Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon?  Randall Munroe is here to help.  In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:

food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)tall roads (bridges)computer buildings (datacenters)the shared space house (the International Space Station)the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)planes with turning wings (helicopters)boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)the bags of stuff inside you (cells)
How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone—age 5 to 105—who has ever wondered how things work, and why.

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we’ll navigate the path to publishing success.

3 Comments

  1. Great words about “Thing Explainer” It is a big book! It is a very good book! The thing about this book is that it only uses the ten hundred most used words by people to tell you about things that are hard to understand. It makes it sound kind of strange because you hear some words over and over again, but all in all, it is a very fun book to look at. 

  2. Great publishing quality — again, just like What If? Great publishing quality. Super-detailed drawings. Very rich — you can only consume small portions at a time, just like a wonderful dessert.

  3. great book! It takes a little while to get into the rhythm of the simple words, and then it feels almost natural. As usual, Randall’s writing and sketches are great. Bring a magnifying glass, because some of the illustrations and most of the text are small.I like the last phrase of the book’s text, in the credits section, with its tribute to his significant other, “Strong Pretty Ring-Wearer.”

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