How to Build Impossible Things

Mark Ellison


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Penguin Books
30 May 2024
ISBN: 9781529157307
304 pages

From the publisher

An illuminating memoir-cum-meditation on work and creativity by the brilliant veteran carpenter, Mark Ellison.


'Sturdy advice, delivered with humour and the occasional splinter' Guardian

‘Gorgeous . . . contains fascinating insights about working with your hands, the nature of talent, and how to create a meaningful life’ A. J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Puzzler

‘Exquisite, purposeful, absorbing . . . a book with much to teach us all’ Ayad Akhtar, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Homeland Elegies

‘People think I’m a genius because I remember my high school math’

When Mark Ellison left high school, no one thought he would go anywhere. A self-proclaimed ‘serial dropout’, Mark spent his young adult years taking work where he found it. Who would have thought that forty years later he would be regarded as a great carpenter, making a living out of building homes for the rich and famous?

Full of warmth, wisdom and irreverent humour, this is the story of what carpentry can teach us about the satisfaction and joy that comes from doing something well for a long time. From staircases that would be deadly if built as designed to algae-eating snails boiled to escargot in a penthouse pond, Mark exposes the messy wiring behind the pristine walls - and the mindset that any of us can develop to build our own impossible things. Written with refreshing candour, this is an essential book about building life on your own terms, and the possibilities that await when we forge our own path.