Monday, June 28, 2010

The Know-It-All

By A.J. Jacobs

When he was a little boy, Jacobs thought he was the smartest boy in the world. Of course, he wasn't, which he realized as he grew older. For one thing, his father was a very accomplished man who had written several scholarly law books, a feat that Jacobs envied greatly. Because Jacob's dad really was a very smart man and Jacobs always felt like he was competing with his father, and in view of his father's obvious accomplishments, Jacobs was falling way short.
At one time in his life, the father had set out to read the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica but had quit in the Bs. So Jacobs decides he will read it, A to Z, and in doing so will not only top his father but will acquire such vast amounts of knowledge that people will be amazed and admiring.
Jacobs does read the whole encyclopedia and he does acquire vast amounts of knowledge and people are amazed. But mostly they are annoyed because he keeps spouting off little tidbits of info about oysters and gagaku and other trivia.

I enjoyed this book. It was funny and informative and full of snippets of info Jacobs gleaned from his journey through the encyclopedia. At times the trivia was a tad overwhelming but for the most part the stuff he chose to include in the book is pretty interesting and offbeat, with anecdotes included from his own life and struggle to read the encyclopedia making for a nice balance of facts and memoir.

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