nice thick book and is almost a graphic in how many illustrations it has. Sure some of the computer and space technology they cover may be outdated now, but because the book is mostly principle-based, working everything back to the basic components, it's still useful.
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a neat book explaining all that high and "techy" stuff which can be so hard to comprehend---until now. The Author and Illustrator, David Macaulay, really did a great job on this. It seems as if it's a long book (400 pgs.) but there so many illustrations it actually isn't too lengthy, and trust me, even if you're like me and aren't "techy", this book is not boring at all. Very enjoyable and a great way to introduce children to the Way Things Work!
Carson Ford
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Covering everything from the wheel to nuclear fission, this book gives descriptive yet concise summaries of how things work. Instead of organizing inventions chronologically or by complexity, the book is divided based on the components used in an item; for instance, the plow and the zipper are grouped together as they both employ wedges. The illustrations may be my favorite part of the book as they clearly depict even the most intricate devices with small touches of humor scattered throughout.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is a great reference book. I enjoyed how the concepts were organized and built upon each other. The mammoth mascot is so cute! The age of the Internet and its wealth of frequently updated information may make books like these somewhat out of date. Still, I recommend this resource to teachers looking to stock their classrooms, school and public libraries, and young readers interested in mechanical topics.
Julia B.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book recently, and it was pretty good. I learned a lot about how things work, in a fun way. The illustrations are good, and they teach stuff in a fun way. The drawings with mammoths and the simple machines made me laugh, and the long reading sections were interesting to read as they were partly fictional.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very helpful guild to many of my questions and many science projects. It has detailed illustrations and is surprisingly interesting. The new way things work explains a lot of things about our daily lives and is very informative.
Ethan Hulbert
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The mammoths make this book at first. But really, the amazingly simple yet thorough explanations on how everything around us works truly make the book. It's so fun you don't even realize how much you're really learning.

My favorite part is Bill's gates.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most complete beginners guide to physics used in everyday life that is accessible and entertaining enough to read as a bedtime story for primary age kids. Not too basic for middle years- a thorough course with excellent pictures for concepts.
Jen's  Unique Reads
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My sons love these books. It's a great way to get them into nonfiction.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Glad to know these are out there to 'splain things to us.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Describes many basic items we have in our life and explains how they work. Helpful and good to know
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lots of information. I like how illustrations accompany the text to help explain how things work. Great for kids wanting to know about science and engineering.

Part 1 - The Mechanics of Movement
Part 2 - Harnessing the Elements
Part 3 - Working with Waves
Part 4 - Electricity & Automation
Part 5 - The Digital Domain
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is THE COOLEST. Good for children or adults or literally anyone (including woolly mammoths.) Also there is a NEW new one out? It's probably amazing too.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You can learn a lot of really cool things from non-fiction books. Non-fiction is fact based and should be unbiased but isn’t always. It could include cross section books, true stories, informational books or how to’s. The subjects could be historical events, science, geography and culture or interesting facts. Do you know how a photocopier works? The New Way Things Work, by David Macaulay is about going behind the scenes of very simple to very complex mechanics and science. The book is about how ...more
Connor Foster-Nesbit
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technoligy
fun but why mamoths? fuled with outdated detail, still a good read for someone interested in how things work.
Rowan Stewart
The New Way Things Work, David Macaulay's updated edition of The Way Things Work explains many advances in science and technology. With the addition of the dim-witted wally mammoth, Macaulay explains very intricate concepts fairly simply.

David Macaulay’s The New Way Things Work is a comprehensive encyclopedia of technological advancements from locks and keys and can openers, to hydraulic presses and microchips. The book is broken down into chapters by technology: the wheel and axle, pulleys, sp
Lisa Campbell
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book- Picture book, Young Adult, Nonfiction
Estimate of grade level of interest -8th grade and up  
Estimate of reading level- 12year and up
Brief description-Local author, David MacCaulay, has updated his illustrated reference book on the world of machines. Highly detailed pictures of machines, are interspersed with whimsical Mammoths that help illustrate the purposes inherent in the machine/concept being discussed!
Identify at least 2 characteris
Jb O'pry
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. It is fun and informative. The book has these funny stories with mammoths and how things were discovered. There was even a cartoon on this book. This book starts with the simplest stuff, like gears and screws, then goes to the most complicated things like how a computer processes information. You can start reading this book not knowing how things work at all and finish this book knowing how everything works. You feel kind of smart after you ...more
Chester Richmond
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: informational
Macaulay outdoes himself in this massive compilation that covers the broad subjects of mechanics of movement, harnessing the elements, working with waves, electricity and automation, the digital domain, and the invention of machines. Each section could become the centerpiece to a plethora of lessons. Detailed description and illustration of how wheels and axels work in different inventions could teach your students foundational knowledge that could be applied to an abundance of subjects at a lat ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This book is AWESOME! As a Technology Teacher, I use this as well as the previously released way things work to create assignments. Wonderful resources that kids will spend entire class periods looking through. I call it an engineer's (and a teacher's) dream book - as it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)...From toilets, to nuclear warheads.
Ben Eggleston
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazingly comprehensive introduction to the workings of hundreds of machines, from levers to televisions. As with most of Macaulay's books, brief texts are accompanied by informal but detailed sketches that are both informative and fun to look at. This book is great for browsing or as a reference book.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, nonfiction
A fantastic compilation with lots of diagrams and relatively basic information on how things work. While explained in a basic way, some concepts are complex. This is a book for someone with a natural engineering mind who likes building things, or a science teacher. A wide array of gizmos and machines (quite extensive) and how they work.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oh boy, a book you can pore over and over and over! My kids ate this book up, and went and did some research on their own after reading parts of it. It's a great book, and the mammoth cartoons added character. I checked to make sure my kids took the mammoth with a grain of salt, and they just rolled their eyes at me, so that wasn't a problem.
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’ll be honest, I didn’t read every entry in this book. But that is because the breadth of the information is simply amazing. Colorful, vibrant, and humorous even, it really is the perfect book to leave sitting in a classroom for a curious reader.
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The curious.
Shelves: reference, science
Stop. Put down your phone. Don't call the library to ask how that toaster works. Check with this book first. Satiate your curiosity. Feel empowered. Be amused at the witty illustrations. Breathe. Feel relaxed. Put down the phone.

Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspended, read-2015, gift
Perused before giving as a gift. We heard Macaulay speak at a Book Fair in Vermont this fall. Fascinating to hear him describe the creation process for these amazing books. The "little" Mammoth is a fun guide through the pages.
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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