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The Know-It-All makes an entertaining browse, but isn't a great book to just read through. The book is organized into dozens of small sections, headed with words from the Britannica; unfortunately, the sections are at times only loosely related to the heading. The writing is almost as disjointed as a volume of the encyclopedia itself. Fine book for browsing, but no point investing any more time in it.
Feb 6, 2008
A singularly light and translucid work. The ebb tide of literary skill juxtaposed on self-deprecating wit. A truly splendid read!
Jan 16, 2008
funny from beginning to end . . . informative, entertaining and hilarious. a must read!
Apr 4, 2007
Hilarious and a real gem!
I got this book to read in between breaks of a more dense though also fantastic book. This book did its job and more. It is downright hilarious at times, but also inspiring. At times I thought the author/character had no clue about certain important things in life and let his mouth get on the way, but you feel like the journey he goes through and the things he ultimately learns are things that are important for all of us to realize in our lives. Though at times his need to make everything too funny; the book is written in a brilliant way, keenly balancing the encyclopedic things with the real life things, as well as the intersection of both. Funny and endearing at the same time!
Apr 3, 2007
So so funny
A.J. Jacobs immediately invites the reader to join him on quest to read the entire Encyclo- paedia Britannica. The journey is funny and informative. The reader is given a very personal glimpse into Jacobs' life and endeavor, while also introducing us to a variety of well-known people along the way. See how smart Mensa members are, go to a crossword puzzle contest, meet Alex Trebek. In addition, Jacobs' shares lots of facts about all sorts of things. I had to keep sharing sections of this book with my husband because I would laugh out loud while reading and he would want to know what was so funny. Very entertaining.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-07-12 Imagine, the original Berserkers were "savage Norse soldiers" of the Middle Ages who went into battle stark naked! Or consider the Etruscan habit of writing in "boustrophedon style." Intrigued? Well, either hunker down with your own Encyclop?dia Britannica, or buy Esquire editor Jacobs's memoir of the year he spent reading all 32 volumes of the 2002 edition-that's 33,000 pages with some 44 million words. Jacobs set out on this delightfully eccentric endeavor attempting to become the "smartest person in the world," although he agrees smart doesn't mean wise. Apart from the sheer pleasure of scaling a major intellectual mountain, Jacobs figured reading the encyclopedia from beginning to end would fill some gaps in his formal education and greatly increase his "quirkiness factor." Reading alphabetically through whole topics he never knew existed meant he'd accumulate huge quantities of trivia to insert into conversations with unsuspecting victims. As his wife shunned him and cocktail party guests edged away, Jacobs started testing his knowledge in a hilarious series of humiliating adventures: hobnobbing at Mensa meetings, shuffling off to chess houses, trying out for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, visiting his old prep school, even competing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Indeed, one of the book's strongest parts is its laugh-out-loud humor. Jacobs's ability to juxtapose his quirky, sardonic wit with oddball trivia make this one of the season's most unusual books. Agent, Sloan Harris. (Oct.) Forecast: NPR listeners have heard Jacobs interviewed in about a dozen segments since he started this reading project, and will be eager to lay hands on the book. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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