Tour of Insanity

Manifesto for Better Home Design

Non-Fiction - Humor/Comedy
88 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Kelly and Matthew have strong and opposite views of the world and spend a great deal of time and energy trying to convince each other who’s right. It is in the spirit of these heated debates that we have arrived at the first book on our Tour of Insanity.

Kelly’s superpowers: A poet, writer, creative ninja and influential linguistic artist. Refusing to be defined by any ‘one’ thing or subject, Kelly thrives in generating messages from a broad spectrum of writing mediums and genres including Sci-Fi, poetry, erotica, satirical opinion pieces, and fiction works.

Matthew’s superpowers: Combines creativity with the ability to see what the world needs. He has mastered the skill of utilizing what is readily available to create something brand new. Matt enjoys challenges and often sees the path forward all the way through the end result before others.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite

Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for Better Home Design by authors Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny is a non-fiction book mixed with humor along the way. It describes the birth and evolution of what surrounds us in the everyday lives that we lead, from bathrooms to front yards, to garages and beyond. As modern people living in 2021, it is always important to know or have some idea as to how the world works around us, even if we didn’t play the part of inventor or architect. What you find in Mitchell and Zakutny’s book Tour of Insanity is a treasure trove of facts you would have never guessed brought to you in a way that makes you want to absorb it all like a giddy sponge.

Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny’s Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for Better Home Design made me laugh, made me curious, and most importantly made me feel like I learned something that was significant and that I could remember. Every page that I read made me want to get to the next and devour it. I think I was expecting a crazy amount of comedy throughout, which made me hesitate at first. But Tour of Insanity is the perfect balance of humor added to facts that I’ve ever come across. And the images used within took you back in time to the ’70s and into nostalgia, even if carpeted bathrooms weren’t recommended. The photos of garages that were used in the book were gorgeous and made me want to start my life over and do it better, so I could have one. One of the comedic bits that made me laugh was on page 12: “The evil of front lawns was handed down by Abraham Levitt (the first Karen) in the late 1940s." This is just a small “paint chip” (yep, I went there with a pun) of what lies in store when you turn the pages of Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny’s Tour of Insanity.

Asher Syed

Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for Better Home Design by Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny is a non-fiction guide that walks readers through their own homes to learn a bit about why things are where they are. Written and formatted as a satire, the book is broken down into an unlucky thirteen different chapters that address different areas of the house. These include things like wall-to-wall carpeting, including in the bathroom, kitchen, and dining areas, the placement of the laundry room, how garages came to be, and the bizarre obsession with Juliet windows that has gotten to a point where fakes are frequently installed, among other things. Each section has a blurb on the history and how it came to be, the evolution of its presence, and plenty of additional delightfully useless information that is good for a laugh.

Tour of Insanity is a fun little book that ranks one level above family quiz night and one below beer pong, with Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny as our hosts. The humor is silly and elicits the customary light chuckles and eye-rolls while still providing actual facts. I was most enlightened by the chapter on Americans and their massive front yards, a point of contention in our home since my American wife grew up with one, but has had to live ten years without since she moved with me to London. I loved the photographs included of French and Italian abodes that were quickly followed up with a Stepford row of houses in Tennessee that had nauseatingly pristine lawns. Also fun was the chapter on attics, particularly as I have one that is 180 years old and I have never popped my head into it in the 10 years we've been here...so why would I want to unleash THAT now? Maybe because it can look like the photo of the dream attic conversion that Tour of Insanity shamelessly flirts with and not just be a means of death by 180-year dust mite asphyxiation. This book is a load of laughs and I'm sure others who read it will feel the same way.

Lucinda E Clarke

Tour of Insanity by Matt Zakutny and Kelly Mitchell takes the reader on a journey around houses, town planning, and city ordinances from the earliest times to modern-day buildings. Many modern features have their roots in times long past, while other practices are more up to date. They begin with a discourse on carpets in bathrooms and other unsuitable places. What started the craze for installing unnecessary flooring in areas which would harbor germs, cause dangers and make for extra work? The authors answer many questions such as why don’t homeowners plant vegetables in their front yards, why laundry rooms are located downstairs, how to prevent extra wildlife from taking up residence in your home, and how and why garages and stoops are utilized? This short read concludes with points about the technology of the future and their likely impact on new buildings.

