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

Average Rating 4
( 127 )
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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 127 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read!

    What a great job! I read "Year of living biblically" first and had to come back for this one. I love his approach to what could be seen as dry and boring. He makes facts and knowledge accessible and fun.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Interesting book about a monumental task.

    Jacobs does a good job of incorporating the [daily] events of his life with the gigantic amount of information he is taking in from reading the encyclopedia. It's a good book for anyone who likes random bits of trivia, even if, like Jacobs himself, I can't recall all the parts I found so interesting when I read it.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    So funny!

    This book is full of fun and interesting facts that will have your sides splitting. The author is a very likeable character and you will find yourself rooting for him all the way! This book was very enjoyable and very funny and I would recommend it to anyone. A great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    loved it

    Hilariously different.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2006

    Smartypants!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am getting a copy for a friend -- the one I'd have on my 'help line' if I ever got on Who Wants To Be A Millionare. I thought this friend was the world's compendium of obscure knowledge -- now I know that he's only #2! Not a deep book, but very funny, a good airplane or beach book, as long as you don't mind people staring when you laugh out loud. Like Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, the author exposes his idiocyncracies and fallibility for humorous effect. If there is a message, it is that the author makes a nice distinction between knowledge and wisdom. I was not going to review the book until I saw the last review -- more an ad hominem attack (see, I can use highfalutin' words too) than a review -- which is like criticizing Sedaris or Burroughs for being a tad neurotic. Hopefully, other readers whose humor functions are operative, and do not view the world through a dialectical, intellectualist paradigm (yup, I went to college) won't miss the slim point, and the broader chuckles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Contemporary American Anti-Intellectualism

    If only this were fiction, I would recommend it highly for its portrait of a distasteful character emblematic of what passes for the cultured middle-brow in the popular mass media. If only this were a sociologic study in intellectual history, I would recommend it highly for its telling details that reveal the continued spurning (by misunderstanding) of intellectual endeavor in the United States. Alas, however, this book is apparently a straightforward account of how a singularly noxious, boneheaded rich kid ensconced in magazine journalism, the traditional holding tank for failed scions of the wealthy, deals with reading what is essentially a bit of light reading for the educated set and how he tries to deal with what he simply cannot seem to understand. I dearly hope it is I myself who is misreading this book. Could it be an extended joke, a parody of the classical failure, a la some of the columinsts in 'The Onion'? If so, I missed it and just found a pretty pathetic tale by someone I would actively avoid meeting.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2006

    Absolutely Hilarious!

    A.J Jacobs has a wit that is so endearing and hilarious! This is the first book in a long time that I've laughed out loud while reading. The layout of the memoir was incredibly original and the anecdotes were very amusing...plus there are the little tidbits of trivia that you never wanted to find out, but you now know thanks to A.J Jacobs (but they are pretty interesting). This is an absolutely addictive read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Goofing around doesn't have to cost 12 bucks......

    I thought this book sounded very interesting but it's just basically rainy day goofing around. The same exact kind you can do yourself with an encyclopedia and a case of the goofies. I'm not a nay sayer for a good laugh but the author's wit is just not sharp enough to carry this one off. From what I see of the other reviews here, you either love this one or hate it. I was disappointed, good luck.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2006

    Laugh out Loud

    That is what you will do as you read this book of trivia. Mr. Jacobs has a remarkable wit and ability to convey it in writing. I picked it up by chance and now I tell everyone about it. I plan to buy all of his other books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2006

    I learned a lot

    I really liked Julie, she was funny. So was A.J. In the end I was happy for A.J. that he got what he wanted and more out of reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It was really good for awhile then A.J. got to where he wrote about other things in his life and didn't write about the EB articles. He also became really conceited and cocky. He changed though and the book went back to being interesting and fun again. I'm really glad A.J. learned the things he did from reading the EB. That was really sweet of A.J. to write an article about his Dad. This book taught me a lot and I'm so glad I read it. It was definately worth my time. I'll have to keep it nearby for future reference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2006

    Waste of Money

    I honestly thought this would be a good read, but by the midway point had decided it belonged in the garbage. Total waste of money - I got so sick of hearing about the author's personal foibles, that it ruined what might have been a good idea. Who cares if his wife is having trouble getting pregnant - keep that information to yourself, and his constant feelings of inadequacy towards his brother-in-law - grow up already. Save your money and find something else worth your time and cash.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2005

