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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 November 2010
Michael Pollan is now best known for a series of books on food, he is also brother in law to Michael J Fox, and an interesting speaker.

This book is ostensibly about building a fancy shed in the woods. Pollan has a tendency to over-intellectualise things. For a discursive chapter on roofing he cites nearly two pages of references, he extensively references Gaston Bachelard and The Poetics of Space on our relationship with and reaction to places. But the overall effect is fascinating, like sitting down with someone who knows all about something, and then proceeds to chat indiscretely about all the best gossip and spats. He can ramble on sometimes, but never for too long, and the book is just packed with fascinating thoughts and diversions. The highlights for me were around the conflict between architects, builders and clients, but the book is just packed with good stuff.

This book is a real keeper, one that you can read again every couple of years and enjoy all over again. This is a substantial, thoughtful and worthwhile book, but above all, it is just a lot of fun to read.
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on 24 June 1999
This book is an intelligent and witty account of a man's desire for a place in which to write and think. A wooden hut is his answer. Exploring the architectural past, Pollan tries to understand the attraction of a solitary place which we can call our own. His interest in the design and construction are the focus of the book. He sees building the hut himself part of the endearing process, which I can relate to as I have built an electric guitar. From picking out the kind of wood, to how the window mechanism will work he is engrossed in the subject. I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in architecture, religon, history, DIY or relationships. In other words, everyone.
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on 10 June 1999
Michael Pollan has written an incredible, exciting book. He's taken the oh-so-common dream of a place of your own, and brought it, through a field of dreams philosophy, and handy Andy building hints, to fruition. Through every page Pollan takes the layman reader on a remarkable quest to find man's place in the natural scheme, and, with a writing style and inquiring mind any novellist would wish to have, furnishes it with insight and hopes. I'm not a garden person; I'm no doctor of philosophy. I like snow and log cabins, and bought the book on a whim. Now I return to the text often, as one of my favourite reads ever. In comparsion, Walden should slope off into the backwoods of philosophy in shame. An absolute gem, completely.
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on 24 September 1999
To most people the idea behind this book probably sounds very sad. Yet its really inspirational. A compelling mix of the American Dream; modern architecture and how to get your builder to do what you want (nearly). I loved it
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on 22 April 2014
I expected a story about building a place with "soul" and the difficulties along the way. Perhaps to have some direction personally going forward too. But it contains a lot of indulgent reflections on architecture that I could have done without. And the writing is irritatingly verbose and self-conscious. Oh well, good in parts. So few pictures, so many words. Some more photos and diagrams would have helped.
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on 16 November 2013
I was a writer in need of a writing space and did what Pollan advised. I grabbed a chair and walked around my garden until I saw the view I wanted from my desk and chair. Then I built a garden office around it. Every day I delight in my space, I have privacy and I value the work I do from my own work space. You may not be able to build a cabin in the woods as he did, and I didn't use my own hands to build my office, but it is the philosophy behind all Pollan's beliefs that starts ones own brain whirring. All his books are worth the read.
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on 3 June 2013
He is a brilliant writer - OK he is over exposed after 'Cooking ' ( if you are already a fan you'll want to say 'Oh , I've loved his books for aaaaaages ! ') this is , I think his second book . Often non fiction interests me but without a narrative to carry me through I don't finish . No such problem with this . He writes so well that he makes deciding where a window will go seem fascinating . He even interested me in architecture , but most of all this is an eclectic book which meanders gorgeously through ideas . I have recommend it to many and have heard no one who has not been enchanted . ( if you like Michael Crawford - this is similar but much more friendly )
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on 28 August 2015
As an architect myself I was skeptical I would gain much from this. However it is an erudite outsider's view looking into the depths and processes at work when you decide to build from concept to completion; the whys, wheres and how are all very well researched and considered, actually surprisingly funny at times. It is not so much how to build your own shed but an essay on how you should think about building...applies to anything really.
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on 18 February 2014
although best known for his major bookss successes, like the omnivors dilemma, Mr Pollan is a clever writter than can build a story worth telling from such a simple - and complicated as it turns out- action as building a small hut for himself.

once again his combination of research, observation, fun and good story writting excells in a funny but most enjoyable voyage. A small gem to enjoy or give as a present.
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on 10 July 2013
This is a beautiful book, with plenty of gorgeous quotes and clear descriptions. It is what I was looking for Many thanks
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