Few of us have stopped to consider why modern and upgraded houses are the way they are. In Tour of Insanity, Matt Zakutny and Kelly Mitchell give us an insight into how and why city ordinances have dictated rules and regulations from Roman times to the modern-day. Some are sensible and have improved our lifestyles, while others are just plain bureaucracy gone mad. It’s full of tips on how to upgrade your home while saving money and they also include costings, but more relative for the American market. It’s a fun book to read and I learned a lot about history, town planning, saving money, and eradicating pests. I particularly liked the pictures of the ‘indoor’ garages which are quite breathtaking – who would think to park their car next to the breakfast bar? A quick, fun read worth picking up, it’s education presented in bite-sized chunks with a hint of humor.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

A Tour of Insanity: A Manifesto of Better Home Design, true to the title, is a slightly unconventional guide to modern home architecture. Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny bring our attention to various aspects of home designs, starting from principal structures like basements and garages to seemingly trivial ones like an outdated attic or Juliet balconies. The book encompasses everything you would want to know, including what kind of glass to use in your living room window or how much you should spend on your kitchen flooring. A plethora of information regarding the property restrictions makes you aware of your rights. Finally, the inclusion of valuable reports on today’s “smart home” technology makes the book thorough and up-to-date, content-wise.

A short length and the modest declarations by the authors belie the book’s actual scope. In reality, this is a goldmine of essential information. The pages refer to the amusing and often downright hilarious age-old practices, whose remnants we are still carrying in our home architecture, albeit unknowingly. Mitchell and Zakutny then explain exactly what should be obsolete and what still serves a purpose. The use of short paragraphs, interspersed by bullet-points and eye-catching images from the internet, drives home the point while keeping within readers’ attention span. The subtle humor, thrown in between the necessary elements, ensures an exciting read. I will urge anyone opting to build or buy a home to go through A Tour of Insanity. Please read the book beforehand so that you can make an informed decision.

Patricia Reding

Add a bit of attitude, sass, and the occasional curse to a few minimal history lessons in how homes have been developing since the time of the Romans, and you get Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny's Tour of Insanity. The discussions cover some of the more obvious things we’ve all seen and questioned over the years, such as how carpeted bathrooms came about (what were they thinking—and for that matter, who would want carpeting in any portion of their home!) and why laundry rooms have historically been located in the basement of a home. Another chapter covers the concept of the American front lawn, where it came from, and how difficult it is to follow alternative ideas if you want to do something different in this age of Home Owners Associations. Indeed, it illustrates one of my main reasons for having chosen to live outside any such area. Add in details about blinds, garages, and attics, and it is safe to say that A Tour of Insanity covers questionable things you might find from your foundation to your roof.

I found the history included in Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny's Tour of Insanity interesting and, in some cases, potentially helpful. For example, of particular interest to someone who lives as I do in rural America, was the discussion on pest control. Meanwhile, as I read, I made notes of an additional idea that the authors might add to a follow-up work. For example, it is only in the last couple of years I have been able to find a toilet on the market that has straight, flat sides, so that dust and grime cannot get caught up in the twists and turns of the traditional models. (I have one left to replace in my house!) While this work will not help you solve all of your issues when designing your next home, if you’re looking for a fun discussion with some general information on the evolution of homes in general, look no further than Tour of Insanity.

Amanda Murello: Indie Today

https://indiestoday.com/tour-of-insanity-by-kelly-mitchell-matthew-zakutny/?fbclid=IwAR2chYmA0py7iOPocaCG7bfLnj8h17Qo13Uu2FbjJ6IBDYfRXOUwIshuKhE

A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, policy, motives, or views of the issuer. These are typically quite earnest, even fervent, and Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for better Home Design is no exception! This colorful exposition is one part home-improvement guide, one part history, and a whole lot of common sense. It includes some surprising historical and architectural facts that help uncover the mystery of several modern home vexations such as useless attic space, outdated and irrelevant building codes, and unfinished garages complete with the requisite unpainted drywall. And if all this hasn’t piqued your interest, there are some clever ideas to help make the space you live in more comfortable and more functional.

Tour of Insanity is not your typical home improvement book. It unquestionably skews more Tim Taylor than Bob Vila. The sardonic look at home design flaws of our forebears blends seamlessly with modern innovation to help homeowners come to terms with their options. Mitchell and Zakutny do a fantastic job of breaking down the monetary and time costs, along with our own unrealistic expectations, in this practical manual. After reading, you’ll certainly be spurred to action, starting with that disgusting carpet in your kitchen! Astute and acerbic, Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for Better Home Design is a must read for any first time homeowner or any long time homeowner who has ever been frustrated by the faux balcony impending the view from the upstairs windows. If you’re looking for a good laugh tempered with a bit of education, Mitchell and Zakutny have you covered with this witty book.

Saint Bruno: Online Book Club

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=177064


Have you ever looked around your home and questioned the practicality of some of the things in it? So many things in the design of our homes are not ideal in form and function. Hence, they end up bringing us unwanted stress.

