Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Know-It-All (by A.J. Jacobs)

I'm no stranger to intellectual challenges involving books, so I have long been interested in reading Jacobs's memoir of reading the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica. A funny, profound, fascinating book--especially if you're a fan of trivia (simply learning what a miranym is was worth the purchase price) but there's a lot more to it, really. I was trying to figure out how to sum up this book, and then I saw this review on Amazon:

"This isn't random repeated trivia, it's a very good memoir. We learn about Jacobs's career at Esquire, his relationship with his wife, their on-going fertility troubles, his playfully combative relationship with his brother-in-law, and his relationship with his dad and how dad shaped Jacobs as a person. All of this is intertwined with his journey through Brittanica, and I learned a lot on the way. Jacobs also spices up his quest for knowledge by taking a speed reading class, joining Mensa and attending a gathering, meeting Alex Trebek, and trying out for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, among other things."

The only thing I would add is that also has a lot of thought-provoking musings on the meaning of life--Jacobs is constantly searching for an underlying definition of intelligence and, beyond that, trying to seek out whatever wisdom the encyclopedia might contain. Gives you a surprising amount of stuff--both mundane and profound--to think about.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jana said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I really liked it as well...more so than one would think from the title.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

i Haven't read this yet but it is on my list. I also think he has a new book about "living biblically" for a year.

7:08 AM  

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