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Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  942 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Cool Tools is a highly curated selection of the best tools available for individuals and small groups. Tools include hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites — and anything useful.

Tools are selected and presented in the book if they are the best of kind, the cheapest, or the only thing available that will do the job. This is
Paperback, 472 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by Cool Tools Lab (first published October 1st 2003)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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Mario the lone bookwolf
That truly escalated slowly, million of years just stones and wood and the one or other obsidian knife and then, bang, human creativity explodes and is accelerating more and more towards a disruptive equilibrium.

Kelly shows a kind of technical, cultural evolution, history encyclopedia, a survival guide for if the world doesn´t completely break down, but one has still functioning equipment she/he should know how to use. Even if the apocalypse is perfect and nothing functions anymore, there are s
Nov 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: _reviewed
Plus: Lots of fun if you are into tools and gadgets, especially if you have a wide range of interests. Recommendations were mostly right on for topics I had researched myself at some point, and I found some good suggestions for things I had planned to look into eventually. Minus: This information is on the Internet. Does it really merit a print book? Yes, the layout is nice and it makes for a nice coffee table book, but something similarly useful could be done online and not be outdated in a sec ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An entertaining collection of amazing and useful tools for everyday (and not) use. I learned so much from reading about these items and my next amazon order is going to make a heavy dent in my bank balance.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Moved to> ...more
Lee Kuiper
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is truly unique.

At first I assumed it was a glorified catalog but slowly realized it's actually a rare instantiation of Stuart Kauffman's idea of expanding "the adjacent possible" (or at least my, admittedly, rudimentary concept of it); so many unique tools alongside creative ways to think about using those tools to expand into new, adjacent yet unexplored possibilities.

I was surprised how easily I lost myself in it.

An "expansive" book:
Approach this book ruminatively and you may find
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is without a doubt the best gift you could ever give a curious, maker minded young friend, neighbour, niece or nephew of all ages.Get a copy yourself too though or you'll stay for ever jealous. Leave it out on your coffee table am no guest will be able to stop browsing. ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun for reading on vacation. Inspired many thoughts.
Dariusz Stochmal
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quirky catalogue of many things.
Sachin Gaikwad
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing collection of tools.

You just cannot miss the varied possibilities that it unfurls. Perfect bite sized reviews of cool tools. Must have book in your library.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the coolest books ever. It has tools for everything. AND. I. MEAN. EVERYTHING!
Shafiullah Khan
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Everyone to go for it.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing

For over ten years, Kevin Kelly (a co-founder of Wired and an editor of the Whole Earth Catalog) has been publishing recommendations of useful tools on his website, Using the Whole Earth Catalog as an inspiration, Kevin has collected over 1,500 reviews from his website into a full-color, massively oversized, 472 page catalog of how-to information of immense interest to makers. Kevin’s definition of a tool includes anything that helps you
Reading Reader
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A unique and enjoyable book, despite its many typos and errors.

In the spirit of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, Kevin Kelly has produced this great guide to all sorts of things you never knew you needed. It's a big hefty book, full of people's recommendations for gadgets, books, services, websites, and more -- each one something that the person considers a 'cool tool'. In some cases, the recommendations are for one particular brand or design of a common device; of all the _____ out there, t
Adam Czarnecki
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's hard to describe what this book actually is. It is presented like a catalog of random things, but as the introduction says, it's less of a collection of product reviews but more of a tool itself. The goal of the book is to get you thinking about stuff in new ways by making you aware of tools you might not even know exist.

Tools, here, are not defined as something you find in the garage (although they can be). Rather, tools are "anything that can be useful." So while I did put a few gadgets o
Jasper Burns
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life, science
I went into this book after hearing Kevin Kelly mention it on a Tim Ferriss podcast. I have been interested in construction and was hoping to be introduced to some interesting tools. Well, I got that and so much more. The book is dauntingly long, with tools, gadgets, or gizmos for almost every part of life.

I would not really recommend reading it cover to cover as I did, it is much better as a reference for a certain type of project you might embark on—read the Table of Contents. Additionally, so
Norman Metzger
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
What you will not find here are reviews of computers, routers, smart phone, and the like; after all, you have CU,CNET, Lifehacker, etc. for that. What you will find here are well written and certainly always knowledgeable and experiential reviews of pens, mouse traps, good weather sealants, LED bulbs and much more; after all, this large and heavy volume -- don't read in bed even if you could, since if you fall asleep it will crush you -- almost joyfully takes pleasure in telling you about the it ...more
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great resource for the curious mind in 2014! I have many areas of interest and this book covers many of them. I found especially useful the recommendations for practical day-to-day tools, for example the recommended ergonomic computer mouse and keyboard.

