89 books like The New Fine Points of Furniture

By Albert Sack,

Here are 89 books that The New Fine Points of Furniture fans have personally recommended if you like The New Fine Points of Furniture. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight Into Beauty

Strother Purdy Author Of Doormaking: Materials, Techniques, and Projects for Building Your First Door

From my list on on working with your hands.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I worked on cars and motorcycles in my spare time while apprenticing in an architectural millwork shop, paneling the homes of the rich and famous. Thus I discovered the great joys and satisfactions of working with my hands. After a long stint in graduate school, then four years as an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine and for Taunton Press books, I opened a custom design furniture business in 2000. Travel, writing, and reading are aligned passions, and I’ve lived, taught English, and woodworking here and abroad in France, Slovakia, India, and Japan.

Strother's book list on on working with your hands

Strother Purdy Why did Strother love this book?

They say that travel opens the mind in ways that staying home doesn’t. Books can take you places you can’t otherwise go. So with Yanagi, I got to visit the mind of an early 20th-century Japanese craft connoisseur who looked at thousand-year-old (plain and unassuming) tea bowls and wondered why they’re utterly beautiful and treasured (the best fetch huge sums at auctions–$25million recently for one). Yanagi’s exploration of how the hands of craftsmen can unknowingly and unintentionally create objects of great beauty was both fascinating as it was challenging. It made my shop work a hundred times more enjoyable.

By Soetsu Yanagi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Unknown Craftsman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

craftsman working in a set tradition for a lifetime? What is the value of handwork? Why should even the roughly lacquered rice bowl of a Japanese farmer be thought beautiful? The late Soetsu Yanagi was the first to fully explore the traditional Japanese appreciation for objects born, not made.' Mr. Yanagi sees folk art as a manifestation of the essential world from which art, philosophy, and religion arise and in which the barriers between them disappear. The implications of the author's ideas are both far-reaching and practical. Soetsu Yanagi is often'


Book cover of How to Carve Wood: A Book of Projects and Techniques

Strother Purdy Author Of Doormaking: Materials, Techniques, and Projects for Building Your First Door

From my list on on working with your hands.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I worked on cars and motorcycles in my spare time while apprenticing in an architectural millwork shop, paneling the homes of the rich and famous. Thus I discovered the great joys and satisfactions of working with my hands. After a long stint in graduate school, then four years as an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine and for Taunton Press books, I opened a custom design furniture business in 2000. Travel, writing, and reading are aligned passions, and I’ve lived, taught English, and woodworking here and abroad in France, Slovakia, India, and Japan.

Strother's book list on on working with your hands

Strother Purdy Why did Strother love this book?

This unassuming book opened up a world of enjoyable handwork, craftsmanship, and satisfying fun for me. I first wanted to learn how to incise letters. Butz writes clearly, his photos show what I needed to see, and I didn’t have to figure out anything much on my own. It was everything a how-to book should be. Thanks, Rick. Then I wanted to take a stab at an acanthus leaf. He covered it just as well. I’ve not yet gotten to the whittling or wildlife sections, but I will one day, and this little book sits on my shelf to help, never to be given away.

By Richard Butz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Carve Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Including scale patterns for each project and a gallery at the end of each chapter, this book provides information on whittling, chip-carving, wildlife carving, relief carving, lettering and architectual carving.


Book cover of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

Rebecca Struthers Author Of Hands of Time: A Watchmaker's History

From my list on for people who love taking things apart.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how things work. What started with me pulling apart redundant household tech as a child (thanks to my very supportive parents) has become a lifelong passion in making and restoring one of the most incredible machines invented – the watch. Our millennia-old obsession with making things tells us so much about who we are and the world we like in. I love all of these books as, in varied ways, they inspire curiosity and connect us with our innately human instinct to understand the world around us.

Rebecca's book list on for people who love taking things apart

Rebecca Struthers Why did Rebecca love this book?

Shop Class as Soulcraft is a very special book to me, because it’s the first one I read over 10 years ago that managed to perfectly weave between the philosophy and practice of craft. It was that moment of “wow, I want to be able to write like this!”

Too often, craft is studied by academics or theorists, while the craftspeople getting their hands dirty rarely write about what they do. This book so perfectly balances between the two, it’s an ode to making, with the passion for working with your hands oozing from every page in such a brilliantly funny and engaging way.

By Matthew B. Crawford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shop Class as Soulcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A philosopher/mechanic's wise (and sometimes funny) look at the challenges and pleasures of working with one's hands 

“This is a deep exploration of craftsmanship by someone with real, hands-on knowledge. The book is also quirky, surprising, and sometimes quite moving.” —Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman

Called “the sleeper hit of the publishing season” by The Boston Globe, Shop Class as Soulcraft became an instant bestseller, attracting readers with its radical (and timely) reappraisal of the merits of skilled manual labor. On both economic and psychological grounds, author Matthew B. Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a…


Book cover of Make A Chair From A Tree: An Introduction To Working Green Wood

Strother Purdy Author Of Doormaking: Materials, Techniques, and Projects for Building Your First Door

From my list on on working with your hands.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I worked on cars and motorcycles in my spare time while apprenticing in an architectural millwork shop, paneling the homes of the rich and famous. Thus I discovered the great joys and satisfactions of working with my hands. After a long stint in graduate school, then four years as an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine and for Taunton Press books, I opened a custom design furniture business in 2000. Travel, writing, and reading are aligned passions, and I’ve lived, taught English, and woodworking here and abroad in France, Slovakia, India, and Japan.