    WOW, great book

    This book kept me interested throughout. I hope Mr. Jacobs writes another book soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2005

    Just Bought 4 More for Friends

    I picked the book up only after reading A.J.'s letter to the NYT Book Review telling them that they made the review of his book not only unfavorable but a personal dis. The letter had me laughing so hard I had to read the book. If only all learning could be this much fun. Now I too bore my friends with A.J.'s knowledge. (I identified the roots of the word Gazebo just this weekend.) Added benefit.. you can pick it up and put it down anytime -- the ultimate hypertext. The reaeder gets a clear and poignant picture of the author at the same time they begin to understand that learning is at its best when the facts are told in a context. A.J. has provided a fabulous context. He ought to be writing school curricula!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    Who knew the encyclopedia could be so good?

    The concept of the book seemed interesting (a man trying to read the entire encyclopedia) so I decided to buy it. After reading it, I am glad I made the purchase; this book is unique, informative, and extremely funny. Jacobs does a great job of intertwining random encyclopedia facts/entries with events in his own life. The stories in his real life are comical and interesting. He does everything from join Mensa and attend a crossword convention to being interviewed on Crossfire and going on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'. The random facts had to be my favorite part of the book. He picks some of the strangest entries but ties them into the book flawlessly. Overall, this book was a quick and very enjoyable read with a unique setup and concept.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2005

    THE MAN WHO WOULD KNOW EVERYTHING

    Remember when 'Smarty!' was a pejorative epithet? No more, thanks to A. J. Jacobs's highly entertaining look at himself and his unusual feat - reading all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. (For the uninitiated, that's 33,000 pages). Of course, he began this onerous taSk before the days of 'Google' and other almighty internet search engines, at a time when many believed the Encyclopedia to be the repository of all knowledge. Nonetheless in his quest to become the smartest man in the world, Jacobs, an Esquire editor, recounts the effect this herculean effort had on his job, his family, friends, and perhaps most of all on his wife. Obsessive, you say? A bit. However, Jacobs relates this experience candidly and sometimes hilariously (Imagine him trying to fit in at a Mensa meeting or interest fellow party guests in his latest accumulation of fact). 'The Know-It-All' is a comic, touching story of one man's Everest. Voice performer Geoffrey Cantor reads it with grace and good humor. Enjoyable listening? You bet! - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    Laugh & Learn at the same time!

    I love this book. I plan on buying a copy for all my reader friends. Right from the Introduction, I fell in love -- remembering how I wanted to read every volume of the encyclopedia when my parents bought a set when I was 12. This book is very entertaining, very informative, and VERY creative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2004

    I bought two copies!

    When I read the description of this book, I knew I had to read it. You see, like Mr. Jacobs, I'm quite sure that I'm the smartest person in the world. I have yet to read the entire encyclopedia, but he's given me and idea... Anyway, back to the book. It's freakin' hilarious. His transitions from every day life in one sentence to obscure facts from the encyclopedia in the next made me laugh out loud more than once. I just could not put this one down -- I think I read it in record time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    I Laughed Out Loud

    It was brilliant and funny. The good reviews I read every where else were absolutely on target. It was a great read. I laughed out loud. I will definitely share it with my frie

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    Very Funny!

    This book is hilarious. I had to stop reading it in public because people were staring. The author's quest to become the smartest person in the world by reading the entire Encyclopedia is admirable. I found myself becoming interested in some of the more obscure information he discovered. Now if only I can retain it so I can impress people at cocktail parties. He mixes his facts with amusing personal anecdotes, some of which are laugh-out-loud funny. Can't wait for the movie!! Very entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2004

    Everyman's Quest for Literacy in the Contemporary World

    The Know-it-All is the engaging and touching tale of one man's quest for literacy, employing one of the most widely-available information sources, the Encylopaedia Britannica. I read the book raptly in two or three sittings, and learned an immense amount from it. At the bottom of this account of one man's encounter with the Britannica, laced with related events from his life, is a pep-talk so many of us need to hear: You can gain genuine culture and breadth of knowledge if you only take advantage of the rich resources no farther away than the nearest library or your computer screen. This is a highly recommended read.

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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 127 Customer Reviews
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