Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

A brilliant examination of literary inventions through the ages, from ancient Mesopotamia to Elena Ferrante, that shows how writers have created technical breakthroughs—rivaling any scientific inventions—and engineering enhancements to the human heart and mind.

Literature is a technology like any other. And the writers we revere—from Homer, Shakespeare, Austen, and others—each made a unique technical breakthrough that can be viewed as both a narrative and neuroscientific advancement. Literature’s great invention was to address problems we could not solve: not how to start a fire or build a boat, but how to live and love; how to maintain courage in the face of death; how to account for the fact that we exist at all.

Wonderworks reviews the blueprints for twenty-five of the most powerful developments in the history of literature. These inventions can be scientifically shown to alleviate grief, trauma, loneliness, anxiety, numbness, depression, pessimism, and ennui—all while sparking creativity, courage, love, empathy, hope, joy, and positive change. They can be found all throughout literature—from ancient Chinese lyrics to Shakespeare’s plays, poetry to nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and crime novels to slave narratives.

An easy-to-understand exploration of the new literary field of story science, Wonderworks teaches you everything you wish you learned in your English class. Based on author Angus Fletcher’s own research, it is an eye-opening and thought-provoking work that offers us a new understanding of the power of literature.

Title:Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature
ISBN:9781982135973
Format Type:

    Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature Reviews

  • Nancy

    I was intrigued by the idea of "literary" inventions. Angus Fletcher has studied and dissected how the psychological impact of literature, and what literature does to achieve that impact.It's what fir...

  • Peter Tillman

    Here's the author's article on the book at the Smithsonian magazine, which amounts to an extended preview/advert for his new book: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innova...It sounds pretty cool. Idea g...

  • Susan Tunis

    This is a long and dense book, but any effort expended in the reading is exponentially rewarded. By the time I reached the end, I felt like I'd absorbed an entire college course worth of knowledge!The...

  • Grace

    The concept of this book was super interesting, and as an avid reader and occasional dabbler in writing, I thought it was really cool to explore writing's "inventions". The breakdown as to the how beh...

  • Teresa Grabs

    I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I read Wonderworks's description, but I love learning about literature through the ages, so I was excited to read it. Beginning in Mesopotamia and traveling t...

  • Lora Milton

    This is an examination of literary inventions through the ages of great use to students of literary devices. I loved how each section makes a point, but does it in a storytelling voice to tell the his...

  • Diane Hernandez

    Wonderworks has a unique concept. Let’s look across time and place to find twenty-five literary tools that most impact writing today. Then, show how they began to be used and how they continue to be...

  • John Girard

    This was really good.The only reason for docking it one star: I don’t think the framing of “inventions of literature” really worked. It feels like something either the author fell in love with a...

  • Rachel Swisher Ray

    This book combined three topics that deeply interest me: literature, innovation, and (neuro)science. I appreciated the innovative premise of this book: a scientific analysis of some of history’s mos...

  • Kristjan

    This is a very interesting review of several [25] literary devices that apparently have neurological explanations for why they are so effective. It is this physiological connection that I found most i...