Makers: All Kinds of People Making Amazing Things in Garages, Basements, and Backyards (O'Reilly Media)

From Amazon reviews: "Tools and I usually don't get along real well. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the skill of those who can make something out of seemingly nothing. Makers is a beautiful book that salutes the sometimes off-beat inventor we'd probably all like to be.

"Parks has taken 91 "makers," those who have invented and created things out of the ordinary, and given them a short one to two page write-up on their invention, their story, and their motivation as to what makes them tick. In many cases, it's a matter of making a gadget out of trashed treasures that someone else threw out.

"Take Greg Miller, for instance, who built his own night vision scope from discarded parts and $39. Or you have the group of hackers who built an electronic lock-picking machine out of obsolete and castoff computer parts—cost $0.

"But there are also the serious inventors who devote large amounts of time, energy, and money to pursuing their dreams. Like Tom Chudleigh who has built a spherical wooden treehouse that took him two years and well over $10,000. Or Hans-Joerg Krohn who missed being able to fly all the time before he was transferred to a job in Kazakhstan. To satisfy that urge, he spent over $12,000 and 10 years building a full-scale flight simulator with multiple computers and customized instrument panels. While the back of the simulator looks like a Rube Goldberg device, the seating canopy looks like a professional trainer —an incredible feat of engineering."

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"O'Reilly has done a superb job with this "coffee table" book. After the success of their Make magazine, it's not surprising that they would publish something like this. What is unusual is the quality and beauty of the volume. Heavy paper stock, full color pictures, and a stylistic look that kept me turning the pages and marveling at how creative people could be."

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"This isn't a "how to" book, so if you're intending to buy something as a tutorial on building things, look elsewhere. But if you want to be inspired by human ingenuity and creativity, this book will definitely fit the bill."