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Randall Munroe Books In Order

Publication Order of Collections

xkcd: volume 0 (2009)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe is a graphic novel and comics writer best known for his debut novel What If. Munroe is also the creator of XKCD, math, language, romance, and sarcasm webcomic, and author of a book by the same name. The talented author worked with NASA as a roboticist before retiring to start his webcomic. His website became so popular that it received over half a million visitors every day. Most of Munroe’s fans are science geeks curious to find scientific answers to everyday life’s problems and other bizarre situations. Munroe is also a respected name in the science world, such that an asteroid was named after him by The International Astronomical Union. Currently, Munroe resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What If?
What If is a collection of absurd hypothetical questions and their scientific answers. Randall Munroe draws from his knowledge of maths and physics to answer these questions in a simple yet funny way. After leaving Nasa in 2005, Munroe started XKCD, a webcomic where he offered witty answers to some of the questions coming up from the world of geeks. Over time, fans of the site started posing questions that they wanted the talented physicist to answer. These questions inspired him to write this book. The answers are witty, smart, and best of all, hilarious. For any geek or Monroe fan, the wit in these answers will not come as a surprise.

How long would a human being survive if their cells would suddenly stop dividing? Is it dangerous to swim in a thunderstorm, and why? How fast can you drive through a speed bump and live? The writer answers these questions in the course of the book. She uses computer simulations, declassified military research, and information from nuclear reactor operators to get his answer. The responses are characterized by clarity, hilarity, and funny cartoons and infographics. Surprisingly this is a easy to read book. While it is packed with a decent serving of science, it is not as mentally taxing as many would expect. Don’t be surprised if you keep moving from one question to another without feeling fatigued.

There is a lot to love in this book. First, the author offers simple answers to complex concepts. This is something that many writers struggle with. You will also be surprised by how the author draws you in and keeps you reading. No topic is too absurd for this author. If you want to find out what would happen if you only had one soulmate, the author will answer this and more. This book also provides an opportunity for XKCD fans to have all those questions and answers on the platform in print so they can read and re-read them whenever they want. Even if none of these questions have ever crossed your mind, you will like this book. You will also be curious to find out what would happen if the same were to become a reality.

What If is more than a book for geeks. It is perfect if you are looking for a fun yet smart read. Even if you are not a science fun, you will find Munroe’s answers intriguing, and the questions are at times outright hilarious. The illustrations make it even more fun, not to mention the logical answers to very hard to answer questions. Some of these questions will also take your brains on overdrive as you imagine humanity’s fate if we were to face some of the scenarios discussed here. It is also notable that the book ends on such a positive note despite some of the disturbing answers.

Thing Explainer
Thing Explainer gives simple explanations to 47 complicated things. The explanations are done using simple words that even young minds not so exposed to science can understand. Aside from simple vocabulary, the author also uses simple drawings to make things clearer for the readers. This does not mean this reads like a children’s book, far from it. Science geeks will find the author’s explanations hilarious since they understand the message he is trying to put across. Still, it is impressive that Monroe is able to find words to describe these things in such a simple way.

In this book, animal cells are described as tiny bags of water, while a microwave is referred to as a food-heating radio box. Other hilarious wordings include Sky boat with turning wings for Helicopters, Shape checker for Padlock, machine for burning cities for Nuclear Bombs, and the pieces everything is made of for the Periodic table. While most people who know what the author is talking about will find the descriptions hilarious, those who are not knowledgeable about the subjects will find the information invaluable. The book is a great resource for children curious to learn a thing or two about the world they live in.
The explanation of the periodic table remains one of the most outstanding parts of the book. Elements start with “the green burning air that kills” to “stuff that lasts for the time it takes you to close and open your eyes.” For you to get the humor behind the naming, you must understand the periodic table and the name of each element. The descriptions of body cells and how the body works is also intriguing. Imagine if parts like the Golgi bodies, mitochondria, lysosomes, and other body parts were named bag shapers, empty pockets, and little builders?

Thing Explainer should serve as inspiration for authors who find it hard to explain complex concepts. Imagine simplifying everything to a level that a ten-year-old can understand how the car operates? The education system would be transformed, and many kids would be more interested in science. While this sounds like an impossible task, this author has proven that it can be done. He explains how everything from Sky Touchers (skyscrapers) to lifting rooms(elevators) work is amazing. The cartoons are also fun, and they come with inside jokes and puns that adults are sure to enjoy.

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