In his new book, Thing explainer:
complicated stuff in simple words, Randall Munroe uses the top ten hundred words in the language spoken most in the world and lots of pictures to explain how some things work. In a world with too many big words, this book is great. However, some of the top words, simple enough alone, are still changed for others and one of the big words that tell you what the book is (marked above) isn’t even in the top words! Despite several wrong word choices, Thing explainer hits the mark for interestingly explaining things.
Here are some of Munroe’s things explained that I liked best:
Tiny bags of water you’re made of
Everything living is made up of tiny bags of water. These bags are filled with smaller bags that do stuff such as store information, build new parts for the bag, and get things in and out of the bag. Sometimes, tiny bad things get into the bags and make you sick. When this happens, the bag may be killed to keep the tiny bad things from getting out.
A lifting room is a box in a tall hallway that carries people up and down in a building. It runs by a lifter on the top that powers pulling lines and weight lines that move the box up and down. Lifting rooms may be making people a bigger size because they are not using stairs.
Tall roads (strange since bridge is a top word)
Sometimes the ground drops down in a river or big hole that we cannot cross. In order to get across, we can building tall roads high above the ground. These roads may be bendy, thick, or tall. They may hang from above or held up from strong sticks below. Some places are known for their beautiful tall roads.
Picture taker (camera is also a top word)
Picture takers are machines that make pictures to let us remember things we see. Light comes in from the looker and a window opens and closes very quickly to let the light go through benders and reach the catcher. Picture takers today have a small computer that puts the light messages together and shows you what the light catcher is seeing on a screen.
The pieces everything is made of
Everything we can touch (“matter”–another top word) is made up of about one hundred tiny pieces, which are written in a table. Some of these pieces are metal and some are air. Some of the metals are gold, stuff teeth are made of, and the gray metal at the center of the earth. Some of the airs fill bags that fly on special days, color light-up signs, and let us breathe.
If you have a kid or family member always asking lots of questions, this book is especially perfect for them. If you are interested in space, land, machines, and other cool things, this book would also be great for you. With big pages (some that come out of the book), lots of pictures, and simple words, Munroe’s book is both rich in information and easy to understand. Read it with a beer or wine tonight (of course I had to fit those in!).
To try writing your own piece using just the top ten hundred words, check out: http://xkcd.com/simplewriter/.