Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 11:12 am

(Buy from Amazon.ca)

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) "Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A. J. Jacob's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z." The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically descriptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs' 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' 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.

Thoughts: Words cannot properly express how much I enjoyed reading this book. I read it not too long after reading Jacobs's A Year of Living Biblically, and I loved his writing style in both books. He's got a wonderful sense of humour, nicely balancing self-deprecation and personal anecdotes in a way that really allows you to get inside his head.

This book is written in sections much like encyclopediae, with the topic name and then Jacobs writing what he found so fascinating or weird about it, or an event in his life that related to the entry. It's obvious by his writing that he was a prolific note-taker, as some of the entries contain phrases like, "I just read this," or "as I read this," making the reader feel as though they're taking the epic challenge right alongside him.

Aside from a humourous look at the acquisition of knowledge and one man's slightly demented quest to read all that, you can actually learn a lot, too. Most of the info you'll pick up from this book will be the sort of thing that you can dazzle your friends with of Trivia Night at the pub, but you come away from it feeling a little bit smarter, a little bit more knowledgeable.

In my opinion, this book is well worth reading, and I highly recommend it.


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