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Publisher's Summary

In the great tradition of the American almanac, The Areas of My Expertise is a brilliant and hilarious compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom on all topics large and small. Although best sellers such as Poor Richard's Almanack and The Book of Lists were certainly valuable, they also were largely true. Here is a different kind of handy desk reference, one in which all of the historical oddities and amazing true facts are sifted through the singular, illuminating imagination of John Hodgman, which is the nice way of saying: He made it all up.
©2005 John Hodgman; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Humor, 2007

"One of the funniest and most entertaining books to play on readers' imaginations in recent memory. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"For the hyper-well-read fans of publications like McSweeney's, this is a treasure trove of twisted absurdist miscellany." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    463
  • 4 Stars
    326
  • 3 Stars
    257
  • 2 Stars
    125
  • 1 Stars
    104

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    316
  • 4 Stars
    107
  • 3 Stars
    47
  • 2 Stars
    17
  • 1 Stars
    22

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    214
  • 4 Stars
    119
  • 3 Stars
    99
  • 2 Stars
    42
  • 1 Stars
    35
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

An Audiobook that takes Advantage of the Audio

Not much story, just a bunch of jokes str7ng together to make a book. Really funny jokes mind you.

  • Overall
  • Performance
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  • Jason
  • laurel, MD, United States
  • 03-19-16

Gets better with each listen.

Such a clever book. it's made even better when John Hodgman's partnership with Jonathan Colton on the recording.

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  • Cory
  • KINGWOOD, TX, United States
  • 03-11-13

John, you are funny. Really, I mean it.

Would you listen to The Areas of My Expertise again? Why?

Indeed I will. John Hodgman and Jonathan Coultan (his troubadour) make this recording a delight through their glib repartee. I am also attracted by their occasional use of profanity.

What other book might you compare The Areas of My Expertise to and why?

I haven't read or listened to another book quite like this one. It was certainly set apart from others in that the author spoke only lies and halftruths but spoke directly to the listener.

Which scene was your favorite?

The rendition of the Hobo documentary ala Kenneth Burns. The "Johnny Comes Marching Home" in the background made that scene.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Indeed. Unfortunately life interrupted and I was unable, so I settled for listening to the last 45 seconds the next day...

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Enhanced, not abridged!

Note that this version of the book is read by the author John Hodgman with help from Jonathan Coulton. JH and JC banter throughout the book, for example instead of reading the tables on omens and portents cell by cell, JH asks JC what he saw the previous day, and JC attempts to bargain away Ragnarok by changing his story. Even if some of the content is removed from this version (while reading the Table of Contents JH says that he couldn't get the rights to discussing squirrel foot deformities), it is more than made up for by their interaction and JC's musical interludes.

I'm really curious to read the print version as well to compare them better; I expect it will be a very different experience.

  • Overall
  • Performance
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  • Michael M
  • Hillburn, NY, United States
  • 05-14-12

Good but repetitious

Would you try another book from John Hodgman and/or John Hodgman?

Doubtful

Would you ever listen to anything by John Hodgman again?

Doubtful

What about John Hodgman???s performance did you like?

Nails the attitude of the book, a good performer

Could you see The Areas of My Expertise being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

N/A

Any additional comments?

It's funny, but the humor is humor of the absurd, and the book is just the same type of absurd made up facts over and over. Yes, it's clever, but it's too repetitious. You have your fill of it after 15 minutes.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This type of comedy, is not for me.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Unfortunately the comedy of this book was as bad at some of the worst SNL sketches where you know they are making fun of something but you have no idea what that is.

The whole premise of the material was based on making up stuff as if it was real, but CLEARLY is not. May have been ok if it was funny, but I didn't find it to be the case.

Has The Areas of My Expertise turned you off from other books in this genre?

This was the first comedy book I read, just because I hear from some people that it was funny. I have never been interested in comedy book, I like hard science fiction.

What aspect of John Hodgman’s performance would you have changed?

While John may have been overacting I really disliked his All knowing persona and grandiosity.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Both anger and disappointment. Anger that I wasted a credit on this book and Disappointment with the whole comedy book category.

Any additional comments?

Again I have no experience with humor in books, this may be the exception but if this are what most humor books are like, I'll just have to avoid them.

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Love John Hodgman but...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

...I didn't really enjoy this book. I knew that it was made up facts but I had a hard time listening to it. Apparently I need more of a story. A lot of people love this book, I guess I just am not one of them.

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  • tasson
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 12-05-11

Funny, funny, funny!

This is a book on various subjects and is entertaining in the extreme! I love John Hodgman and his humor so I was completely captivated. If you're not a Hodgman fan because you aren't familiar with his work - this should bring you into the fold. It's a book about everything and told with the straight-man's comedic timing and point-of-view.

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A bit too over the wall

I listen to the Judge John Hodgman podcast and I love the man's work. I find him to be clear-cutting and rational when judging silly questions, its pretty hilarious. So I had no doubt that his book offered the same type of judgmental personal insights. But I was mostly disappointed as the content offered nothing more than an accumulation of over the top randomness. I just didn't make me laugh.

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  • Diane
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 07-07-11

Theater of the Absurd

Hodgman's skill at creating and describing a delightfully ridiculous version of reality never fails to please. His mock serious narration of the "facts," together with Jonathan Coulton's occasional interjection, makes for a delightful listen. Because fully appreciating Hodgman's humor requires attention and because listening to both this book and "More Information Than you Require" were both such treats, I only would allow myself 20-30 minutes at a stretch, prolonging my enjoyment as much as possible. Alas, all good things must end, so I now must be satisfied with his wickedly funny (and actually quite wise) "Judge John Hodgman" podcast while I await his next opus--surely he has further revelations for those of us who require even more!