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, History, Humor, 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Charles
    I enjoyed this book, a somewhat smug but informative trip through the technologies that create and enhance civilization. It even has a clever frame—what would you do if you were stuck in the past due to a time machine failure? (You must end up in a past where there were other humans but no civilization; a helpful flow chart makes clear that ending up in other time periods will not lead to a lengthy life for you.) Everything from food production...
  • Ric
    When reading this, I couldn’t help but think of What If? by Randall Munroe, because it’s a similar kind of book except it’s written in a very different way and it’s way more practical. Instead of answering hypothetical questions, it was a guidebook for someone who wants to restart society when stuck in the past. It was full of quips and one-liners that made me laugh out loud. My favorite running gag was that any quote mentioned in the boo...
  • 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...
  • Christina
    Specialization gives the people in your civilization the opportunity to go further in any direction of study than any other human has gone before. It unlocks doctors who can devote their entire lives to curing disease, librarians who can devote their entire lives to ensuring the accumulated knowledge of humanity remains safe and accessible, and writers who, fresh out of school, take the first job they find and devote the most productive years of ...
  • Stephanie
    An Entertaining Enterprise: HOW TO INVENT EVERYTHING is what you need to reinvent civilization and technology if your time machine strands you in the past.I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.This book is great fun, and has lots and lots of cool information that certainly would come in hand...
  • Daniel
    One major reason you might check this book out is that you've enjoyed one or more of Ryan North's other writing projects. If that's the case, I can only imagine that your expectations are calibrated correctly to really enjoy this book alongside his other work.This is, in a way, one book packaged as another, and both ingredients are key to how enjoyable it is.What make the book fun is the time travel setting and "voice" it uses. The book is docume...
  • 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...
  • Libby
    Pleased as punch to now have so many things named after me, thanks to having this guide to inventing them in the past and having used this book to repair my time machine by thwapping it soundly upside the processor. The only sad thing is that I never learned how to invent flutes, but having an entire family of Weber Trombones makes for a super-bright brass lining to that very tiny cloud. Overall, an A++++ guide to human civilization and doing stu...
  • Daniel
    I love this book. It is basically an outline of human inventions from the beginning to the early 50s ish. Told as a troubleshooting guide for misplaced Time Travelers, But it is told with a smile and wink and has a ton of tidbits and trivia that I thoroughly enjoy. It is at its heart a reference guide to how the simple things we take for granted are done. With small chapters and brief asides its the perfect "bathroom book". Highly recommended.
  • Jeremy
    I found the book to be quite enjoyable. It was a fun read, full of interesting facts and a lot of wit. Of course, this isn’t a book that will change your life, but it did give me more appreciation for things in our world we take for granted. The writing itself is great, and the small chapters make it easy to dive in.
  • Gary B
    A helpful primer on how to invent everything!I found the progression interesting, along with the prerequisites found in the "technology tree".Most fascinating was how long it took humanity to discover or develop some abilities or technologies, and how often skills and knowledge was lost before being rediscovered centuries or decades later.
  • Tanner
    If you've ever played Civ and thought, gosh, it would really be quite interesting enough if it was just the technology tree, this is the book for you. Pretty funny too, if a little more repetitive than when North gets to play with characters.
  • Kristen Thorp
    Learning and laughing = winning combo. North is the king of footnotes.
  • Aleksandar Karamfilov
    Amazing book! If you need to read only one book to understand the world and the history of human kind this will be it.
  • Hayden Lane
    This book was a lot of fun!
  • Chad Hurd
    Whether I already knew the material, or not, this was an entertaining read. A lot of knowledge, sprinkled with humour, and delivered in a unique format.
  • 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.
  • Stuart Fraser
    As someone who has previously devoured everything by Ryan North I could get my hands on, I was thrilled by this informative and pun-filled book. North suffuses all of his work with the kindness of a nerdy dad whose jokes are never offensive and whose sense of optimism is buoyed by how random and slow technological development was. While the how-to manual parts are excellently written (North is great at technical details), what I enjoyed most abou...
  • Lord_Humungus
    Review in English (not my mother tongue) and Spanish (below).ENGLISHThis book is similar to "The Knowledge". Both use an excuse to detail the foundations of technology. The excuse is different: in "The Knowledge" it is a catastrophe that produces a collapse of civilization, and the reader has to restart it. In "How to Invent Everything" it's a breakdown in a time machine that has traveled to the past.Both books are very interesting and entertaini...
  • 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...
  • Michael Burns
    Greetings denizens of the burning hellscape of 203- Wait a second. Society is still in one piece. I overshot. Oh well, no point crying about wasted chronotons. Maybe I can convince humanity to be proactive about threats… Well it’s worth a shot anyway.Greetings perfectly safe and ordinary and not at all doomed denizens 2018 and 19! I come bearing the good news of a ‘self help’ book from the future. Gaze upon it in wonder! Gaze! How to Inve...
  • Linda
    How to Invent Everything is a delightfully useful book. One could read it straight through, as I just did, and be amused by the Douglas Adams-like world of bureaucracy Ryan North spins around the FC3000™ Time Machine and its company's refusal to accept any legal liability for stranding the reader at an undetermined point in the earth's past. (Also, there's a bit of drama about Chad. Ugh, Chad.) OR, one could do what I plan to do, which is purch...
  • 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)...