Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (The Penguin Press, 2009)

Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for Nonfiction 
New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2009
Vanity Fair Top Ten Book of 2009
Publisher's Weekly Ten Best Books of 2009
San Francisco Chronicle's Best Books of 2009
Christian Science Monitor's Best of 2009
Wall Street Journal Holiday Book Recommendation
Financial Times Editor's Choice
Popular Mechanics Editor's Choice
Finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award

Related articles: The Case for Working With Your Hands (The New York Times Magazine), Shop Class as Soulcraft (The New Atlantis)


Praise for Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft is a beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America.”—Francis Fukuyama, New York Times Book Review

Crawford’s book arrives just as a vague sense of dissatisfaction with the demands and rewards of the modern economy is coalescing into something like a movement.”—The New Yorker

''Superbly funny, plain writing of great power.... [Crawford] also exhibits excellent use of profanity....' Cycle World

“Crawford’s writing is remarkably clear and close to the bone…. Recent press coverage has sent word-of-mouth buzz on Shop Class through the roof, but it really is a book whose time, in our culture, has come.” – Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

“A powerful case for the special value of skilled work that requires the use of one's hands.”—The Wall Street Journal

 “The sleeper hit of the publishing season…The book makes a persuasive case that knowing how to build and fix things—from framing a house to repairing a leaky toilet— is often far more rewarding than becoming another "knowledge worker" with no practical skills.”—Boston Globe

 “[Shop Class as Soulcraft] may upend your preconceptions about labor and, just maybe, cause you to rethink your career (or how you spend your weekends)….The book is both impassioned and profound.”—Christopher Shea, The Washington Post

"A masterpiece filled with surprises." --Dallas Morning News

 ‘A breakout success ... touched a big nerve, quickly becoming a national best seller and generating widespread publicity’  New York Times

 “[Crawford] packs plenty of intellectual firepower into his polemic, quoting Aristotle in his own translation and sprinkling the text with erudite footnotes. Like Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Crawford's book reveals both why we do what we do and why the way we do it is important.”—Time

 "The best self-help book I've ever read." --Slate

"A vigorous defense of the figure of the tradesman... More grounded and more elegant than its fellow travelers in hipsterdom and pop culture." --National Post (Canada)

 "[Crawford] is onto something big in Shop Class, something about how the national culture has gotten so disdainful of physical labor that it is losing some basic precepts of how to live a contented (and competent) life."— Neely Tucker, The Washington Post

 “Spine-tingling”—New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix

 “Crawford's wry, unaffected voice, humility and clarity [make] Shop Class a latter day Zen. Like Pirsig, Crawford doesn't talk about philosophy like someone standing at a podium in tweed.” —Chicago Tribune

 “With so many boom-time values dying along with millions of jobs, [Shop Class as Soulcraft] may have arrived at just the right moment.”—Newsweek

 “Crawford makes a philosophical case for choosing the trades over college in his brilliant new book, Shop Class as Soul Craft, which launches an intellectually formidable attack on the way our culture has come to devalue manual labor. This bracingly countercultural book, written by a scholar who left white-collar work to open a motorcycle repair shop, defiantly rejects received wisdom about the meaning of work in America today.”—Dallas Morning News

“A powerful case for the rewards of manual work."— Matthew Battles, Christian Science Monitor

 Just three days after publication, Shop Class reached number 23 on The New York Times bestseller list. And in the following three weeks, it went through five printings. When The New York Times Magazine ran a 5,000-word excerpt, readers responded on the newspaper’s website with comments like: “Without doubt the best article that I have read in 13 years. Thank-you”; “This is a wonderful, thought-provoking piece. I read it with mixed emotions: elation, admiration, envy, empathy, inadequacy”; and “You have no idea how much this article means to me. I suspect–hope–it represents the beginning of a shift in thinking.” Americans, perhaps, have found their guide.”—Financial Times

 “Crawford is eminently well placed to discuss the intellectual and practical aspects of work and indeed….There are serious nuggets of truth here. It is worth at least thinking about going on to acquire a manual skill instead of disappearing into some amorphous office job. It could lead to a richer, more financially secure, and more fulfilling way of life.”—George Whisstock, Christian Science Monitor

 “Shop Class as Soulcraft is a unique combination of memoir and philosophical inquiry that examines how we understand and give value to work….[Crawford] levels the playing field, in a sense, by turning the stratification of the working world upside-down and provoking readers to reflect upon the value of the lives they live eight hours a day, five days a week.”—Zocolo

 Shop Class as Soulcraft…makes some compelling arguments about the link between independent thinking, self-reliance, and working with one's hands…. perhaps it's time to start relearning independent craft skills that integrate both the head and the hands”—

 “A fascinating, important analysis… Inspired social criticism and deep personal exploration….”—Library Journal

 “Philosopher and motorcycle repair-shop owner Crawford extols the value of making and fixing things in this masterful paean to what he calls “manual competence,” the ability to work with one’s hands. …With wit and humor, the author deftly mixes the details of his own experience as a tradesman and then proprietor of a motorcycle repair shop with more philosophical considerations.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


In the UK:

‘The best book I have read for ages. A profound exploration of modern education, work and capitalism’—Matthew d’Ancona, Daily Telegraph (UK)

‘Masterly’  Economist

 ‘A philosophy of how life should be lived, how children should be educated and how economies should be run. Full of interesting stories and thought-provoking aperçus enlivened with humour. Important, memorable and enjoyable’  Louis de Bernières, The Times (UK)

‘A powerful new book’  David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, Daily Telegraph (UK)

‘A next-generation Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to rally the millions who feel emotionally disconnected from work’  Financial Times

‘Short, handy, compelling and challenging’  Guardian (UK)

‘A bestseller in the United States, but its critique of ‘post-industrial’ capitalism is equally pertinent here … Will be enjoyed for its iconoclasm, swagger and dry humour’  Daily Telegraph (UK)

‘Persuasive and timely’  The Times (UK)

‘While the specifics come from American experience, almost everything in the book also holds true for Britain’  Ian Jack, Guardian (UK)

‘A profound text’  Phillip Blond, author of Red Tory

‘[A] tender, wise little volume ... Crawford is a kindred spirit’  Lionel Shriver

‘Elegant and humorous’  The Times (UK)

‘A short book that punches hard and deserves to spark off a wide debate’  Herald Scotland