We’ve found that reading unlikely catalogues of industrial materials — Plastics,  FarmTek, Uline, Zoro Tools and the great Outwater Hardware — not only relaxing, but makes our brains sparkle with unexpected ways to use materials designed for farmers, janitors, workmen. But our favorite catalogue of all is Cool Tools, a HUGE catalogue of possibilities that rounds up the best-of items from all over the place. Its descriptions are literary, its selection attuned to creative minds.

Cool Tools is the brainchild of Kevin Kelly, who culled the best of his website of the same name and theme, and formed it into a big softcover catalogue modeled after the late, great, mind-expanding Whole Earth Catalogues, which he had a hand in. For Kelly, the large-scale layouts allow you to scan across a variety of things at once, and make unexpected connections and associations.

Says Kelly:

The best way to use this is to browse and to discover tools you didn’t know exist.

With the right tool you can invent new things

Here’s a fine overview of Cool Tools, and its deep roots in the visionary Whole Earth Catalogue (for those too young to know about it)  (Video link here.)


…and a sampling of some of the ‘topics” you’ll find in Cool Tools,:


We especially love Kelly’s motivation for making the book:

I made it for my three children. I wanted to give them a book that when they left home and they were on their own, they would have a guide that would show them the things that were possible in life. It would equip them to do almost anything they wanted to do. It’s a catalogue of possibilities.

You don’t need to buy anything in this book; you just need to know they exist. And that these possibilities exist.

If you open it up, I am sure you will find something that you didn’t know, that was useful, that would help you to do something maybe you never imagined doing

Unlike Outwater and Plastics (which we still love), Cool Tools runs a wild gamut from Personal Finance to the concept of Good Enough. We find that it is a welcome gift that many different kinds of people delight in.

And its an excellent manual for people of any age trying to navigate the world: a guide that would show them the things that were possible in life.



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