Tag: Mensa

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

Posted November 27, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 2 Comments

The Know-It-All by A.J. JacobsTitle: The Know-It-All (Goodreads)
Author: A. J. Jacobs
Narrator: Geoffrey Cantor
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2004
Pages: 389
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A.J. Jacobs has noticed an ever widening gap left from graduating from an Ivy League education. His solution, to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, from A to Z. Follow A.J. as he works his way through all 32 volumes, that’s 33 thousand pages and 44 million words. His wife thinks it’s a waste of time, his friends believe he has lost his mind, but follow this unconventional task in this memoir.

I have read an A.J. Jacobs memoir before; I read “Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” and found it really entertaining. This task sounded really interesting, I’m interested in the things people do to increase their pretentious levels. I’m not sure I will ever take up a task like reading the Encyclopaedia, especially with easy to access to Wikipedia.

Knowledge has interested me, and the way to obtain more knowledge is fascinating. The full title of this book is The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World; A.J. Jacobs documents the journey in this hilarious memoir. Not only do you get little snippets of facts that he found interesting but you get a look at his life. I really enjoyed the social impact reading the Encyclopaedia had; you watch his pretentious levels rise but you also watch his social skills fall. Obviously people don’t like being corrected, or want to hear weird related facts but I can’t help thinking that I would do the same thing as well.

A.J. Jacobs is quite a character and reading about the ways he tries to put his newfound knowledge into practise was really interesting. From going to a chess club, a crossword tournament and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, Jacobs tries all sorts of ways to practise often with hilarious effects. Why take the test to join Mensa if you are already in Mensa; why not? Although A.J. Jacobs was entertaining, I really found his dad so much more interesting; he was fascinating.

I love books about books and humorous memoirs about learning, so this was right up my alley. A.J. Jacobs got the balance between trivia and real life. Following Jacobs and his wife as they try to get pregnant and I felt relief when they finally conceived. I’m curious if there are more entertaining memoirs like this worth reading, maybe a year reading classics or just novels, something similar. I think I need to read more books like this.