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Publisher's Summary

An NPR Best Book of 2018

"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 best-selling author of What If?)

The only book you need if you're going back in time

What 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? And how hard would it be to domesticate a giant wombat?

With this book as your guide, you'll survive - and thrive - in any period in Earth's history. Best-selling author and time-travel enthusiast Ryan North tells you how to invent all the modern conveniences we take for granted - from first principles. This manual contains all the science, engineering, art, philosophy, facts, and figures required for even the most clueless time traveler to build a civilization from the ground up. Deeply researched, irreverent, and significantly more fun than being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, How to Invent Everything will make you smarter, more competent, and completely prepared to become the most important and influential person ever. You're about to make history....better.

©2018 Ryan North (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Technically, we are all time travelers and we are all trapped. So, even if you happen to be scanning this blurb in what you perceive to be a 'normal' timeline, I heartily recommend you read this book cover to cover.” (Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and author of Soonish

“Brilliant conceit...a slyly funny piece of popular science writing.” (Glen Weldon, NPR’s Great Reads of 2018)  

“Hilarious and endlessly fascinating.... For the vast general population that might decide to trust their lives to the FC3000, this book is potentially invaluable (and mighty entertaining) one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about life, the universe, and the fly wheel.” (Christian Science Monitor

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What listeners say about How to Invent Everything

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Get the book

Very enjoyable, but not as an Audiobook. Lack of pdf with charts/diagrams/tables means much of the content is lost or hard to follow. It is still entertaining, but a big step down from what would be available with the visuals.

24 people found this helpful

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amazing book, not well suited for the audio format

I would highly recommend this book, but due to its nature I have to recommend getting the physical copy instead

7 people found this helpful

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  • 01-18-19

Wayyyy too much focus on the humor

It really beats the same tired joke to death instead of getting into what I thought the book was. It's like someone read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and watched Primitive Technology on YouTube and decided to smash them together in a mediocre book.

3 people found this helpful

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Couldn't get through it

If you enjoy reading manuals or listening to other people read manuals, this one's for you.

2 people found this helpful

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Spends way to much time trying to be funny

While this book is informative I found myself wanting to skip the author's long-winded attempts at humor (which were frequent) so I could get to the meat of the content.

2 people found this helpful

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Wasted 30 minutes before giving up

I had hoped to have a book that would actually tell me something about how to survive in the wilderness or learn about technologies in a practical way. Instead the author is so caught up in his own fictional time machine narrative that you can hardly get anything out of this book. I also couldn't stand the author's sense of humor, if you can call it that.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

An enjoyable and witty chrononaut survival manual.

Disclaimer: In the event you are stranded in an alternate worldline this isn't the only book to bring. Although quite comprehensive in rebuilding society's technology, it misses the necessary weapons, self defense, hunting techniques, political strategy. Maybe revision 2 will fix that? Or maybe society would be better without weapons.
Joking aside, this is a great look at how we all stand on the shoulders of giants. Our technology and harnessing nature's power is explained in sometimes excruciating but humorous details for the layperson. Although the visual depictions are missing, the narrator does a great job describing them. Clearly, this is geared for rebuilding western society. Complete with the snarky "It took this long for humans to develop xxxxx!?!" Written by disgruntled employees of Chrononaut Solutions. I recommend this book to anyone looking for perspective on our modern society.

1 person found this helpful

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Thoroughly enjoyed it!

This was the best books that I've read in a long time! it's fascinating to understand how to invent everything and the order in which things have to be invented. I can't wait for the sequel!

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Entertaining but maybe not what you expect

Full of dad jokes and interesting history. Dont go in expecting it to just be Primitive Technology. It covers humanities greatest inventions and discoveries and their histories, from things like nutrition to the most efficient farming practices. If you were to be plopped down 50,000 years ago, you would theoretically be able to jumpstart civilization by tens of thousands of years with the info here. The narration is also really well done.

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Love it, Love it

Now I can plan my ultimate survival fantasies with greater detail, as I drift off to sleep. I havn't a clue if it is all factual or not but it certainly is fascinating to study or even to skim over.