Review of XKCD Volume 0

xkcd volume 0 by Randall Munroe

XKCD Volume 0 + Room to Read = A huge bowl of win.

In what I hope proves to be a fruitful partnership, xkcd, a webcomic by Randall Munroe that I’ve been reading (and loving) for years and Room to Read, the charity founded by John Wood that I raved about in my “best books I’ve read on my travels” post have joined forces to help fund a school in Laos. I wanted to provide a brief review of Volume 0.

xkcd has been around for years, and remains a highlight of my day, regardless of where I am in the world — I’ve cracked up reading the comic in many a time zone on this journey. I’ve also read it at my desk when I was a lawyer, a much-needed break and some levity between contract negotiations.

Straddling the long line between politics, math and pure, unadulterated sarcasm (one of my favorite comics is called Sandwich, and requires some knowledge of Unix to appreciate), xkcd now has a legion of followers and a ton of well-earned respect.

I was thus thrilled to read of Munroe’s first book, xkcd Volume 0, which is being published by BreadPig, a company started by reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. While BreadPig has not historically published books, it has a variety of deliciously geekified merchandise for the offering. And with its tag of “When the world needed a hero, it got a pig with bread wings,” BreadPig’s partnership with the quirky comic makes perfect sense. BreadPig has always maintained its “uncorporation” roots, continuing to donate a large percentage of profits to nonprofits, and publishing Munroe’s xkcd book seems to me a great way to dive into the business. Ohanian recently twittered that profits from both book sales and book events (recent events were held in NY and Silicon Valley) are going toward Room to Read.

For those unfamiliar with the organization, Room to Read was started by ex-Microsoft employee John Wood and builds schools, bilingual libraries and provides scholarships to schoolchildren in 9 countries. Fundraising occurs with the extraordinary efforts of local chapters around the world, and a co-investment is required from the local communities receiving the money (so that such communities maintain a vested interest in the project long after its completion). It’s a wonderful organization.

You can buy the book here. I already have! The book is a wonderful introduction to a comic that braids together popular culture, emotional dissonance, assorted nerditry and so much more, and reading the strip of comics in one book is incredibly rewarding. Even if you haven’t spent as much time as I have on the xkcd site, you’re bound to enjoy it — and I suspect you’ll be reading the comic online thereafter.

-Jodi