... a swift and understated examination of a life spent working with one’s hands ... For its detailing of the labor involved, the book will as much be useful to someone facing a renovation as it will provoke nods of recognition from those in the trades ... Mr. Thorstensen’s prose (in Seán Kinsella’s translation from the Norwegian) is unadorned, utilitarian: The words do the work they’re meant to do, without flourish ... He explores many of the same themes as Matthew Crawford did in Shop Class as Soulcraft (2009), but spares us Mr. Crawford’s macho posturing and tradework evangelism ... a reader might long for a little more conflict, a little more strife, a little more of the inevitable job challenges that speak to the larger struggles that all of us experience as we do our best to build a life.
...this is a humble yet noble tribute to the value of honest work ... Throughout, readers get advice on hiring building professionals, learn about the difference between parquet and solid wood floors, and begin to understand the mechanics of and psychology behind good and not-so-good construction. Readers will love Thorstensen’s insights into work and life.
There is a soothing steadiness to be found in his explanations of his trade ... At times the book veers dangerously close to the banality of an instruction manual ... But it also shows the philosophical side to a tradesman’s life.