“Thing Explainer”

Randall Munroe

This was a really interesting book to read. The quick summary is that it explains things! (It’s a well-chosen title.) The trick is that it does so using line art and the 1,000 most-common words, in the style of Simple English Wikipedia. It’s a mix of genuinely useful information, decontextualization that feels like Strange Planet, and a surprisingly similar feeling to trying to read a book in a language in which you are not fluent. For as short a book as it is, it took me a long time to read it; I could only get through a few pages at a time, and then I had to go take a break to let my brain recover.

It is, however, quite fun to read. You’ll learn some things, and at the same time you’ll have a few moments of feeling proud of yourself for figuring out what the heck it’s trying to convey. It’s an educational puzzler. I had a lot of fun with it; check it out.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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