Tour of Insanity: Manifesto For Better Home Design by Kelly Mitchell intends to help us understand why a design, form, or structure should be practical if it has to remain in our homes. The author discusses why ordinances can hinder prioritizing practicality when designing homes. She also seeks to give us the history behind why things are the way they are in our homes and calls on readers to abandon non-functional old ways of home design.

This 88-page book is rich in practical tips and advice. But what makes it fascinating is the author's comic tone and colorful writing style. I couldn't stop laughing throughout the read. I am a little envious of the people who know this author in person because her sense of humor is contagious. What could beat laughing and learning? I bet that I might not have benefited as much as I did from this book if another author had written it.

Furthermore, what I like the most about the book is the author's resourcefulness. She doesn't present only one way of solving a problem but gives two or three options so you can choose the one that suits you. For me, the highlight is that she provides estimates for the costs of some of the items or services needed to solve the issue. More so, I love that the author gives insights into some smart innovations in technology that homeowners, urban planners, and builders can take advantage of when designing homes.

Additionally, for every structure or design element the author discusses, she also gives readers a bit of the history behind it and how it has evolved or is evolving. There's one less person in the world who is ignorant of the facts in the book. Yes, I am talking about myself. For example, do you know how the Romans did their laundry in the nineteenth century? You can read the book to find out.

In conclusion, there is nothing I disliked about the book. I enjoyed every bit of it. Fortunately, it is also exceptionally edited. Therefore, it gladdens my heart to rate Tour of Insanity: Manifesto For Better Home Design 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to urban planners, tenants, homeowners, and anyone interested in functional home designs. And for the sake of entertainment, readers who want to be able to hold down a discussion based on the insane old ways of doing things in our homes would find this book very beneficial.

Bookishelf.com

https://www.bookishelf.com/the-tour-of-insanity-by-kelly-mitchell-and-matthew-zakutny/?amp=1

Kelly Mitchell along with Matthew Zakutny changed the way we look at our homes and espoused a philosophy that is as current today, as it was at the turn of the century.

In The Tour of Insanity, Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny take you on a whirlwind ride through the turn-of-the-century homes. I don’t know how they can make the history of the carpeted bathrooms sound so important, or make me care so much about laundries, attics and garages, but they do. They write about these things with vitality, with strong opinions, and occasionally with wit, too.

Kelly Mitchell is clearly a wordy, astute, and witty writer; though I enjoyed every bit of reading this short book, the humorous observations present in the text greatly helped and increased my enjoyment. Oftentimes, the tone was authoritative and witty. Taste is highly subjective and ultimately a semiotics of class and it oftentimes was apparent that Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny were trying to give practical advice on giving homes a pleasing, symmetrical, and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The book is structured with several chapters detailing design recommendations on how to design home. The book includes brief and interesting historical points of reference on how interior design elements evolved. The in-depth discussion of design reveals the lifestyle and preferences of the time which adds another layer of depth and interest to this book.

And, in the end, a lot of the advice in this book is just really useful. It more or less comes down to: let the plan of your house show through, rather than covering it up; each part takes its interest from the role it plays in the whole; save your exuberance for the most important and visible parts, and let the other parts support these; and most importantly, beauty is not decoration, it is use properly understood. Someone who is genuinely interested in that area will likely find this book informative and interesting.

BookishElf

https://www.bookishelf.com/the-tour-of-insanity-by-kelly-mitchell-and-matthew-zakutny/

Kelly Mitchell along with Matthew Zakutny changed the way we look at our homes and espoused a philosophy that is as current today, as it was at the turn of the century.

In The Tour of Insanity, Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny take you on a whirlwind ride through the turn-of-the-century homes. I don’t know how they can make the history of the carpeted bathrooms sound so important, or make me care so much about laundries, attics and garages, but they do. They write about these things with vitality, with strong opinions, and occasionally with wit, too.

Kelly Mitchell is clearly a wordy, astute, and witty writer; though I enjoyed every bit of reading this short book, the humorous observations present in the text greatly helped and increased my enjoyment. Oftentimes, the tone was authoritative and witty. Taste is highly subjective and ultimately a semiotics of class and it oftentimes was apparent that Kelly Mitchell and Matthew Zakutny were trying to give practical advice on giving homes a pleasing, symmetrical, and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The book is structured with several chapters detailing design recommendations on how to design home. The book includes brief and interesting historical points of reference on how interior design elements evolved. The in-depth discussion of design reveals the lifestyle and preferences of the time which adds another layer of depth and interest to this book.

And, in the end, a lot of the advice in this book is just really useful. It more or less comes down to: let the plan of your house show through, rather than covering it up; each part takes its interest from the role it plays in the whole; save your exuberance for the most important and visible parts, and let the other parts support these; and most importantly, beauty is not decoration, it is use properly understood. Someone who is genuinely interested in that area will likely find this book informative and interesting.