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The Way Things Work

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,558 ratings  ·  118 reviews
From levers to lasers, from cameras to computers, this volume is a remarkable overview of the machines and inventions that shape our lives, amusingly presented with a large dose of Macaulay's wit and personality. Full-color illustrations. ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 1st 1988
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,558 ratings  ·  118 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?
Otis Chandler
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
One of my favorite books as a kid!
Baal Of
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noodles
A fun and informative presentation of exactly what the title says. The illustrations are well-done, and the touches of humor with the mammoths is engaging and cute. I grabbed this book from one of my friends who was trying to clear out some shelves, and now I intend to pass this on to someone else who might enjoy it. I think it would be of interest to precocious kids of preteen through early teenage years, maybe as young as 6 or 7. I know I would have loved it when I was in early grade school. I ...more
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) ...more
Philip of Macedon
This is such a cool book. My parents had it when I was a kid and I read it over and over again, and even after having read it a handful of times I returned to it often to page through it and look at the pictures. My parents even donated a half dozen or so copies of this book to my 4th or 5th grade classroom, or maybe it was to our school library. I can't remember, I just remember them doing this and the teachers loving them for it. I have to assume many students have received a boost in their ed ...more
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. ...more
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.
Mar 27, 2021 rated it liked it
I expected something better. Macaulay's illustrations are well crafted and occasionally humorous, but the accompanying text is sometimes excessively complex or jargon laden. I'm not really sure who his intended audience is, and that may be the problem. I expect something like this to appeal to a tween to YA looking for inspiration about how the engineered world works, or I expect it to appeal to an adult who appreciates a youthful approach.
Within the first few pages I immediately felt that the
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
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great idea for a book, not-up-to-expectation execution. Even my science-savvy 12 years old sister couldn't pay attention for more than 10 minutes into the book. Apart from the very much lively illustration (which is the best thing about the book), it didn't teach the children much about anything nor being thought-provoking. Trying not to be rude but I wish had written this book.

However, this could be a great gift for children. I rmb seeing my sister's eyes glowing receiving this bo
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.
Stacy Houghton
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the Way Things Work, Macaulay depicts many machines and tools and gives explanations of how they work and how to use them. It is separated into sections of movement, elements, light and sound waves, and electricity and automation. I give this five stars because it is a very simple starter book for children, and even adults.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, to-buy
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
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great manual for curious minds... and everything!
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.
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.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love it, it was what got me into science and mechanics initially.
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Well done. Educational. Also, kids laugh about the cartoon mammoths. This book has it all.
Karen Davis
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book!
Sam Weigert
A book on literally how things work. Very informational with great pictures and descriptions.
Bryce Decker
This book breaks down every day things and shows how each little part works.
Doris Raines
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
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
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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

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