Ask Prolly: What’s the Last Book You’ve Read? Aug 16, 2010

One of my more recent Ask Prolly emails was pretty straight forward and slightly off-topic:

“Hey Prolly, what’s the last book you’ve read? Any recommendations? It doesn’t have to be bike related”

To be honest, I don’t read as much as I’d like to. It’s kinda hard for me to find time to sit around with my nose in a book. Earlier this summer I picked up a book entitled Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford. It’s been on the NY Time’s best seller list and its published, Penguin was kind enough to send one my way out of the blue. It took me a little while to get around to reading it but with the recent time I spent on planes and vegging out on the beach, I managed to finish it quickly.

Crawford’s premise is that with the dissolution of shop classes in high schools, our generation has been raised to be technologically savvy and in the process we’ve lost touch with the soulcraft of making things. He goes on to relate the recent economic decline and job losses to the boom in “blue collar” job openings, which usually pay much better than the “desk job / tech” counterparts. It’s an excellent read and as someone who went to grade school without the use of computers, I can really identify with that he’s saying. So if you’re looking for a book to read this summer, pick it up at your local shop!

  • b. taylor

    LOVE this book. For real. Especially after being jail-broke from an (almost) career long office job at Viacom. The bike geek (or nerd) in me actually rides to places outside of the city just so I can read. At least this summer.

  • prolly

    Awesome man.

  • Duff

    I really like the fact that he acknowledges the cerebral nature of diagnostic problem solving, but after 6 years as a race car mechanic I gave up and went back to school. Working with your hands doesn’t pay the bills, unless you are a published phd with an occasional New York Times column, like Crawford.

  • Gener

    ***Thought the book was over written and guy tried too hard to show how really smart he was. Myself, Bard College Pol Sci major and newspaper reporter first, then carpenter for the past
    40 years. Money, so so, but been independent and
    always dealing with technical challenges no
    school can teach. If you don’t get smarter as you
    get older, you do get a lot more confidant.

  • nick

    i would buy it for the sick motorcycle on the cover. im a sucker for killer covers.

  • James

    Crawford’s book grew out of his earlier essay by the same name, which you can check out here. It’s a good way to get a sense of Crawford’s point, and whether you’re going to be interested in reading the whole book.


    Nice book. I read it last year when I stopped practicing as an architect in NYC and moved to rural PA to train as a chef and invest more time riding / working on my motorcycle. The book and the experience gave me a new found respect for manual engagement.