‘Cool Tools’: A Book for Serious Tool Lovers

Kevin Kelly’s ‘Cool Tools’ book is a veritable tool box of ideas, cataloging a huge assortment of useful, practical and empowering items.

  • Cool Tools book
    This excellent book covers far more than just the traditional concept of what constitutes a tool.
    Cover courtesy Cool Tools Lab

  • Cool Tools book

Kevin Kelly’s comprehensive, 470-page Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities echoes the classic 1970s Whole Earth Catalog, which Kelly helped edit. If you’ve ever spent time with the Whole Earth Catalog, you know how hard it is to put down. Cool Tools is the same way — the 11-by-14-inch pages are packed with all kinds of surprises, innovative products and ideas.

Kelly describes a cool tool as “anything useful that increases learning, empowers individuals, does work that matters, and is either the best, or the cheapest, or the only thing that works.” For Kelly, who served as executive editor at Wired, this definition includes a wide array of items, from hand tools and maps to software and magazines. His review of MOTHER EARTH NEWS concludes: “Why I subscribe: Most magazines are about consuming. This one is about producing.”

The book started out as a gift for his children. Kelly explains, “I wanted to give my three kids a box of tools when they left home. The principal item I decided to include was a book — a book pointing to all the great tools beyond the box.”

More than 1,500 entries are organized into a broad spectrum of topics, from “homestead” to “storytelling,” and each item is reviewed by at least one expert who has used it extensively and is knowledgeable about the tasks to which it is suited. Worried that Zip Kicker adhesive won’t hold? Read the testimony by special-effects engineer Adam Savage and fret no more. Want to know how to edit a feature-length film? Pining for a new pressure cooker? Hankering to build a tagelharpa? This incredibly cool book, which is available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store, has you covered.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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