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The Invention of Everything Else

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,556 ratings  ·  325 reviews
New York City thrums with energy, wonder, and possibility in this magical novel about the life of Nikola Tesla.

It is 1943, and the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla occupies a forbidden room on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, stealing electricity. Louisa, a young maid at the hotel determined to befriend him, wins his attention through a shared love of pigeons; with he
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Leslie Evans
When I worked at Barnes & Noble, I would occasionally glance at the learning packets sent to all employees company-wide. In a particularly annoying campaign aimed at bringing us wee booksellers into an assumed corporate culture of Book Lust, they introduced us to a term that I despised from the get-go.


Un-put-down-able. Adjective. The otherwise indescribable characteristic of a book that keeps its reader's face glued between its pages. Recommended for use: During sales when a pe
Where do I even start about how good this book is? I mean first of all it's the best book I've read so far this year. It features many things I love: historically-accurate descriptions of New York City landmarks, NIKOLA TESLA, a love story, government spies, time travel, and that's just to get us started.

I think what it is, it's just that Samantha Hunt writes complete fabric. This is a short book but it is extremely dense, you don't want to miss anything and nor should you. I'm kind of a speed-
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was beautiful in concept, containing a genius (real-life) scientist, time-travel, romance, and espionage, but somehow I had trouble staying interested. The narrative jumped around a lot and was mostly written in present tense, which I found oddly off-putting. The writing was swirly and ambiguous, filled with ambitious metaphors. But still, I'm not sure why I wasn't captivated by this book and the beautiful writing. The author did an excellent job of ...more
"God said, 'Let Tesla be,' and all was light."
- B. A. Behrend

Nikola Tesla is arguably one of the most important inventors to have ever lived, yet one of the most unsung. To him, we can credit the efficient alternating electrical current system, the remote control, and the radio (although Marconi stole the patent for that last one). He harnessed Niagara Falls' energy potential, is credited with giving birth to robotics, and his "Tesla Coil" gave us neon and fluorescent lighting and x-ray photogra
Kevin Fanning
Here, we'll just use the email I sent to Meg after finishing this:

I really wish The Invention of Everything Else came with a director's
commentary DVD because I don't know how you write a book like this.
Each of the strands in the story is kind of like a perfect little
piece of art, and she just places them perfectly, and you're like Wow,
what is she going to do with that later, I wonder? And she's like No.
Nothing. Just look at it. And you're like YES. Like she knows exactly
how and when and where to
For the first 100 pages, I absolutely adored 'The Invention of Everything Else'. I was just waiting for things to come together, but the writing was beautiful and the setting and the details and the pigeons and Freddie. But the thing is, things never seemed really to get together for me. There were two plotlines, Tesla's and Louisa's and they weren't as interwoven as I'd have liked them to be. I started to realize this during the last 50 pages, where I understood that there was no time left to b ...more
THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE. (2008). Samantha Hunt. **.
The novel has an interesting premise, but the delivery was faulty. It’s the story of the last days of Nicola Tesla, and the friendship that developed between him and a chambermaid that worked at the New Yorker Hotel where he spent the remaining part of his life. Tesla, to tickle your memory, was a great inventor who did not receive credit for much of his work because he didn’t reduce most of it to practice. He is credited with the inve
Jason Lundberg
An astonishingly beautiful evocation of 1940s New York City, and the last days of Nikola Tesla, as befriended by Louisa, a chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker. Poignant and gorgeously told, with an honest enthusiasm for the age of invention, brought to a screeching close by the advent of corporations and the commodification of the natural world. Hunt manages to bring Tesla to life through his interactions with Louisa, his long-term relationship with a pet pigeon, and his letters to Samuel Clemen ...more
"Everybody steals in commerce and industry. I've stolen a lot myself. But I know how to steal." Thomas Edison

An understatement, to say the least.

