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'What If' continues to draw critical praise, stays strong on sales charts

'What If?' by Randall Munroe addresses strange science questions and the book continues to be a bestseller, also earning some end-of-the-year critical praise.

Randall Munroe’s book “What If?,” about offbeat science questions, continues to be critically praised and is holding steady on bestseller lists.

Munroe, a former NASA researcher, is also the creator of the webcomic xkcd and his book consists of him answering some of the oddest science-based questions he’s received, including “Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?” and “From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?” 

The book was released this past September and was named to Amazon’s best of the month list. Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson called it “irresistible.” 

At the time of its publication, “What If?” earned other critical praise, too. NPR called it “catchy and approachable” and the Wall Street Journal found it to be “consistently fascinating and entertaining.” 

At least one publication remembered it for the end of the year, too. Entertainment Weekly named the title one of the 10 best nonfiction titles of 2014, with writer Kyle Anderson writing of the book, “Extreme astrophysics and indecipherable chemistry have rarely been this clearly explained or this consistently hilarious. 

Meanwhile, “What If?” is still a champion of the sales charts. The book debuted at number one on the IndieBound hardcover nonfiction bestseller list for the week of Sept. 7 and has stayed on the hardcover nonfiction bestseller list every week since. It’s currently at number five on the list for the week of Dec. 18.

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