How to Invent Everything by Ryan North

How to Invent Everything

"How to Invent Everything is such a cool book. It's essential reading for anyone who needs to duplicate an industrial civilization quickly." --Randall Munroe, xkcd creator and New York Times-bestselling author of What If? The only book you need if you're going back in timeWhat would you do if a time machine hurled you thousands of years into the past. . . and then broke? How would you survive? Could you improve on humanity's original timeline? An...

Details How to Invent Everything

TitleHow to Invent Everything
Release DateSep 18th, 2018
PublisherVirgin Digital
GenreNonfiction, Science, Humor, History, Science Fiction, Time Travel

Reviews How to Invent Everything

  • Ryan North
    I wrote it! But I think it's the best thing I've ever written, so great work, past me. In all seriousness though, it was a lot of fun to research and write, and if reading it is anything close to as entertaining and educational as writing it was, I think you'll have a great time with it!
  • Katie
    3.5 stars -- I docked points for the entire bread/beer section, which referred to yeast as animals (????) -- they are fungi! (This is not a one-off either; there is an entire joke about this??) Except for that one glaring error, I really enjoyed this book, its tone, and its humor. The premise was so clever that I knew I wanted to make acquiring this book a priority at SDCC, and I'm fortunate to have gotten a signed copy! The premise: you have a t...
  • Diane Hernandez
    How to Invent Everything is “a complete cheat sheet to civilization”. You’re welcome.Beginning with hilarious FAQs about your new state-of-the-art FC3000 rental market time machine, the book then explains how to invent everything and restart civilization in case the machine breaks down in the past. It starts at a basic level of civilization, language, and continues all the way through making computers to do all the work. Along the way it to...
  • Peter Tillman
    This is an outline of the history of technology, presented as a manual for stranded time-travelers who had rented the FC-3000 time machine. It starts cute: “REPAIR GUIDE: There are no user-serviceable parts inside the FC-3000.” Oops.I think Arthur C. Clarke once remarked that the best evidence against the existence of time travel, was the remarkable absence of time travelers., it’s a clever hand...
  • Brian Clegg
    Occasionally you read a book and think 'I wish I'd thought of that.' This was my immediate reaction to Ryan North's How to Invent Everything. The central conceit manages to be both funny and inspiring as a framework for writing an 'everything you ever wanted to know about everything (and particularly science)' book.What How to Invent Everything claims to be is a manual for users of a time machine (from some point in the future). Specifically it's...
  • Clare Hutchinson
    This has a really fun premise - a guidebook on reinventing elements of modern civilization for a stranded time-traveller that does an entertaining job of explaining the basics of technology and historical progression. I learned a lot! I played along with a suspension of disbelief at first but then found I got easily annoyed at missing/skipping steps or instructions (how am I collecting all these gases? with beakers?), or thinking that such a thin...
  • Margaret Sankey
    This is a fun book which tracks closely with how I used to teach World History--let's domesticate some animals! Here's what you can do once you've got printing as a reliable technology! North lays out the prerequisites for humanity's most useful leaps and explains how to achieve them under primitive circumstances (we all *know* about penicillin, but how may people can isolate and propagate it?). All of this is told in an accessible, smart ass ton...
  • Herman Wu
    This guide should be required reading for not only time travelers but world-hoppers too. Steampunk Narnia yo.Ryan North did super good. The book is densely packed with a lot of diverse information, yet an engaging and easy read. And the little tidbits from the future were great (especially the heavily expanded "complete" periodic table that goes up to 172 instead of our lame current 118).Some sections are even pretty useful for someone stranded i...
  • Meg C
    Would you like to:• Domesticate wolves in as little as 18 years?• Play the Tetris theme on instruments you made yourself?• Create a calorie surplus, therefore creating the opportunity of having a person or persons whose sole job is to put shoes on horses?Well, have I got the book for you!If I still haven't sold you, let me also mention:• Upon its release, it was #1 on the non-fiction and science fiction bestseller lists.• It has footnot...
  • Steven
    Amazing Hilarious Informative This book deserves to be read in schools for the broad spectrum of information it doles out with humor & insight. It may be a fictional conceit/platform, but this book is great at teaching how history, technology, & society all interweave.
  • Terry
    Other books strive to give someone an enchiridion to rebuild after a disaster or if stranded on a desert island but few approach the task with such emphasis on the basics as well as the humor as this one does. The book starts with a very low base, like how to invent non-sucky numbers, language, or other such things. The author posits that if one's goal in time travel were to move humanity forward the most the fastest, introducing anatomically mod...
  • Adam
    The premise: you traveled back in time, but now your time machine is broken. This book is the instruction manual to repair your time machine, but it turns out that repairing it is so complicated, it was deemed easier to teach you how to rebuild civilization from the ground up.First, the caveats: this may be more of what my dad used to call a "bathroom book" than something you'll want to read straight through. By necessity (just look at the title)...