I'm a few chapters into this marvelously imagined and deftly written novel, which pivots around extraordinary inventor Nikola Tesla - a man clearly more interested in the landscape of ideas than receiving fame or credit for his inventions - and an unlikely relationship that develops with a young chambermaid. Pigeons feature prominently. A brilliant rea
This was fun. It's about Nicola Tesla, but it's part historial fiction and part fantastical fiction but it works. Tesla is an often under-credited inventor, who invented wireless communication and alternating current electricity. So why is it that Marconi and Edison are who we know for these inventions? Essentially because Tesla was inventing, but not patenting. He was concerned with the ideas and sharing them, but missed out on capitalism.
My dad really liked Tesla. I wish I could have a convers
“The Invention of Everything Else” was a beautifully written story – the kind of story that I would aspire to writing because it so masterfully combines lovely imagery with brilliant and inspiring ideas: it is both a poem and a philosophy, a soul and a story, depicting love, life, and all of the most touching interstices therein.
This book really whetted my appetite to learn more about Tesla. What a fascinating man. I wish he were here with us today to help solve the energy crises. Hunt's book is fanciful, entertaining, well-researched and well-written.
switterbug (Betsey)
Samantha Hunt's novel is an historical fiction surrounding the last months of the life of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current electricity. His life was much obscured by the better known Thomas Edison; however, as this book well illuminates, Edison was more rigid, conforming, capitalistic. It is a story about creativity, artistic inspiration, and imagining the unimaginable. What happens if the spirit can transcend into reality? What if a powerful intuition can link us to something i ...more
Linda Robinson
I had invented reasons not to like this book. Any woman who is on any list of fabulous under 35 raises my eyebrows. And my super-sensory fault-finding devices. It's historical fiction, which I claim not to like out loud regularly. I loved this book. The electricity that plays both a protagonist and antagonist role zizzes on every page. Tesla is wholly imagined, as though he is sitting in a chair next to you reading the book, correcting impressions, making suggestions. Louisa is human and otherwo ...more
It's been a while since I had published a book review. In fact, it was 17 days since I published the last book review I had. And there is a reason for that.

The thing is, I am one of those people in which I cannot leave a book half-read. Even if I disliked the book, I would try to read it all the way to the end, with the hope that somewhere in the middle, the book would change a bit, and I would come to like it. Most of the times, the books would turn out that way, you know, those books that just
Julie Whelan
This is a very interesting book combining biographical and historical and even sci fi aspects. The main characters are Nicholas Tesla the physicist and inventor, Louisa, a chambermaid at the Hotel New Yorker; Walter, Louisa's father, a night watchman at the New York Public Library and Azor, Walter's friend since boyhood. The struggles of Nicholas Tesla to come to the U.S. and develop his inventions (notably AC current) are painful. Thomas Edison uses him cruelly, others befriend him (J.P. Morgan ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have found myself thinking about it in the weeks since I finished it. Before I read the book, I read someplace that this would be a hit with fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, and I can see why that connection was made. While this novel doesn't have lovers shuttling back and forth in time, the element of time travel is one of the secondary plotlines, but thankfully not in a geeky annoying science fiction way, thankfully.

The story revolves around Louisa, a young
What a beautiful book! Scientists, love, inventors, and curiosity, held in an air of magic. The characters, are just lovable, every single one of them, the pigeons are, what the heck are they? I don't know but they BELONG! Disappointments, sorrow, joy, discovery, it is all in this little novel, rich with imagery, and hope.
Finney Jean Soda
Samantha Hunt is a very gifted writer.

Fact and fiction, science and imagination, life and death (oh, and love and love) are blurred. Hunt brings Tesla to life -- so much so that I considered dropping by the New Yorker for a visit. Everyone is so goddamn likable in Hunt's head (except Edison, though I guess he had it coming to him) that I was smitten for several days. Beautiful, funny, sad, and well-told; I think you ought to read it. However, I would not recommend this book if you are against pi
So I started this book, had no idea what was going on, forgot what happened, then started again. When I did, I really read it and I was shocked by how good it was. There's a ton of technical language that I'm not sure if it even makes sense but it sounds cool. I know Nikola Tesla was a real person but what else in the book is real, I'm not sure. I liked the way the book was written. I liked the little details, the many famous people mentioned. I liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. ...more
Todd Stockslager
Skirting that edge of fantasy and fictionalized biography limned by Jane Mendelsohn in I Was Amelia Earhart, Hunt's slim novel traces the trajectory of Nikola Tesla's life and invention of alternating current electricity. Fantastic things happen, some real, some imagined, some happy, most tragic and profound.

