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Why We Make Things and Why It Matters Audiobook

Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman

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Publisher's Summary

In this moving account, Peter Korn explores the nature and rewards of creative practice. We follow his search for meaning as an Ivy-educated child of the middle class who finds employment as a novice carpenter on Nantucket, transitions to self-employment as a designer and maker of fine furniture, takes a turn at teaching and administration at Colorado's Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and then founds a school in Maine: the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, an internationally respected nonprofit institution.

Furniture making practiced as a craft in the 21st century is a decidedly marginal occupation. Yet the view from the periphery can be illuminating. For Korn the challenging work of bringing something new and meaningful into the world through one's own volition - whether in the arts, the kitchen, or the marketplace - is what generates the meaning and fulfillment that so many of us seek.

This is not a how-to book in any sense. Korn wants to get at the why of craft in particular and the satisfactions of creative work in general to understand their essential nature. How does the making of objects shape our identities? How do the products of creative work inform society? In short, what does the process of making things reveal to us about ourselves? Korn draws on four decades of hands-on experience to answer these questions eloquently, and often poignantly, in this personal, introspective, and revealing book.

©2013 Peter Korn (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (365 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alan Minnetonka, MN, United States 05-17-14
    Alan Minnetonka, MN, United States 05-17-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A guide to living a fulfilling life"

    This book is rich and dense in a good way, and stands up to repeated listenings. Korn weaves together his own life story, a history of the craft movement (the only part of the book where the momentum sags a bit), and a philosophy for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. If you're anyone trying to create something--whether writer, artist, musician, craftsperson, whatever--I haven't found a deeper guide to that journey anywhere. Inspiring!

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray 06-19-14
    Ray 06-19-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Must Read"

    Well, not for everyone, but for those who are at least a little disturbed by the disposable culture we now live in, it's a must read. Not as good "Shop Class as Soulcraft" though to be fair, the author isn't trying to write the same book so perhaps it's just different.

    Easier to read than Pirsig's "Zen" and definitely more to the point, it belongs on the same as shelf as these two books as well Richard Sennett, David Pye et al.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Adams CLAREMORE, OK, US 06-24-14
    Kevin Adams CLAREMORE, OK, US 06-24-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Thoughtful and Well Written"
    What made the experience of listening to Why We Make Things and Why It Matters the most enjoyable?

    The narrator has a pleasant voice and the author's story was both interesting and insightful.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The truths about life that the story uncovers.


    What does Traber Burns bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Not sure


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction but I will listen to it again.


    Any additional comments?

    Chapter 12 is great

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 02-15-16
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 02-15-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Annoying"

    This book annoyed me.

    It would have annoyed me less if the "We" in the title was changed to the "I" that it should have been. Then I wouldn't have touched it with a bargepole.

    I make things and am going to flatter myself that this gives me at least the right to hold an opinion.

    One of the advantages that I have discovered of making things is that it brings me more into contact with other people who make things and , my experience is, that we all do it for different reasons.

    This guy appears to do it because it lets him adopt a superior view of his own importance. I do it because it lets me avoid having to deal with people who adopt a superior view of their own importance. And because I can spend all day listening to audiobooks.

    For every maker out there, there is a mix of reasons for the choice. This book, despite the "we" of the title, is interest in just one of them. And it is one of the less interesting ones.

    I didn't expect woodworking but I think I hoped for something just a bit less self centred and pompous

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosanne Font 12-16-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Making Things..."

    Mr Korn chronicles his woodworking career in biographical form while asserting the value of artistic creation & finishing the timetable with the altruistic generation of a non-profit school for furniture makers. As a dabbling woodworker myself, I enjoyed this effort of explanation of why we make things, it seemed a bit narrow in scope, solely biographical, and thus less rewarding for me, because the term "things" encompasses a much greater genre than handicraft. Perhaps I would've enjoyed it far more if the reference photos could be included as a .pdf file to the audiobook.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristel Knaus 01-07-16 Member Since 2015
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    "existential meanderings"

    My first speed read escape! Promises much, is read well, but comes off as an afternoon spent with a bombastic professor.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie 12-19-15
    Carrie 12-19-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Zen and the Art of Furniture Making"

    This book reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. More like a memoir though. Loved the journey.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich 12-18-15
    Rich 12-18-15 Member Since 2016

    Thoreau's 'Walden' and Ayn Rand's 25th anniversary introduction to 'The Fountainhead' summarize my library well.

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    "A Mix of Memoir and Philosophy"

    Master craftsman Peter Korn has lived self-determined, intentional life in which he has found value and meaning, and hopes to share his lessons with others. WWMT is at times inspiring with moving epiphanies and candid life stories, and at other times dry with the mechanics of his life and decisions. Overall, the book is easily worth the credit.

    Korn describes his two epiphanies: turning ideas into objects, and the creation of objects actually being a projection of the self he was trying to create. I actually found some of his other experiences to be enlightening: the joy he felt with the absence of want after his first bout with cancer, the difference between happiness and contentment, the importance of other people and their ideas, and the like. His narrative on the creative process changing your mental maps and yourself is interesting as well.

    I think Korn is fair with his self-criticisms, and overall a very self-reflective individual. He clearly cares about his work, be it a dining room table, woodworking school or a published book. In the end, its caring about your work that matters.

    Traber Burns is a perfect fit for this title. There should be a radio station that streams his reading of inspirational words ("integrity," "quality," "craftsmanship," etc.) 24 hours a day. Well done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Plainfield317 Indianapolis, Indiana 12-16-15
    Plainfield317 Indianapolis, Indiana 12-16-15 Member Since 2015

    50 something female, not a bibliophile by any stretch of the imagination. Don't have time to sit. I love history and biographies.

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    "Cerebral and interesting life experiences shared"

    As someone with a master's degree in human communication, much of this book reminded me of an academic lecture. I enjoyed hearing the author's life journey. Would recommend if you like deep contemplation and have an academic bent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 08-19-16
    Mark 08-19-16
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    "Wrong Title"

    Replace both instances of "we" in the title with "I" and you'll have a more accurate title for this book. I was genuinely interested in the history of the craft movement, but that information is buried beneath an uninteresting personal narrative and mountains of insufferable naval-gazing. I found myself engaged one minute, then disengaged the next as the author unpredictably meandered between personal anecdotes and grand philosophical extrapolations of his trade. I read all the way through, hoping to arrive at some sort of redeeming takeaway. instead I'm left with a headache.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Glenn
    Dorking, United Kingdom
    9/3/15
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    "fascinating life story and philosophy"

    I'm really interested in craft and it's sociological functions and this tapped directly into my interest. Mr Korn tells a life story with the lifelong development of his craft at the centre. in between he expands on his understanding of how his craft has informed his development as a person. I found it very interesting and inspiring and couldn't wait to return to it
    I listened while I worked ony canoe. which seemed appropriate!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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