How to Invent Everything

A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler

paperback, 480 pages

Published Sept. 16, 2019 by Riverhead Books.

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4 stars (10 reviews)

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. Bestselling author and time-travel enthusiast Ryan North shows you how to invent all the modern conveniences we take for granted—from first principles. This illustrated 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 …

4 editions

Having gone back in time, now create a civilization so you can rebuild your time machine, and repeat. :-)

4 stars

A fun book that uses the premise of a time traveller stranded in the past and having to make the best of things by starting off humanity on the path of civilization. The means of doing this is by bypassing the trial and errors that humanity went through and going straight to the solutions needed to set up a working modern civilization.

The book starts off with tips for the stranded time traveller to find out where and when he might be. Assuming the traveller is lucky and ends up in a certain time period where modern man was around, but civilization hasn't been established yet, the book goes on with the basis of setting up a civilization, namely getting a spoken and written language, a 'rational' system of numbers and establishing the scientific method.

Farming is then introduced so that people's basis calorie needs are satisfied and can devote …

Review of 'How to Invent Everything' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

While this book was really informative and entertaining, and I'll definitely be using it for worldbuilding reference, there are a few things that kept me from giving it five stars:
* The jokes got a little repetitive. But if you spread out the reading over a few months this is fine.
* There is precious little social science, which I thought was a pretty glaring omission considering North's training in linguistics. Where is the advice about how to build coherent, healthy societies and families? How to prevent income disparities and provide universal education? We're trying to build a civilization here!
* Some of the science he includes is out of date, or reflects commonly held assumptions instead of the latest research. For example, he suggests that farming is essential to prevent famine and reduce the amount of time you have to spend gathering food, but really a better way to …

Review of 'How to Invent Everything' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

This book had so much potential yet left me so disappointed. It definitely had interesting information, but it was surrounded by so much junk. Did you know that chili peppers are spicy? And did you know that chickens lay eggs and mosquitoes are bad? Then like me, you might be disappointed to find out that there are about 40 pages (more than 10% of the book!) of random obvious facts about plants and animals in this book. Do we really need a whole chapter telling us that language is important? I feel that this book is more a victim of bad editing than bad writing. The book is "How to Invent Everything". If it's not telling you how to invent something, cut it out and make room for more inventing.

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