Review: The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless
David McCandless' The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia hit the shelves last week (in the US). As I flipped through 320 pages of original graphics during my flight from New York to California, I thought to myself, "FlowingData readers are going to love this."
What It's About
I'm sure you've seen some of David's work by now. He's been posting graphics at Information is Beautiful during the past few months, leading up to the book release and recently started doing a weekly graphic for The Guardian Datablog. The book is like that, but much more of it.
The Visual Miscellaneum has about 100 original graphics designed specifically for the book, and yes, it is very miscellaneous. On one page is a comparison between scientific consensus and skeptics of global warming, and on the very next is a chart on dictators' wives.
Not Just Charts and Graphs
If you haven't figured it out by now, many of the graphics in this book are very tongue in cheek, but at the same time, they're quite informative.
I really just had fun flipping through the pages. I felt like I was learning something new and interesting with each graphic, and while random, they seemed to be linked somehow. It was kind of like when you look something up on Wikipedia and one hour later, you find yourself reading about types of beards (yeah, there's a graphic for that). Speaking of which, a lot of the data come from Wikipedia and other open data sources, so after you see David's graphics, you can go and try things out on your own.
With that said, not every graphic is perfect. There were a few where I wasn't sure what I was looking at or it took a little while for me to process, but that's what I was expecting. Many of the graphics are probably experiments in design more than they belong in a Tufte book, but I'm all for experimentation, as I'm sure all of you know.
I liked The Visual Miscellaneum a lot. It's fun, it's interesting, it's informative, and it's enjoyable.
P.S. One quick note. It says "hardcover" on Amazon, but really it's more of a thick paperback. Just so you know.