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  • Shop Class as Soulcraft

  • An Inquiry into the Value of Work
  • By: Matthew B. Crawford
  • Narrated by: Max Bloomquist
  • Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Shop Class as Soulcraft cover art

Shop Class as Soulcraft

By: Matthew B. Crawford
Narrated by: Max Bloomquist
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Summary

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

Called "the sleeper hit of the publishing season" by The Boston Globe, Shop Class as Soulcraft became an instant best seller, attracting fans 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 "knowledge worker," based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing. Using his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford presents a wonderfully articulated call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.

©2009 Matthew B. Crawford (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"It's appropriate that [Shop Class as Soulcraft] arrives in May, the month when college seniors commence real life. Skip Dr. Seuss, or a tie from Vineyard Vines, and give them a copy for graduation.... It's not an insult to say that Shop Class is the best self-help book that I've ever read. Almost all works in the genre skip the 'self' part and jump straight to the 'help.' Crawford rightly asks whether today's cubicle dweller even has a respectable self.... It's kind of like Heidegger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." (Slate)  

"Matt Crawford's remarkable book on the morality and metaphysics of the repairman looks into the reality of practical activity. It is a superb combination of testimony and reflection, and you can't put it down." (Harvey Mansfield, professor of government, Harvard University) 

"Every once in a great while, a book will come along that's brilliant and true and perfect for its time. Matthew B. Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft is that kind of book, a prophetic and searching examination of what we've lost by ceasing to work with our hands - and how we can get it back. During this time of cultural anxiety and reckoning, when the conventional wisdom that has long driven our wealthy, sophisticated culture is foundering amid an economic and spiritual tempest, Crawford's liberating volume appears like a lifeboat on the horizon." (Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots)  

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Inspires a better work ethic

If you are the sort of person who often feels worn down, tired and you don't really know why, unhappy in your body, this book is one of the best places to start turning your life around. It manages to put into words that an intellectual can understand, the value of labour and hard work.
The author is obviously well read as an academic but if the garage and handiwork is your speed, it will more than appeal.
Excellent book for anyone who often finds themselves wondering why they feel "like that" all the time.

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love this

Relaxing and informative love this audio book and will come back to it time and time again.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-20

Hands and brain: a matching set

A very good reasoning on how our education system, in its zeal to accredit the masses (in unwitting league with corporate America and its need for “Knowledge Workers”), has taken away the legitimacy of people having a career based on working with their minds through the use of their hands to repair and create.
Takeaway: Deal not in ambiguous abstractions of life; get your hands dirty

7 people found this helpful

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  • Yon
  • 06-06-19

a worthwhile read multiple times over

I've listened to this book 2-3 times and have been educated, validated, and entertained by it. I also find it very relatable in that I also have a college degree, but have chosen to work a trade as a painting contractor. So not only do I get to work with my hands and see the results of my work, I get to listen to audiobooks while I do it!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Pat Brouillard
  • 17-10-20

This booked changed my whole outlook

I have a great day job but a few years ago I took up woodworking as a hobby. I didn’t quite understand why I got so much pleasure out of my hobby but It all made sense after this book. Every parent of teens or teen should read this as they figure out their path in life.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and downloading the author’s second book now

4 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Lewis
  • 04-04-19

Best exposition on philosophy of work!

This book helped me understand many of the questions and problems heard every day at work. It doesn't seek to answer all of them, but it portrays them in a way that makes sense and points to answers while giving vivid analogies for the philosophical terms that he uses.

4 people found this helpful

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  • R. Angelone
  • 11-04-22

Disappointed in the tone, delivery and conclusion

At times, it's a good personal story. I was inspired by the author's journey. But then at times it gets snarky and politically ideological. I don't see the responsible Stoic in admiring squealing rubber nor bobbing in traffic.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Meta G.
  • 04-03-22

Corporate culture touched him inappropriately?

Ok let me start with the pros: His vocabulary and word usage is amazing. I love his writing style. I am a sucker for big words and sarcasm. He has a great understanding of what he personally didn't like about corporate culture and teamwork.

The cons: His entire premise is basically, the way large corporations work is intrinsically flawed or has become flawed over years of pushing the little man down away from his own agency and decision-making. This book entirely misses the point that sometimes people just have to work to make money. Jobs are not always going to be about filling a hole in your soul that you used to fill by changing your own damn oil!!

Also, the metaphor about some guy feeling defeated because he has to use an automatic paper towel dispenser? Really?! Give me a break.

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  • Kendall G
  • 22-01-21

Insightful, Thick,

TLDR - it’s ok and good to work with your hands. Blue collar work is noble. Work to live, not live to work.

Rambling at times. Heavy dose of SAT words. Could be better with simpler, more accessible language. Smart guy and I admire his reflections.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Corey
  • 05-05-20

Had high hopes

Was this book well written? Yes. Is it better than much of the trash out there? Yes! Is it worth your credit? Not so fast. Clearly the author put a ton of work into this book. Unfortunately, it was too linear for my liking. I didn't find the wisdom that some of the other reviewers referred to. Wouldn't be my go-to title for this subject. I will have to put this one back on the shelf.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mike McClary
  • 08-06-22

I wanted to like this book but didn’t.

This book didn’t work for me. I found myself rewinding throughout the book because I couldn’t track what the author was even talking about. I listened to the entire book and if someone were to ask me what the book was about … I couldn’t do it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TL
  • 14-04-22

Somewhat juvenile

The premise of this book is an interesting one, but it quickly turns into a boring rant against knowledge work. The author could have saved himself the trouble with the simple mantra, “Don’t want an office job? Don’t get one”.

1 person found this helpful