Book review 12) Thing Explainer


Cover of the book Thing Explainer

Randall Munroe is a great guy. Creator of XKCD (totally free nerd comics) and the author of What If which you can also read on the internet maybe only some parts… Now one day about two weeks ago I noticed in our school library that they bought his “new” book Thing Explainer. I wanted to buy it earlier but I found out that it costs like almost two new books and was quite discouraged (and I did not have the money anyway). So for some reason the people in the library bought it and I have read it in few days.

Book: Thing Explainer

Author: Randall Munroe

Genre: Science

Pages: dunno

Rating: 10/10

Thing Explainer is a book that explaines complicated stuff in simple words, simple means ten hundred most used words. Great idea I admit. Randall says that when he was younger he purposefully used complicated words so that nobody thought about him, that he did not know them, but in this book he does not need to care about it.

Inside you can find explanations of: Saturn V (Up Goer Five), Keyhole (Shape Checker), Periodic table, Sun, Washing maschine, Car and many many more. There are I think two or three double pages which extend the books already giantic size to double and the page about Skyscraper (Sky toucher) is of the format A2

1000 words is not much. Most technical terms do not exist and even if you know them IRL (in real life) you may find yourself wondering what some things mean. “Fire water” took me some time indeed. Or helium is “kind of air that makes your voice funny”.

Basically there is no objection from me, hopefully the author will write 2nd part since there is lot of stuff outhere that still needs to be covered!

Here is in the same style Einstein and Theory of Relativit explained.
Here is Up Goer Five.

This video is from Minute Physics about getting to space:


4 thoughts on “Book review 12) Thing Explainer

  1. I read ‘Thing Explainer’. I think the idea of restricting vocabulary makes the concepts harder to understand because the terms that have to be used to describe them in 1000 words of vocab are not the ones that we usually use. To my thinking learning specific terms(such as rocket) is part of the art of learning the concepts. So ‘Thing Explainer’ does only half the job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point, most people know the words anyway.. he said in the beginning that the words are definitely part of the learning process and we could not communicate the concepts otherwise. I found it funny at least and since I knew lot of the terms I connected it together in the end. I guess if small kid was reading it maybe it would be just confusing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That confusing part for small kids was my gripe. I’ve written kids non-fiction books and the secret isn’t limiting the vocabulary, it’s organising the content on the basis that the reader may have no knowledge at all of the subject.

        Liked by 1 person

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