Throughout, Tesla is (almost) unremittingly eccentric, continually inventive, and painfully unadapted to any understanding of human psychology and society, outliving his big invention and it
I read this book in 2012 after I heard an interview with Samantha Hunt on Studio 360 ( This podcast aired first aired on January 25, 2008 and was rebroadcast on January 27, 2012. It occurred to me as I was listening to the interview that Tesla must have been an introvert and an HSP - highly sensitive person, according to Elaine Aron's research ( I have both of these traits, and was very motivated to learn about Tesla after learning from the ...more
Hanna Smith
I did not enjoy this book at all. I could not finish it, it was not entertaining and the author rambles. Would not recommend.
Interesting. Really well written, I thought, with whatever-you'd-call-it (magical realism? touches of fantasy? flashes of psychosis? I don't like that last one, but I'm not sure it's not true) seamlessly interwoven with the sorts of human connections that feel oh so very real and true. Not all my questions were answered in the end, and that's fine, in this case, though it usually bugs me. Even though there were one or two places where the internal logic of the story didn't seem to track properly ...more
Nikola Tesla: forgotten giant, mad scientist, father of electricity. However you want to call him, it is certain that he has played an unforgettable role in creating our electric-centric world. After all he did invent alternating current, the electric system which now runs the planet.

This remarkable impact on modern civilization, however, has been overshadowed by the capitalist titan Thomas Edison and hindered by Tesla’s own social ineptitude. As a consequence, many may not even know who he is.
εlﻨբ ツ
Tesla! Zamanının çok ötesinde bir dahi. Bir kez daha hayran kaldım size bayım.
Samantha Hunt has this subtle but powerful story-telling prowess. Here, I found the many facets of love though, this isn't a romance novel.

I felt Louisa's first stirrings of love-- until it solidifies-- for Arthur, felt Walter's lingering and yet enduring love for Freddie (though, in-universe, she's been gone 26 years) and here I felt the impossible love Nikola has for Katharine. And for a moment, it all felt so real as if these feelings were genuinely mine. That they originated from me. Then,
I loved this book. It's got many moving parts and celebrates the joy of making not money, but things that work. The architecture of the book is inventive, driven by curiosity and compassion, the urge to fly and the desire to love and be loved. I followed along happily.
What a great book! I was lost in 1943 as I followed the protagonist through her ritual of cleaning the rooms at the Hotel New Yorker...

And if you haven't seen The Prestige, I suggest you do... as Nikolas Tesla is in that movie as well....
Jun 18, 2009 Adi is currently reading it
Shelves: paused
It's about Nikola Tesla, who was AWESOME, but reading a novel based on someone real is weird--I keep wondering how much of it is based on fact and how much is complete imagination. So far so good, though.
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Mr Tesla 2 31 Dec 15, 2008 09:25PM  
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Samantha Hunt was born in 1971 in Pound Ridge, New York, the youngest of six siblings. She was raised in a house built in 1765 which wasn't haunted in the traditional sense but was so overstuffed with books— good and bad ones— that it had the effect of haunting Hunt all the same. Her mother is a painter and her father was an editor. In 1989 Hunt moved to Vermont where she studied literature, print ...more
More about Samantha Hunt...
The Seas Mr. Splitfoot The Yellow My Inventions and Other Writings McSweeney's #11

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“I'll just tell you what I remember because memory is as close as I've gotten to building my own time machine.” 16 likes
“Wait," I say. "I think you're mistaken. Saying there is no dream is the same as saying everything is a dream. Isn't it? Everyone's a dreamer? Extraordinary things happen all the time even when we're awake. What I meant to suggest to you, if indeed that was me in your dream doing the suggesting, is that there is only one world. This one. The dream is real. The ordinary is the wonderful. The wonderful is the ordinary.” 11 likes
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