I also enjoyed reading about recommended books for personal finance, vagabonding, games for kids etc.

I borrowed this 4.5 lb book from the library-it was quite the tome to lug home-worth it!

I took off a star because of the New Age lean
Richard M
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like the "Whole Earth Catalog" came back to life, only more techy and more attuned to what real people are likely to want or need to do. Both that book and this one serve a dual purpose, at least for me-- they're tools, specifically tools to find other tools, and they're dream machines. If you know you want something (a thing, an experience, a goal, or just to know what you really want), "Cool Tools" provides thousands of prompts that may help. I'm still browsing it and expect to do so for ...more
Clearview Library District
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to have lying out on your kitchen table or coffee table, especially if you are an unschooler. "Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities" is a book packed with interesting tools used in a wide variety of fields. The pages are filled with conversation starters, introductions to new interests, and a great way to find unexpected interests your children have. Just leave it out and let your children leisurely flip through the pages and see what they discover! Or read it yourself and ...more
Amar Pai
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?

A lot of people I know would love this book.

Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a BIG book full of reviews of "tools" of every sort including online items. Lots of pictures, heavy paper, I think it weighs about 4 lbs. Reviews by the author as well as experts in relevant fields. I brought it home because I thought it was cool but I haven't really had a chance to look at it because my husband and teenage son have been poring through it. It's sort of like a giant catalog of everything you'd ever need or didn't know you needed. Probably a perfect gift for anyone who lik ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is insane. It's a massive catalogue of the coolest tools on Earth for hundreds of different categories. I went through this from cover to cover and managed to find some great tools that would be helpful for me right now but also saw tons of things that could be interesting to use / try sometime in the future. What I really like about this book is that it opens your eyes to the enormous number of different possible things that humans could be doing with their time. The trick isn't to do ...more
João Rocha
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
You don´t really read this. You browse it, realising that Kevin Kelly is probably the most interesting person alive. At least one of the most interested, if you like puns. EVERYTHING is here. I love how-tos and while this is not an how-to book, it is full of places to start new projects or explorations. Keep it around and check it out everynow and then. A printed book is probably not the best format for this information, but this is not about finding info when you need it. It´s about finding it ...more
Koen Crolla
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sincere effort, but the fact that it was self-published shows in the crowded and occasionally confusing layout, the wildly varying picture quality, and the text itself. Most of the things you'd expect to find in a book like this are in it (including three separate models of Leatherman), as well as, as you might also expect, a whole lot of chaff.
Still, it will undoubtedly have a few solid suggestions that will be new to you, and it's nice to browse through when you're bored, though its size makes
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Greg Linster
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book contains tools and tips for (almost) any endeavor a maker or adventurer may want to pursue. It makes for a very intriguing coffee table book and is fun to flip through for generating inspiration on new projects. The one thing I was disappointed to find is that there is no tool listed for cutting glass to make candles, which is something I’m interested in doing. If you have a recommendation for a glass cutter, please let me know.
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Do you need to know where to get transparent concrete, Amish tools, color-changing LEDS, Japanese woodworking tools and so much more? Neither do I! But that didn't stop me from putting so many bookmarks in this fascinating book that it ended up looking like a hedgehog. Modeled on the old Whole Earth catalog, this book lists favorites recommended by users from all over the world. From the most obscure to the most common, if you need to make something, there's a tool for it in here. ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Heard about this book on the Adam Savage podcast a few weeks ago and I'm glad I did.

This (giant) book is an excellent catalog of tools I never knew existed or that I needed. It covers everything from familiar "maker" topics like 3D printing and soldering to how to build an igloo and the best ways to structure a PowerPoint.

This is really a great resource for nearly anything. Very happy I have a copy on my shelf, High recommended.
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! By page 25 I wanted to buy everything, haha. A huge trove of reviews and resources, with bonus sections that highlighted other review sites and shopping resources. Probably the best usage of qr codes I've seen. Oh and take note of the quotes on the bottom of each page - maker food for thought! ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a worthy successor to Whole Earth Review which I loved to read back in 1968. Made up of reviews of more than a thousand tools, books and software. You can learn how to put on a house concert, grow edible mushrooms, learn to swim efficiently, or how to heat your house with wood. And so much more... A book that I can get lost in for hours. A great reference book for everyone.
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Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hack ...more

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