whatiffeature

On Our Bookshelves: What If?
Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

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BOOK: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

AUTHOR: Randall Munroe

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014

REVIEW:

This book is exactly what it says it is. If you’ve ever wondered how close you would have to be to a supernova to get a lethal dose of neutrino radiation, or what would happen if lightening stuck a bullet in midair, or, if every human being somehow disappeared from the Earth, how long the artificial light would last…this book is for you. You will get a detailed, erudite, delightfully nerdy answer to these and many more questions. If this sounds appealing and you are not yet familiar with Randall Munroe’s webcomic xkcd, and his particular blend of science and entertainment, you are in for both a treat and a learning experience.

If you think the entire premise of this book is absolutely ludicrous, and a waste of your time, you are most likely correct on both points. (But you may wish to buy a copy, for that smart friend of yours with the sense of humor you have never quite figured out.)

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Splitting the difference – 3 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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ALSO ON OUR BOOKSHELVES:

A Patchwork Planet, Anne Tyler

An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Heads In Beds, Jacob Tomsky

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Love Affairs Of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

The Mother & Child Project, Hope Through Healing Hands (ed.)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

Up At The Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com