The Case for Working with Your Hands: or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good by Matthew Crawford (Amazon)
I appreciate that it is somewhat perverse to recommend a book to you that ostensibly advocates ditching the desk job in favour of more creative and rewarding manual labour. Bear with its author, though, because this is a fine and entertaining read.
Through personal experience of hands-on jobs, academia and desk-bound drudgery, Matthew Crawford has found enlightenment and nourishment for his soul through diagnosis and repair of shonky motorcycles. He writes in an easy-going, conversational style, which ensures that the book remains light-hearted and amusing throughout.
Loosely autobiographical, Crawford’s dissertation draws on both the Arts and Sciences to illustrate his point. As product managers (ALERT: tenuous link to subject of this blog), we appreciate both the artistic and scientific challenges of our roles, whether it’s crafting that launch presentation at the last minute or trying to explain to Development why feature X may be a cool science project, but is utterly devoid of any commercial value. Coupled with our propensity to have a hobby that in most cases could in itself become a self-sustaining day job, this book should strike a chord with you as it did for me.
Without spoiling the book for you, but to reassure your respective other halves, I don’t think that it will convince you to ditch the desk job in favour of scraped knuckles, dirty fingernails and mugs of tea in a freezing workshop. In some ways, I was mildly disappointed that I didn’t reach for the laptop to write my letter of resignation immediately on closing the book, however I did appreciate how it led me to re-evaluate my work-life balance and refresh my perspective on the absurdities of office life.
I commend this book to you; enjoy it and pass it on to other, like-minded desk jockeys.