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How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants Hardcover – Apr 10 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (April 10 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612190405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612190402
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2 x 18.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #293,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Praise for How to Sharpen Pencils

"The book is powerfully funny ... a stylistic high-wire act, and Rees never teeters."
—The New Yorker

"Dear Reader is plunged into delicious confusion ... gloriously irreverent."
The New York Times Book Review

"This is the best treatise on pencil sharpening (in a sea of none) and diabolically funny. I’ve already alerted the Pulitzer committee." —Library Journal

"This book is really a must-read for anyone interested in pencils. And there are well-placed lines likely to render you, as I was, doubled over in laughter. But what I enjoyed most about Mr. Rees’ book was reading something written with such sincerity by a person who obviously does what he does with care." —Pencil Revolution

"There is a long chapter on how to sneak into someone’s house and smash their electric pencil sharpener with a mallet." Businessweek

“The hand-sharpened pencils sent to me by artisanal pencil sharpener David Rees are without a doubt the MOST EFFICIENT writing instruments in my collection. I use them both for business and for pleasure, as their SLEEK and ELEGANT design coupled with their AMAZING SHARPNESS help make me an object of envy at work and about town. My favorite use for a David Rees hand-sharpened pencil? Sending threatening letters to strangers whose names I pick out of a phone book.”
—MATT TAIBBI, investigative journalist 

"Of all the great artisanal crafts, hat blocking, cobbling, and trolloping, I think I was most disheartened to see pencil sharpening relegated to the dusty bin of history.  That is why 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, crafts expert

"Looking back, I cannot believe that I spent so many years of my life mechanically sharpening my own pencils with pencil sharpeners. 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, writer

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

"Could I sharpen my own pencils? Sure, I could! I could also perform my own dentistry, cobble my own shoes and smith my own tin—but why not leave such matters to real artisans, instead? I trust my bespoke pencils only to David Rees."

“The number one #2 pencil sharpener!”
—STARLEE KINE, public radio writer

“David Rees carved away the wood that hides the graphite the way I need to carve away the fat the hides my ability to wear a bathing suit. Thank you for showing me the path, Rees."
—PATTON OSWALT, performer

"One is tempted to call it a must-read for anyone who has ever used a pencil."

Praise For David Rees' Get Your War On

“Riotous and principled.”
Washington Post

“Hilariously deadpan fatalism... a surprisingly articulate expression of our anxieties.”

“The Thomas Nast of the internet.”
Comedy Central

“The most original cartoon since... well ever. Raw, enraged, sardonic, hilarious, despairing, and impossible to pigeonhole.”
Rolling Stone

“A glorious excoriation of our post-9/11 loony bin.”
New York Times

“A phenomenal cult hero.”

USA Today

About the 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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hilarious. 'Portlandia' hilarious. 'John Hodgman' hilarious.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 70 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This work creates an entirely new paradigm Aug. 31 2012
By D. Hungerford - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Immediately after reading this seminal act of devotion and brilliance I knew my life had changed irrevocably. I realized why I have always found the Internet experience somehow hollow and devoid of meaning: you cannot write on the internet with a pencil.
84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Sharp and to the point April 19 2012
By J. Ryan Pedersen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
My pencils were always so embarrassingly dull that I had to start using pens. I failed my first year of University because I couldn't properly colour in the bubble on standardized tests. David Rees' amazing new book has literally turned my life around. Now if someone would tell me how to recondition the dried out erasers...
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Long overdue book May 1 2012
By Ralph Butler - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an obsessive accumulator of old mechanical pencil sharpeners, it's my opinion that this is the perfect book. I understand that others do not have quite as much technical interest, but I have to say that everyone I've shown this to loves the book including those not in the least bitten by the bug. It's one of those books where you have to keep shoving it at other people saying here read this, and they actually think it's as funny as you do and can't stop reading. By the way, if you by choice have more than a few pencil sharpeners, you have to buy this book.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Insane and Insanely Funny April 13 2012
By cbartz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Rees is insane and insanely funny. Who else could write a book about pencil sharpening and leave you wanting more? David Rees can write humor behind his head and with his teeth (see chapter on novelty sharpening). The book reads like a roller coaster starting with a slow, uphill, tongue-in-cheek technical instruction. But once the coaster hits the top, it is a crazy thrill-ride to the end that only Rees' brand of unpredictable humor could pull off. I was laughing out loud. Includes an appendix of wines that taste like pencil shavings! I read from my Kindle and noticed one gap / hanging sentence in chapter 17 - not sure how much was missing.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Triumph! July 21 2012
By Stephen Long - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Gone are the days of haphazardly sharpening pencils with all the finesse of a floundering Philistine. This book has given me the tools I needed to bring my pencil sharpening to the next level. Gasps of awe and astonishment have followed my pencils wherever they go, from the wood carving huts of Pakuhaji to the Schrimpschonger fellowship of Krambugah. I now spend my days travelling the globe ala "Kung Fu" imparting whatever knowledge and wisdom I can to the less fortunate pencil owners of the world.

Thank you Mr. Rees. Thank you for making me the man I needed to be.

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