cover image Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World

Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World

Pagan Kennedy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-32400-8

Kennedy (Black Livingstone), former innovation columnist for the New York Times Magazine, examines the process of invention, wondering whether there is any formula for success. Kennedy interviews more than 100 inventors in different fields, asking who really does the work of invention, what we can learn from data on successful inventions, and what can be gained from emerging technologies such as 3-D printers. Along the way, she provides fascinating studies of numerous innovations, such as the rolling suitcase and color printing. Kennedy divides the book into five sections, each exploring a different strategy for invention: finding problems, discovery, prophecy, connecting, and empowerment. She also looks at how creative people channel frustration into solutions and explores the role of serendipity. Her interviewees recommend ways to think ahead of the curve and overcome self-doubt. The most absorbing chapter centers on “cross-pollinators”—people who carry ideas from one domain into another, thereby enabling new solutions. This book offers a new perspective into the process of invention that will inform and illuminate. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Jan.)