Reviews for Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It, by Adam Savage

maxine's review
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4.0

I listened to this book on audio because Adam Savage reads it himself. Even though I don't usually create physical things, I loved this book for normalizing the unruly process of creating something from nothing. This applies to physical goods, software, creative projects, and the like. I listened to entire chapters on glue and scissors because it was just so fascinating. Would recommend for folks looking to get inspired to make something or to organize their process of making.

A.J.'s review
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4.0

Definitely go with the audiobook on this one—Savage’s enthusiasm is contagious.

I really appreciate how broadly he defines making. And while I can’t relate to all of it (in my mind, failing to measure -> mistakes -> death and disaster) it still lands. Good job man, thanks for sharing.

Giselle Bradley's review
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2.0

DNF'd 25%

AudiobookMel's review
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5.0

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into with this book. Amazon has it listed as #8 in Mid Atlantic U.S. Biographies, #1 in Science Experiments & Projects, #7 in Mythology & Folklore Encyclopedias (at the time I wrote this). But as I was listening to this book, I found it to be part memoir, part self-help, part business and part how-to. Basically, Adam Savage, of Mythbusters fame, writes a story similar to how he was on the show, a little bit of everywhere and everything. The big thing you will take away from this book is his passion for building/making and his love of sharing his passion with others.

“Making is more than the physical act of building. It’s dancing, it’s sewing. It’s cooking. It’s writing songs. It’s silk-screening. It’s breaking new trails both literally and figuratively.


In this book, Adam takes you through his passion for making. He takes you through and how he learned all these processes through trial and error. He talks about how his mentors have given him tools to become successful and how he continually modifies his processes to improve on them to what works best for him.

I love how he talks about everything from making lists and how that evolved over the years and how difficult it was for him to make lists in the beginning, being the type of guy who just wants to dive in (If you watched Mythbusters, you will see Adam isn’t known for being the big planner, but more the type to just dive into a project).

There are three parts that really stood out to me. First was a story about how a very young Adam immortalizes his favorite toy bear. He started out with a drawing and how, even has a very young child, he wanted it to be more than just a drawing. So he broke the rule of stay away from the razor blades to cut out the picture. The story really shows how supportive his parents were, even when he broke a very strict rule, but for a reason of making something.

Second part that really stood out to me was about mentorship. He talks about how Jaime, also of Mythbuster’s fame, mentored him as one of Adam’s first bosses. Adam talks a lot about how much he learned, not just from Jaime, but all his mentors and took different pieces of their styles and made it his own. He also talks about how he is now mentoring his own teams, on the shows and in his own business. This part of the book would be great for a lot of business individuals.

The last piece that really stood out to me was very early in Adam’s carrier. It was his second project to help a film student build a set. It was what seemed like an easy build. A small room with an ATM machine. But it proved more difficult than young adult Adam could do on his own. It had complications that he didn’t consider and he didn’t give himself enough time to compensate for difficulties. It was his first big failure. The biggest thing was that not only did he fail, but it affected not just him, but the film student that needed the set. This story again showed how his father was very supportive, but also gave Adam the hard truths. He screwed up and lost a friend over it. There wasn’t anything he could do to make up for it. The only thing was to learn from it, so that he never did anything like that again.

Like I said, this book is many things and it is hard to put it into a box or genre because it covers so many things, deadlines, tools, and how to force yourself to actually finish a product. As Adam mentioned above in the quote, makers are more than just builders. They are people who create anything, be it a coder, a writer, a dancer or pretty much anything where you start with nothing and create something. I think anyone can listen to this audiobook and take something away from the story to use in your everyday life.

Narration
So Adam Savage is also the one who narrates this story. Listening to it you can really tell his passion for the things he discusses. You can really hear about stuff that he was excited about years ago are still exciting to him today. You can also hear how disappointed he was in himself with that story of the set he messed up when still very young. Adam is a performer at heart and you could hear that in his telling of his own story.

**I'd like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Simsbrarian's review
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2.0

This is a book that seems like it might have been more entertaining as an audiobook but even then it is not at all what I anticipated based on it being an Adam Savage memoir. It's also not what I hoped for based on the title. This is not a true biography detailing the major beats of Adam's life. It's also (sadly) not an insight into many cool MacGyver Moments where Adam somehow used tools in interesting manners to finish a project or meet a deadline in a unique way. It is definitely not an in depth look into his time at ILM or Mythbusters. Instead, this reads as the text to a repetitive and, sadly, rather lack-luster motivational speech intended for a set of creative students about to embark on a journey into becoming Makers.

