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The Way Things Work

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  2,342 ratings  ·  109 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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4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,342 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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May 10, 2007 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 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)
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely love this book! An all-time favourite! The illustrations and the mammoths in the book make it quite interesting and fun, not only for children, but for grown-ups too. Books like these make learning so much fun!
Richard Whitehurst
Jun 02, 2010 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.
Jul 31, 2014 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.
Jan 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
OMG yuck. Millions purchased, dozens read.
Otis Chandler
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
One of my favorite books as a kid!
It took me eight months to read this book, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it was very interesting to me. I spent a long time poring over some of the drawings making sure I really understood how and why the item worked the way it did, and since the book covers about 200 different machines, it took a while. I'd read bits and pieces of it back in grade school when we covered simple machines in science class, but I'd never read it start to finish. A few of the machines are dated sinc ...more
Sterling Teaches
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fun way to better understand how things work around us. I teach technology education and so many of the concepts that I teach are found in this book, but are presented in a playful way that makes even the abstinent reader curious about how the technology works. The book is well researched. I recently discovered it and look forward to reading the more current version The way things work now.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy, nonfiction
So this review may be 11 years late, but this book is the reason I became an engineer. And I credit it for much of my early development. If you want your kid to grow up with a scientific curiosity, just leave this lying around the house for them to accidentally pick up
Joe D'Alesio
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The way this book works: you read it, your brother then takes it from you, you forget how submarines work and can’t impress any of your friends with all that submarine knowledge you thought you knew.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love it, it was what got me into science and mechanics initially.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great manual for curious minds... and everything!
Tùng Trần
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Một cách tiếp cận khoa học mới mẻ và thú vị thông qua cách kể chuyện sáng tạo và hài hước, tương đối dễ hiểu kể cả những người không chuyên về máy móc kỹ thuật
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
읽지 않은 어린이, 발명과 특허를 논하지 말라.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If the explanations don’t do it for you, the illustrations will. The funniest reference book on my shelf.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The inner workings af all things. With mammoths. Priceless.
Will Todd
Nov 03, 2011 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
Elizabeth S
Jan 26, 2009 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
Kelly Ramsey
Feb 21, 2014 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
May 31, 2013 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
Julie Barrett
Nov 26, 2014 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
Jul 28, 2010 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.
Sep 16, 2016 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 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.
Oct 21, 2014 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.
Oct 05, 2013 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.
Jan 10, 2013 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.
Feb 04, 2010 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).
Sophia Ungar
Dec 31, 2013 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
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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