Strother's book list on on working with your hands

Strother Purdy Why did Strother love this book?

There are more comprehensive and detailed books on green woodworking, but none with Alexander’s unedited, liberating spirit, or his pioneering work. Lines such as “You need very few tools to go into the woods and bust a chair out of a tree” gave me a kind of permission to be bold, experiment, and just have fun (which is what he did, and is where the book comes from). You’ll learn how to make chairs (chairs!) with a small set of tools. You’ll likely put the book down before finishing it, and run into the woods to get started.

By John D. Alexander Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make A Chair From A Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a tree is felled, the wood is green and is easy to cut, split, shave and shape. As it dries, the wood shrinks and hardensQand it becomes vastly more difficult to work. In the old days, wood-workers relied on the ease with which green wood could be worked to make the parts they needed, and on the way wood shrinks to hold these parts together. These old ways have almost been lost, but are revived here for the modern woodworker. Make a Chair From a Tree is a lively and informative introduction to the old ways of splitting and…


Book cover of Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales

Kathleen McDonnell Author Of Growing Old, Going Cold: Notes on Swimming, Aging, and Finishing Last

From my list on swimming for people who aren’t competitive swimmers.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my life I’ve been both a writer and a swimmer. I’ve engaged in both activities for many decades, but I’ve always kept the two entirely separate. Write about swimming? Why? What would I say? What was there to say about water and the act of moving through it? It seemed to me that it was a case of “you have to be there,” that writing about swimming would be too removed from the immediacy, the tactility, the floating state of mind. It was only when I discovered works by some truly great writers that I began to see that I could write about my own love of being in water, and how I might go about it.

Kathleen's book list on swimming for people who aren’t competitive swimmers

Kathleen McDonnell Why did Kathleen love this book?

Everyone knows who the late Oliver Sacks is, and his extraordinary books have been read by millions. But not many know about Sacks’ great love of swimming, which he first wrote about in “Water Babies,” a beautiful personal essay published in The New Yorker in 1997. I had an “aha!” moment when I first read this essay, in my realization that Sacks and I were kindred water spirits, and that it was possible to write about swimming in a way that would engage readers of all stripes. 

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything in Its Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the best-selling author of Gratitude and On the Move, a final volume of essays that showcase Sacks's broad range of interests--from his passion for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's.

Oliver Sacks, scientist and storyteller, is beloved by readers for his neurological case histories and his fascination and familiarity with human behavior at its most unexpected and unfamiliar. Everything in Its Place is a celebration of Sacks's myriad interests, told with his characteristic compassion and erudition, and in his luminous prose.


Book cover of An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

John E. Dowling Author Of Understanding the Brain: From Cells to Behavior to Cognition

From my list on healthy and compromised brains.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began research as an undergraduate at Harvard College, initially studying the effects of vitamin A deficiency on the photoreceptors in the eye that capture the light and initiate vision. After receiving my PhD and starting my own laboratory, I became fascinated with the other four classes of cells/neurons found in the retina, which begin the analysis of visual information: two being in the outer retina and two in the inner retina. We mapped out the synaptic interactions among the neurons, recorded from them, and began to put together the neural circuitries that underlie the visual messages that are sent to other parts of the brain. 

John's book list on healthy and compromised brains

John E. Dowling Why did John love this book?

One of Oliver Sack’s delightful books containing stories of individuals with various neurological disorders. I read the first one, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, back in the 1980s  when it first came out and was hooked, now having read almost all of them.

The one I am recommending is, I believe, more relevant to an understanding of brain mechanisms. One criticism I have had of Sack’s books is that there is little in the way of neurobiological explanations for the conditions described. In my book, most chapters begin with a Sack-like story about a specific neurological condition that is then explained, as far as possible, neurobiologically in the chapter.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked An Anthropologist on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As with his previous bestseller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, in An Anthropologist on Mars Oliver Sacks uses case studies to illustrate the myriad ways in which neurological conditions can affect our sense of self, our experience of the world, and how we relate to those around us.

Writing with his trademark blend of scientific rigour and human compassion, he describes patients such as the colour-blind painter or the surgeon with compulsive tics that disappear in the operating theatre; patients for whom disorientation and alienation - but also adaptation - are inescapable facts of life.

'An…


Book cover of Awakenings

Hannah Wunsch Author Of The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care

From my list on medical history that reads like fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a critical care doctor, I love pausing when taking care of patients in a modern ICU to reflect on how far we’ve come in the care we can provide. I want to be entertained while learning about the past, and so I seek out books on medical history that find the wonder and the beauty (and the bizarre and chilling) and make it come alive. I get excited when medical history can be shared in a way that isn’t dry, or academic. These books all do that for me and capture some part of that crazy journey through time. 

