How to Invent Everything

A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler
Narrated by: Ryan North
Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (230 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $31.95

Buy for $31.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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

What listeners say about How to Invent Everything

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    163
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    155
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    145
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    7

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't get through it

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • DM
  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, though you only get half of it.

There isn't a PDF so be prepared to be confused as he references lots of diagrams that you don't have. Still a fun read, but aggravating.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Everything I want in a book, unfortunately a lot of tables and diagrams

Ryan North kindly provides some extra material for the audiobook, but unfortunately does not make up for the fact that hearing him list the contents of a table I would scan in a few seconds any less boring. That being said, I love everything about the content of the book itself. It just doesn’t lend itself to a listening format.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Audiobook is fantastic

INFORMATIVE, PROFOUND AND LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY!!! How is this even possible in one book??? Mr. North, if by any chance you read this review, Please Please write a follow up. Annotation? And your narration was perfect ( I usually cringe when authors read their own books) - But yours was great.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptionally Good ™

I loved this book. The witty, banter-style instructional commentary kept me hooked from 00.00.01.