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The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
The Know-It-All One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World Author:A. J. Jacobs 33,000 pages — 44 million words — 10 billion years of history — 1 obsessed man — Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z. To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy Le... more »ague education, A.J. Jacobs sets for himself the daunting task of reading all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His wife, Julie, tells him it's a waste of time, his friends believe he is losing his mind, and his father, a brilliant attorney who had once attempted the same feat and quit somewhere around Borneo, is encouraging but, shall we say, unconvinced.
With self-deprecating wit and a disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically disruptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs's life -- from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning.
On his journey he stumbles upon some of the strangest, funniest, and most profound facts about every topic under the sun, all while battling fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing fear that attends his first real-life responsibility -- the impending birth of his first child. The Know-It-All is an ingenious, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the all-consuming quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.« less
The Know-It-All is absolutely hilarious. It traces one man's quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Jacobs does a great job of intertwining personal history with funny snippets and reflections on the entries themselves.
A bit of a "know-it-all" myself, I loved this book. I thought because of the subject matter - one man reads the full encyclopedia britannica cover to cover - that it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but it was wonderfully engaging, warm, and funny. The author takes you through his A to Z trip, peppering the interesting facts he learns along the way with details about his (incredibly entertaining) family and his adventures along the way. During his quest to become the "World's Smartest Man", he talks to high-IQ guns, meets Alex Trebek, and even tries out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I think that anyone could enjoy this book (and get something out of it), but those who have a soft spot for trivia, learning, and quirkiness will REALLY enjoy it. I got a chuckle out of nearly every page.