After a long week of client deadlines, telemarketing calls, and the other tiresome demands that come with being an adult, it feels good to forget all the rules and make what you want to make, any way you dang well please! Whether you’re tinkering in the garage, crafting a new recipe in the kitchen, or hanging out by the 3D printer in your library, when you’re the maker, you’re in charge. If you’re looking for inspiration on what to make, the books below are a great place to start—but remember, no one will know if you ignore the instructions or make up your own. And if anyone tries to tell you to follow the rules, you know what to say: Make me!
Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Minds, by Dale Dougherty
Attending the Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire is a great way to dive into the Maker universe, but the Maker Movement is way bigger than any one event. This book, by the creator of the original Maker Faire, explains what drives our urge to create; how the internet has transformed the way we invent, design, and share our creations; and how the maker movement can energize our communities and lives. It’s 336-page call to action, and I dare you not to make something after reading it.
Make It Glow: LED Projects for the Whole Family, by Emily Coker and Kelli Townley
Adding a little LED bling to your outfit is sure to get you noticed at your next Maker Faire. With 21 easy-to-follow projects, this book encourages adults and kids to work together to build everything from light-up fairy wings to a bouquet of glowing flowers. Along the way, you’ll learn the basics of electronics and circuitry. This book is sure to leave a sparkle in every maker’s eye.
Make: Tech DIY: Easy Electronics Projects for Parents and Kids, by Ji Sun Lee and Jaymes Dec
Before you hand your soldering iron to your kids, introduce them to the art of using electronics in warmer, fuzzier ways. This book includes sewing projects that help kids feel comfortable with sensors, transistors, and timers. Working together, you can make a pillow purr (yes, please!) or build a game board that lights up—a total win for everyone!
Raspberry Pi User Guide, by Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree
If you’re longing for a guide to life, I’m sorry to tell you that doesn’t exist. But there is a guide to the Raspberry Pi! Written by a Pi guru, this book will answer all your questions, from how to set up your Pi to how to make it compatible with touch screens and other add-ons. Projects walk you through writing programs and a variety of Pi-friendly computer languages. Along the way, you might even learn a little about the meaning of life…but no promises.
The Big Book of Makerspace Projects, by Colleen Graves and Aaron Graves
Being a Maker isn’t about spending big bucks. It’s about being curious, experimenting, and inventing. This book offers over 300 pages of low-cost, totally intriguing projects you can try at home or in your workshop. Step-by-step instructions walk you through customizing your smartphone, upgrading a simple piece of paper into a circuit, and even the magic of 3D printing. Feeling empowered to make something? That’s big!
Theodore Gray’s Completely Mad Science, by Theodore Gray
Known for his Popular Science column, Theodore Gray is not content for Makers to simply knit LED lights into their scarves or design some new code for their 3D printer. Step into his Maker world and things get weird, fast—good weird, but weird. This book includes experiments like casting a fish out of mercury, powering your iPhone with an apple, creating nylon thread out of questionable chemicals, and more. Boredom is not possible when you’re experimenting with Gray’s completely mad science.
Ready the Cannons! by William Gurstelle
Some makers are busy concocting the perfect small-batch pickle recipe. Others are developing artisanal artillery. If you’re in the later camp, this book will delight your inner warrior. With instructions for building supersonic Ping-Pong ball shooters, adults-only squirt guns, and bottle bazookas, you’ll be packing heat at your next Maker Faire. Good thing you’re on our side, right?
3D Printing for Dummies, by Kalani Kirk Hausman and Richard Horne
Just when you finally figured out how to load the toner on that pesky printer in your office, 3D printing hits the scene. If you’re mystified by this futuristic technology, this book offers straight-forward explanations and guides you through the process of selecting software and other equipment so you can get started with confidence. The authors also include a timely look at the intellectual property issues surrounding the technology. With their friendly tone and simple instructions, you’ll be filing for your own trademark in no time. You can even print that little ™ symbol in 3D!
Paperback $36.00 | $40.00
Practical Electronics for Inventors, by Paul Scherz and Simon Monk
When you’re ready to take that sketch on your napkin and turn it into a robot that can take over the world, you’re ready to learn about electronics. This updated edition of the classic title introduces inventors, tinkerers, and budding engineers to the basics of programming, semiconductors, amplifiers, voltage, power supplies, and other key components of digital electronics. You’ll learn how to design circuits, integrate your work with software, and generally adapt a test-and-try mindset that will last long beyond the creation of Robot 1.0.
Electronics for Kids, by Oyvind Nydal Dahl
Kids tend to have questions about everything. And while you may be able to answer questions like, “Why do we have hair on our heads?” (or not!), it might get trickier to answer queries about electricity, which can feel practically magical. This book makes the invisible concrete and easy to understand. Packed with clear explanations and projects, including building an alarm clock and designing a musical instrument that sounds like it’s out of Star Trek, kids will get plenty of safe opportunities to learn the basics, hands-on. Soon they’ll be answering your questions!