by Randall Munroe
Hardcover, 64 pg.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
I’m not sure what to say about this beyond just regurgitating the Publisher’s Description. If that’s not enough to make you want to pick this up for at least a glance, I don’t think I could say anything that will.
But, quickly, the idea behind the book is that using drawings/diagrams and the 1,000 most commonly used words to explain how various and sundry things work — from ball-point pens to the Large Hadron Collider, and many points in between and beyond.
The artwork is like what you see on xkcd, the humor is similar — more broadly appealing (I think), however. The material is educational. That’s about it in a nutshell. I guess I should state that the artwork isn’t like the stick figure comics, it’s the incredibly detailed diagrams that show up at other times.
To give you a taste, some of the entries I found most educational/interesting/amusing were: Shape Checker (padlock); Bags of Stuff Inside You (internal organs); Hand Computer (smart phone); Stuff You Touch to Fly a Sky Boat (airplane cockpit). From Cover to Cover (literally) Munroe’s drawings will be teaching you a little more about how things work.
This is not a sit down and read cover-to-cover kind of book, period. It’s a grab it every now and then, flip through until you get to a page or two (or six) that you haven’t read, or one you have and want to re-read. I’m just leaving this around for my kids (and myself) to pick up from time to time. I wish I could’ve got a picture of the expression on my youngest’s face just now as he was reading through the book, I could’ve not said a word and simply posted it — I’m not sure how much he understood, but he was fascinated. I’d gladly buy a sequel — actually, I could probably use one.