Back in April after a day breaking stones for a new footpath I wrote asking if hard work was good or bad.
Jeff one of my blog readers in the US mentioned a new book by Matthew Crawford. "Shopcraft as Soulcraft:An Inquiry into the Value of Work" It was not out in the UK so I ordered it from the US and now I have read it I can highly recommend it. It is not written from a craft perspective but from someone who fixes old motorbikes, something I have spent many hours doing but the ideas are totally relevant to anyone who works with skill with their hands. Matt studied philosophy and worked for a New York "think tank" before opting out to run a bike repair shop so the discourse may get a little esoteric for some at times but it is peppered throughout with amusing and insightful personal experiences from the workshop.
The good news is that it is now available in the UK and since we don't have "shop class" we get an Anglicised title "The case for working with your hands; or why office work is bad for us and fixing things feels good." It is a polemic, starting from a set position and defending it rather than an objective balanced inquiry but it is done in good humour. It doesn't really consider the possibility of a balanced life consisting of good office work with some fulfilling physical activity in leisure time.
I very much enjoyed the book and would recommend it, I think that having intellectual folk make a conscious choice of working with their hands and writing eloquently about it raises the status of manual work which I feel is a good and honourable thing.
For another write up see this article from the Telegraph and just because I love old bikes too let's finish with a picture of Matt in his workshop with a gorgeous old bevel drive Ducati.