Hannah's book list on medical history that reads like fiction

Hannah Wunsch Why did Hannah love this book?

Awakenings is the novel-length true story of the patients comatose for decades from sleeping-sickness, a disease that reared its head in the 1920s and then died out.

I consider Oliver Sacks the master storyteller of medical mysteries, and he kept me completely riveted with his descriptions of watching these patients wake up when given the drug L-Dopa, re-entering the world after many decades. The story gives me chills every time I think about it.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Awakenings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The story of a disease that plunged its victims into a prison of viscous time, and the drug that catapulted them out of it' - Guardian

Hailed as a medical classic, and the subject of a major feature film as well as radio and stage plays and various TV documentaries, Awakenings by Oliver Sacks is the extraordinary account of a group of twenty patients.

Rendered catatonic by the sleeping-sickness epidemic that swept the world just after the First World War, all twenty had spent forty years in hospital: motionless and speechless; aware of the world around them, but exhibiting no…


Book cover of Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Religicide: Confronting the Roots of Anti-Religious Violence

From my list on human rights that focus on religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

Between us, we’ve been in the interreligious relations business for a combined 50 years. We started working together when Jerry was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. In 2015, we were both invited by Prince Ghazi of Jordan to join other interreligious leaders to advance a UN resolution defining and taking a stand against religicide. That resolution never made it to the Security Council. But we joined forces to sound the alarm about religicide. We wrote our book in the hope of inspiring an international campaign to end this killing in the name of God – or being killed because of your God.   

Georgette's book list on human rights that focus on religion

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

The late Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. This was one of the last books he wrote before his death. He makes the case that religion is not only the cause of violence but also part of the solution to violence. In each chapter, he deeply analyzes a different religious text and evinces eye-opening interpretations. Perhaps most prescient are his notions of “altruistic evil” and “pathological dualism.” Pathological dualism operates in three ways: first, it dehumanizes and demonizes your enemies; second, it portrays the perpetrator as the victim; and third, it leads the perpetrator to commit altruistic evil—killing others as a perceived favor to humanity. As Sacks so movingly asserts, “When religion turns men into murderers, God weeps.”

By Jonathan Sacks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not in God's Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite predictions of continuing secularisation, the twenty-first century has witnessed a surge of religious extremism and violence in the name of God.

In this powerful and timely book, Jonathan Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, focusing on the historic tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks then challenges…


Book cover of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

Dean-David Schillinger MD Author Of Telltale Hearts: A Public Health Doctor, His Patients, and the Power of Story

From my list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a primary care doctor who is fascinated by my patient’s stories and what they reveal about their lives, their illnesses, and their pathways to recovery. I have always been a lover of literature related to the human condition and “the big questions,” having majored in Russian Language and Literature as an undergraduate. All the books I have chosen were written by physicians who were accomplished not only in the sciences but in the arts. I hope you enjoy this hybridization of disciplines as much as I have!

Dean-David's book list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity

Dean-David Schillinger MD Why did Dean-David love this book?

I was simply stunned by this book. Dr. Sacks, a neurologist, drew me into the inner mysteries of the brain by describing the amazing lives and characters of some his most bizarrely afflicted patients. I was delighted to see how some of them overcame or coped with their afflictions, and I finished the book with an indescribable feeling of the magical alchemy of science and story to reveal our deepest truths.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.

In this extraordinary book, Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities, and yet are gifted with…


Book cover of Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

Mona Simpson Author Of Commitment

From my list on books that tell a story of life with mental illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Mona Simpson, the author of seven novels. I grew up with a mentally ill parent who struggled to support me, her only child, as a single mother. I saw firsthand the toll living in the world cost her. One of my first experiences of adulthood was a sense of relief in discovering that staying above water was manageable, even easy. Walking home from my first real job, seeing all the other people’s backs and legs hurry ahead of me, I liked being one of the many. I wondered if my mother could have ever felt that ease if there had been an alternative.

Mona's book list on books that tell a story of life with mental illness

Mona Simpson Why did Mona love this book?

Oliver Sack’s forward to this book, which was first published as The Lost Virtues of the Asylum, stopped me cold when I first read it. It was a revelation and started my mind turning. I read the piece dozens of times and then found the source materials Sacks quoted from and read those books, too.

I came of age during the era of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it was a long unwinding to begin to consider that an institution, a state institution on the order of a large mental health hospital, could do good. But I’d grown up with a mentally ill parent who struggled to survive and bring me up safely. I saw firsthand the toll our life took on her. I began to tamper with my assumption that she’d been better off in the harrying world.

The photographs by Alexander Payne are haunting.…

By Christopher Payne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Asylum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Powerful photographs of the grand exteriors and crumbling interiors of America's abandoned state mental hospitals.

For more than half the nation's history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients. The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendant Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas. Kirkbride and others believed that well-designed buildings…


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