The mission began in October 2002, with the word "a-ak". The word launches hilarious misadventures through 32 volumes, as Jacobs accumulates useful and less-so knowledge, and along the way finds a deep connection with his father, examines the nature of knowledge vs. intelligence, and learns how to be rather annoying at cocktail parties.
The Know-It-All is an ingenious, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions, and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the obsessive quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.
©2004 A.J. Jacobs; (P)2004 HighBridge Company
"One of the book's strongest parts is its laugh-out-loud humor." (Publishers Weekly)
"Sidesplitting." (Time Out New York)
After reading all the negative reviews, I have to weigh in in favor of this book. This book is more introspection on the life of Jacobs than an academic discussion of the encyclopedia (thankfully). Jacobs is not beyond poking fun at himself while he examines his own life in an uninhibited way. I thought the narration was great -- the occasional mispronunciations didn't bother me. Cantor's great accents more than made up for them.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
Probably after some time has passed, it's an interesting journey through randomness.
It made me chuckle at multiple points. Not knowing what the next entry to be covered is makes for a highly entertaining read.
If you're looking for any substantial information or a concise, coherent story, this isn't your book. If you're interested in a lighthearted journey through the alphabetically arranged entries of the Encyclopedia Britannica, this is your book.
Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.
I found this book extremely informative and entertaining. The writer doesn't just list everything he read in the encyclopaedia.He recounts how the things he learned, directly affected his life. And he does so very well. His account is riddled with subplots and characters played by family members. I love how the knowledge he gains is put towards his desperate attempts to impregnate his wife. I enjoyed the effects this project had on his family and friends and even work colleagues. There is so much to learn from this book, a second read will help retain some of that knowledge. But the first time is very enjoyable none the less.
The writer has a great sense of humour, a little bit cheesy at times, but that's expected considering his career. And it's always great when the writer narrates his own work. Over enthusiastic at times, but it works for the piece. Very entertaining and informative. Lots of fun, very clever, well wrapped up in the end, and you'll get a lot out of it. Nice one.
Listening to this book is very similar to the authors experience with reading the encyclopedia-sometimes interesting, but a lot of useless knowledge and way too much name dropping. A.J. clearly comes from a family of privilege, so it's not so much "average man tries to rise above" as it is "Well educated and pampered guy spends weekends at his parents in the Hamptons being a little bit obnoxious"
I really wanted to like this book....I really did, but it's just not doing it for me.
It's true that there are laugh out loud moments. However I found myself disliking the author. Maybe it was partly due to the narrator who sounds kind of whiney, but the more I heard of the author's personal life (which was too much), the less I liked him and his family.
Loved following Jacobs and his neuroses on his long journey from A to Z. As enjoyable as other NPR alums like David Sedaris and Jonathan Goldstein. Cantor did an engaging reading. If only Audible would offer an encyclopedia...
My husband and I listened to this on a road trip. It was laugh out loud funny as well as extremely informative. Very good read!
It's possible that there is someone in the world whose voice is more annoying than Geoffrey Cantor's... one of the animated chipmunks, perhaps, or Edith Bunker. But neither of them, notice, recorded audio books. Cantor's whining nasal voice, self-conscious delivery and frequent mispronunciations significantly impaired my tolerance for what was already a disappointing book. Author AJ Jacobs is a prat, and not in a good way. His writing tries hard for "I recognize and can laugh at my own failings" but instead comes off as "I'm so darn cute that even my flaws are adorable." I dare say to Mr. Jacobs' wife, adorable they may be...the rest of us would do better to save our time, disk space, and hearing for works by David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs instead.
just not for me.. who would like this? hmm... anyone who really loves woody allen monologues would be smitten with this work.
this book is that old friend who tries way too hard to be clever.. if you are yearning again for a long conversation with that friend, then you should get this book. if you are not, then you should pass.
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