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

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

Early in his career, A.J. Jacobs put his Ivy League education to work at Entertainment Weekly. He emerged five years later knowing which stars have fake boobs, which stars have toupees, which have both, and not much else. This realization led Jacobs on a life-changing quest: to read the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 33,000 pages, all 44 million words.
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Publisher's Summary

Early in his career, A.J. Jacobs put his Ivy League education to work at Entertainment Weekly. He emerged five years later knowing which stars have fake boobs, which stars have toupees, which have both, and not much else. This realization led Jacobs on a life-changing quest: to read the entire contents of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 33,000 pages, all 44 million words.

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

What the Critics Say

"One of the book's strongest parts is its laugh-out-loud humor." (Publishers Weekly)
"Sidesplitting." (Time Out New York)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (436 )
5 star
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3.8 (181 )
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (179 )
5 star
 (67)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Claire 09-17-12
    Claire 09-17-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "boring"

    I kept waiting for this to get interesting...I gave up and didn't finish it. I found the author ego-centric and shallow.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sandra DECATUR, TX, United States 12-22-10
    sandra DECATUR, TX, United States 12-22-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    8
    8
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    0
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    "Meh"

    Good premise, but the telling drones on with brief flashes of humor. It "read" like actually reading through the encyclopedia, NOT the best material to hook a reader or listener beyond the first handful of factoids.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sophie Arcadia, CA, United States 12-08-10
    Sophie Arcadia, CA, United States 12-08-10 Member Since 2010

    Sophie Albert

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Interesting tidbits, but can't stand the author"

    This book has a few things going for it, it has several witty facts that are enjoyable, and the narrator is quite good. However, the author grated on my nerves as the book went on. By the time I was four hours into it I thought he was very pompous. He continually reminds the reader how clever he was as a child, and how much he's learning. Even when he seemingly tries to be humble it comes across as him being full of himself. His other books are even worse, especially the ones he narrates himself.

    In short, great idea for a book, superior narration, but a pompous and irritating author.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 12-26-09
    Paul 12-26-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    38
    2
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    "Remember the Saying: No One Likes A ..."

    I tried very hard to get through this book to gleam some sort of redeeming value, but I couldn't, I just couldn't. Found that the voice selected to narrate the book was a finger nails on the chalkboard sounding boyish-man. I know some like this book, just not for me. Do not like that I wasted my time and my money. There truly are so many more important things to do in life than to read an encyclopedia and then to write about it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dustin Troy, IL, USA 12-14-05
    Dustin Troy, IL, USA 12-14-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    20
    2
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    Overall
    "Just like it sounds"

    Whats more boring then reading 32 volumes of the enclyclepedia Britannica? Listing to somebody talking about how he read 32 volumes of the enclclepedia Britannica. This book is a horrible listen. Some of the stories are intresting, but you are still listening to a guy go thru the enclyclepedia letter by letter. GOSH, what was I thinking when I ordered this. URGH.

    3 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric 01-21-08
    Eric 01-21-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    3
    1
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    "Waste of time, money & patience"

    Should have read the reviews before purchasing it. Couldn't force myself to listen past "F". A tale of knowledge vs. wisdom. NOT! It's just a sophmoric, alphbetized dribble; exacerbated by 3rd grade-ish (predictable) humor.

    If this "author" made money on this, I'll take up writing instead of truck driving.

    1 of 13 people found this review helpful
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