How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees

86%

7 Critic Reviews

It’s a literary oddity that, even as it gleefully pursues the comic possibilities of its premise, subtly gestures towards its own secluded seriousness.
-The New Yorker

Synopsis

A hilarious guide to the lost art of artisanal pencil sharpening

"...I am so thrilled David Rees is picking up the reins of the forgotten art of manual graphite-encased-in-wood point-crafting. I love my pencil!"
—AMY SEDARIS

"You may think that sharpening a pencil is easy, but David Rees makes it look hard, and that makes all the difference."
—JOHN HODGMAN

"Truly, my life before I was presented with correctly sharpened pencils by an artisan was a dull and ill-sharpened void. Learn from my mistakes."
—NEIL GAIMAN

Have you got the right kind of point on your pencil? Do you know how to achieve the perfect point for the kind of work you need out of that pencil?

Deep in New York’s Hudson River Valley, craftsman David Rees—the world’s number one #2 pencil sharpener—still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. In 2010, he began offering his artisanal service to the world, to the jubilation of artists, writers, draftsmen, and standardized test takers.

Now, Rees presents a book that is both a manifesto and a fully-illustrated walk-through of the many, many, many ways to sharpen a pencil. Including chapters on equipment, current practice, and modern technologies, it also points at new trends in sharpening, including "Celebrity Impression Pencil Sharpening (CIPS)," a warning about the “Psychological Risks Associated with Pencil Sharpening,” and a survey of "Wines that tastes like pencils."

As Rees implores: "Sharpening pencils should be an activity that enriches the senses."

And if you think it’s a joke, why don’t you poke yourself with your newly sharpened pencil? Or better yet, don’t—because it’ll really hurt.
 

About David Rees

See more books from this Author
David Rees first came to fame as the author of Get Your War On, a Bush-era comic strip composed from clip-art that he emailed to friends. It was eventually serialized by Rolling Stone magazine, collected into three successful books, and turned into an off-Broadway play. He is also the author of the workplace satire My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable. He lives in Beacon, New York.John Hodgman (introduction) is the author of the bestsellers The Areas of My Expertise, and More Information Than You Require. He's also known for his appearances in Apple's "Get a Mac" advertising campaign, and for his correspondent work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
 
Published April 10, 2012 by Melville House. 224 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
Bookmark Counts:
5
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for How to Sharpen Pencils
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Bruce Mccall on Jul 27 2012

...the act of sharpening a pencil offers about as little by way of mystery or tactile pleasure or emotional involvement as human interaction with almost any inanimate object can.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils | See more reviews from NY Times

Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Huffington Post on Apr 11 2012

If this book doesn't change your life, you weren't ready. Try harder.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

The New Yorker

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark O'Connell on May 17 2012

It’s a literary oddity that, even as it gleefully pursues the comic possibilities of its premise, subtly gestures towards its own secluded seriousness.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

Business Week

Excellent
Reviewed by Bryant Urstadt on May 04 2012

Deep in all this foolish minutia is a payoff, akin to the reward one gets from shipped-by-sail chocolate or receiving a note via first-class mail.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

Boing Boing

Excellent
Reviewed by Cory Doctorow on Apr 13 2012

From his vantage-point atop Mount Obsessive, Rees is able to see far and wide, and the picture he paints there is both true and very, very funny.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

Pencil Revolution

Excellent
Reviewed by Jfg on May 25 2012

In any case, I can think of several reasons that I enjoyed this book and why I would heartily recommend it to Comrades everywhere.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

BookPeople's Blog

Good
Reviewed by Juliewbp on Apr 12 2012

David Rees’s artistic journey defies categorization.

Read Full Review of How to Sharpen Pencils

Reader Rating for How to Sharpen Pencils
84%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 101 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

Vlad Jiman

Vlad Jiman 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Shannon Atkinson

Shannon Atkinson 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Steven

Steven 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Erin Kramer

Erin Kramer 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Mario Alegre-Barrios

Mario Alegre-Barrios 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

×