  • Steve
    Disclaimer: I received this book from GoodReads as part of the First Reads program.This book is a total delight to read. That's all you need to know, but I'll go into some more detail. The book is a work of history, a work of science, a work of technology and a work of humor, all wrapped up in a veneer of science fiction. In an introductory note to the readers, the author claims to have found this book embedded in rock, made of an unknown indestr...
  • Matt
    I received this book as part of a First Reads promotion.First off, I really enjoyed this book. Very much a tongue-in-cheek look at what it would take if you were ever stranded in the distant past, this book mainly points out how incredibly long it took to discover (or rediscover) many of the technologies that we take for granted today. Going from the very basic (communication and writing) to the more complex (trigonometry and building computers),...
  • Billie
    If you ever need to rebuild civilization from the ground up, make sure you have Ryan North with you. If kidnapping is not your thing, then at least make sure you have this book. I wouldn't recommend taking the audio though, because if the power to your portable (music) listening device dies before you get around to "inventing" electricity and/or batteries, you're still screwed. Filled with really useful information (and some eye-rollingly bad pun...
  • Cale
    This book is extremely useful even if you're not a time-traveller stuck in the past. Ryan North manages to provide the fundamentals of civilization in a readable, entertaining manner. I never realized how much of civilization's advancements is stretched out over millennia for NO GOOD REASON. It has all of Ryan North's trademarks - a large number of footnotes, lots of fourth-wall breaking commentary, some subtle fictional undercurrents, and a lot ...
  • David Montgomery
    One part genuinely useful guide and one part humor, North (of "Dinosaur Comics" fame) presents a guide to reinvent lots of key elements of human life, everything from charcoal (surprisingly fundamental!) to hydroelectric power. It's pretty accessible and doesn't get bogged down in details, so if you ever actually find yourself trying to rebuild civilization from scratch with the help of this book, you may find yourself doing a lot of trial and er...
  • Nina Usherwood
    A fun book. Written with lots of humour. When sections that I am well aware the subject, the author includes many odd facts or amusing side stories. Truly if as the title suggest one was stuck in the past there is amazing amount of information to re-invent civilization. Inventions that nobody thought of until millennium after it was possible to develop the invention. For example the horse collar could be invented a thousand years before it was. T...
  • Kara
    A world history book framed as a how-to guide for the stranded time-traveler, allowing the reader to take credit for numerous inventions, depending how far back you get stuck. Two themes run though all the history - one - most inventions are capable to be made by almost anyone with low tech supplies, so reader should take hope that they can do anything, but - two - humans have taken an embarrassingly long time to figure out many, many basic conce...
  • Andrew Montgomery
    A truly excellent read. Through enjoyed reading it from cover to cover, which fit what is arguably an instruction manual is a testament to the writer in making it fun and engaging throughout. The snarky humour and the history lessons that accompany the knowledge of inventions being shared make the whole thing really interesting and engaging.I fit one feel much more prepared for the unlikely eventuality of being sent hurtling into the past.
  • Josh Hamacher
    I really enjoyed this; it wasn't quite as technical as I expected, but the humor made up for that. I'm not sure I'd want to try to restart civilization with just this single book, but it would serve as a great jumping-off point.
  • Harry Jahnke
    What a delightful book! I feel like I learned something *and* had a good time! Would highly recommend for fans of Stuff You Should Know. Funny, informative, and just might save my life if I find myself stranded back in time.
  • Kevin McPhillips
    Outstandingly clever. This book manages to teach you more mondaine things you didn’t realize you didn’t know in the most entertaining way. It’s a masterpiece and it’s the only thing I want with me if I get stuck in the past.
  • Blair Conrad
    Very funny, and broadly and shallowly educational. Read this, and you'll learn a lot. And if you enjoy Ryan North's voice (I felt I could hear Doreen delivering many of the lines), you'll have a very good time indeed. If you're not sure, try it.
  • Kathy
    This was a total delight and is my new desert island book. It almost makes you want to get stranded back in time, just to see if you could hack it. (I couldn't, of course, but I now believe I could make it further than I would have thought before.)
  • Patrick Book
    Creating society from scratch never seemed so possible!
  • Harriet
    Loved this! Funny and smart and fascinating.
  • Rena
    Excellent book. Just from the title, I knew this was going to be great for our family. My 16 year old son especially loves this. And it's funny!
  • Alex Ishkin
    A bit too many puns and jokes for a nonfiction, but overall great stuff
  • Steve
    This is awesome!Loved the perspective of "people wasted thousands of years doing this badly. Here's a way to do it better with the technology you probably already have"