There's some "Yeah, go make stuff! It's awesome! Be creative and find what works best for you!" bits; there are some "Here are my favorite kinds of tape! Also, cardboard it amazing!" sections; and there are a few "This cool past event is what shaped my feelings on this tool and/or type of project". It's a kaleidoscope of mish-mashed events and thoughts and advice that just didn't work for me and required some heavy skimming after a while.

Since this is not at all a linear style of memoir there are quite a few parts where the same (nearly verbatim) lead-in will set up the same moment to discuss a slightly different aspect to fit with the related chapter ("This happened right before I joined Industrial Light and Magic, which is when..." or "This was right about the time that I joined Jaime on Mythbusters").

So, this was largely disappointing for me. It may be of interest to anyone who is new to the entire concept of "making things" or who is curious about what Adam's philosophy is on "Making" or who is for some reason obsessed with knowing the steps Adam took to recreate the blaster prop from Blade Runner or how he goes about organizing his workspace. But otherwise? I'd pass on this one and save yourself the boredom and just go see him speak somewhere to get your motivational kick.

upsidedown10's review
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5.0

This was amazing. I went to one of the tour events for this book and i heard Adam speak about making it and making things. I basically read the whole thing in his voice because it just comes through that strongly. Every time I put it down, I was filled with the desire to make something, anything just because I could. This book is inspiring for the best reasons.

latlansky's review
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5.0

I enjoyed this book immensely. If you enjoy doing anything moderately creative, from amateur hobbyist to laser-focused builder, you'll find yourself in this book. Have dreams of doing something crafty but lack the confidence to start? This book is for you too.
I love that he explains his processes, how they've adapted over time and experience, but doesn't say "this is the right way". In fact, I think the key point he makes is that everyone is different, and what works for some may be a creative hindrance to others. He gives you permission to try and fail and question and rework. To find the joy in the process.
I love that he promotes sharing. Don't hoard the knowledge. I love that he talks about how everything you do, successfully or not, is just another brick in the wall that is your knowledge base. So even that screw up you had to rescue 5 years ago might have triggered just the solution to the thing you're doing right now.
I even loved the chapter on glue.
A final anecdote, and I am not even exaggerating: He talked about setting a meaningful deadline to get personal projects done, otherwise they tend to languish as you pick at them for weeks. I felt so seen! I checked in on a personal project I've been meaning to finish. I realized I was actually a lot farther along than I thought, maybe 90% complete. So I just parked my butt in the chair, made the hard decisions I'd been avoiding, and sent it off. What a weight off my shoulders.

CrivenS's review
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5.0

Splendid, a pleasure to read, lots of unencountered anecdotes and stories and of course a raft of great workshop advice.

kirabobooks's review
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4.0

If you've ever seen Mythbusters and know Adam Savage's voice, then you can practically hear him reading his book to you as you turn the pages. It's incredibly genuine to Savage as a creator, maker, and person and it makes you wonder: Is there anything he can't do?

Filled with photos of his workshops, projects, and sketches, Every Tool's a Hammer brings the life and work of Adam Savage to life on the page, told by the maker himself. It's an inspiring and telling book about his life as a creator from the '80s to today. What I really love is that this book is not narcissistic; it focuses on Savage's career through the successes and the failures (especially the failures!) From Brooklyn cross-country to San Francisco, from student films to Star Wars and beyond, Savage takes us through the course of his life as a maker-creator, student, and mentor alongside the work that he's done over the years.

Savage impresses upon the reader that a maker is not just some mechanical-engineer-tool person. Anyone who creates is a maker: writers, actors, artists...all of them are makers in their own ways. The first half of the book is incredibly relevant to makers of all kinds, and it stands as a personal philosophy of creating and making.

The back end of the book, however, is more devoted to maker-makers (the mechanical sort,) and involves more talk about creation, ideation, failure, and even glue. (Yes, glue.) And though you may not find yourself to be a part of that maker-maker group, it's still worth it to read the later half of the book. Even in pages about glue, what you understand is that there is always more than one way to make something stick (ha.)

Told in Savage's eccentric and emphatic style, Every Tool's a Hammer is a great companion for the maker, the aspiring maker, or the genuinely curious.

whennnow's review
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5.0

How can there be so much good advice packed into one book?
If you make anything, at all, in any kind of medium, or even if you just want to make things, this book is incredible! It had both specific making advice and general life advice.

I went through this book with a pencil and sticky tabs so I could mark all the bits that really struck me, so I can come back to them later.