Nonfiction That Shows You What It Means

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Sometimes you want to read something informative, but walls of text aren’t really your thing. Well here’s a list of books that will keep your interest with liberal amounts of photos and drawings throughout.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

The creator of the popular webcomic xkcd provides answers to his fans’ strangest questions. His responses gleefully and accurately explain everything from the relativistic effects of a baseball pitched at near the speed of light to the many horrible ways you could die while building a periodic table out of all the actual elements. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla, as eBook on Hoopla, as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby, and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed

Body art meets popular science in this elegant, mind-blowing collection, written by renowned science writer Carl Zimmer. Showcasing hundreds of eye-catching tattoos that pay tribute to various scientific disciplines, from evolutionary biology and neuroscience to mathematics and astrophysics, Science Ink reveals the stories of the individuals who chose to inscribe their obsessions in their skin. Best of all, each tattoo provides a leaping-off point for bestselling essayist and lecturer Zimmer to reflect on the science in question, whether it’s the importance of an image of Darwin’s finches or the significance of the uranium atom inked into the chest of a young radiologist.

The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions

In Japan, Kenji Kawakami is famous for his tireless promotion of Chindogu: the art of the unuseless idea. Kawakami has developed an entire philosophy around these bizarre and logic-defying gadgets and gizmos, which must work but are actually entirely impractical. Created in the spirit of anarchy, unuseless inventions are not allowed to be patented or sold. Fans of the unuseless will love this completely absorbing collection of 200 Chindogu, including the Drymobile (your laundry dries as you drive), the Solar-Powered Torch (never runs low on batteries), Duster Slippers for Cats (now the most boring job around the house becomes hours of fun…for your cat!), Walk ‘n’ Wash Ankle-Attachable Laundry Tanks (a perfect solution for the problems of inadequate exercise and hygiene), and many, many more… These hilarious inventions have taken Japan by storm. Every one of the 200 items innbsp;The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventionsnbsp;has actually been manufactured to the highest standards, fully tested by pioneering members of the Japanese public, and documented in their unuselessness with photographs

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir

In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee–comic book legend and cocreator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes–shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be. Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. The most legendary name in the history of comic books, he has been the leading creative force behind Marvel Comics, and has brought to life–and into the mainstream–some of the world’s best-known heroes and most infamous villains throughout his career. His stories–filled with superheroes struggling with personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity–added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good vs. evil. Lee put the human in superhuman and in doing so, created a new mythology for the twentieth century. In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir–illustrated by celebrated artist Colleen Doran–Lee tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy, and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. Moving from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comics, through his military training films during World War II and the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to the current resurgence in movies, Amazing Fantastic Incredible documents the life of a man and the legacy of an industry and career. This funny, moving, and incredibly honest memoir is a must-have for collectors and fans of comic books and graphic novels of every age.

Dear Data

Equal parts mail art, data visualization, and affectionate correspondence, Dear Data celebrates “the infinitesimal, incomplete, imperfect, yet exquisitely human details of life,” in the words of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), who introduces this charming and graphically powerful book. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via mail weekly–small portraits as full of emotion as they are data, both mundane and magical.Dear Data reproduces in pinpoint detail the full year’s set of cards, front and back, providing a remarkable portrait of two artists connected by their attention to the details of their lives–including complaints, distractions, phone addictions, physical contact, and desires. These details illuminate the lives of two remarkable young women and also inspire us to map our own lives, including specific suggestions on what data to draw and how. A captivating and unique book for designers, artists,correspondents, friends, and lovers everywhere.