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Friday, December 19, 2008

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 The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
Listened to the abriged audiobook version of this book. I liked the narrator's voice, except when he read a woman's lines. Just read in your voice. We'll figure out it's a girl talking! I am also a big fan of the case the book came in. Rather than some byzantine folded paper cd case, it was a stack of jewel cases that you can page through like a book. Very handy for switching cds on the interstate!



As far as the content...part memoir, part book report, part stream-of-consciousness riffs on whatever strikes the author's fancy, The Know-It-All is very entertaining. I was often somewhat surprised by the facts that caught his attention, and I definitely think that he overthinks A LOT of things, but I enjoyed the tone and the story.



My favorite line: "I've actually dabbled in reference books before." I laughed out loud when I heard it. I'm pretty sure that my dad read the encyclopedia when he was growing up (though most likely not all the way through and if he did he wasn't tooting any horns about it). When I mentioned this fact in grade school, I spent the next few years being teased about reading the dictionary. Or maybe I have the reference books backwards. Obviously the emotional scars have faded. :)



A couple of interesting concept that came up in the book were head knowledge vs. life knowledge and the dichotomy between reading about life and living life. In some ways, I think this is so topical today. Granted, there probably aren't too many people skipping an evening walk in Venice to read the Encyclopedia Brittanica (I just spelled "encyclopedia" differently than it is spelled in the title. The title is spelled "encyclopaedia". The "ae" is supposed to be joined, and there's a term for this which Jacobs mentions in the book...he obviously read with more comprehension than I used to listen, because I don't remember the term for the conjoined twins of the phonetic world), but people spend a lot of time building relationships and lives on the internet at the expense of their "real" lives.


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