Some Assembly Required – The New York Times

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In The New York Times Book Review, Michael Bierut reviews Alexander Langlands’s “Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts.” Bierut writes:


In “Craeft,” Langlands neither jumps aboard the homemade bandwagon nor stands athwart it. Instead he simply and serenely declines to acknowledge its existence.

The unusual spelling in the book’s title is the first clue that Langlands intends to go deeper. The familiar term associated today with glue sticks and glitter has its roots in an Old English word more than 1,000 years old. According to Langlands, “craeft” is nearly untranslatable, “a form of knowledge, not just a knowledge of making but a knowledge of being.” It combines in some ineffable way skill, intelligence and virtue. For Langlands, the only way to understand it is through firsthand experience.

On this week’s podcast, Langlands discusses “Craeft”; Max Boot talks about “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam”; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles, Tina Jordan and John Williams on what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books mentioned in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“The Nothing” by Hanif Kureishi

“Winter” by Ali Smith

“A Not Entirely Benign Procedure” by Perri Klass

“Better” by Atul Gawande

“The Woman in the Window” by A. J. Finn

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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