Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Best Buy (Book): Thing Explainer

Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe

Winner.  This book is amazing.  Buy it.

Written by three times Hugo-nominee, Randall Munroe, Thing Explainer explains complicated stuff in simple words (with diagrams).  And not just in simple words, but using a vocabulary of only 1,000 of the most common words (used by the average English-speaking first-worlder).  The effect is sometimes funny (a "pointy cat" resembling a porcupine is depicted climbing a tree), but more often, highly illuminating!  Having the earth's surface broken down with coded maps representing "Places where there are lots of trees," "Places where a lot of people live," and  "Places where the earth shakes a lot," is illuminating for my homeschoolin' kids.  The map showing "Places where long spinning clouds reach down from storms and blow away houses" is funny and illuminating to all of us.  Having things like an iPhone's innards and the extraction of carbon fuels broken down into simple terms is helpful for me, guys.

There is a lot of text, but for a curious young (or otherwise!) mind, it is a treasure-trove of accessible information.  Some pages open up to reveal larger diagrams! (some are optionally pull-outs!).

I love this book.  Is that clear?  I love it.

Interesting things explained include microwaves, bridges, data centers, the solar system, the periodic table, and tectonic plates!  But remember: the book will call them by other names -- like..."the big flat rocks we live on."  (Yes, this means when older readers are expected to understand the actual vocabulary and terminology described this book is probably best read alongside their science textbook, but I don't think it becomes redundant at all).  We are still devouring this masterpiece page by page, and will for years to come.
I think this book is a great gift-book book.  GREAT.  If you know someone around 7+ who often asks "How?" you may just have found the book that often answers.  Available in bookstores as of today!
Large Hardcover RRP = $39.99

Review copy from Hachette.
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