Customer Reviews for

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

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2007

    This book is AWESOME!

    If you are a non-intellectual person who cannot find humor in day to day activities, then this book isn't for you. If you are totally awesome, smart and like to laugh and learn info at the same time, you should definitely read this book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2010

    A Very Humorous - and Philosophical - Memoir !

    A.J.Jacobs' The Know-It-All was one of the best books I read in 2009. In it Jacobs tells the story of his (ultiimately successful) attempt to read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. However, the better story is how he is able to keep his job, his fiance, and his social life, as his goal becomes almost all-consuming. Additionally, Jacobs pauses along the way to ask himself (and the reader) what knowledge is, what is its value, and what role reading plays in its acquisition. I recommend the book highly!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    lots of bite sized information...

    The Know-It-All is interesting, entertaining and funny. It's filled with tidbits of useful and not-so-useful information from the Encyclopedia Britannica. Some highlights for me are when A.J. interviews Alex Trebek from Jeopardy and when he gets to go on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Incidentally, A.J. couldn't be a participant on Jeopardy because he interviewed Alex Trebek at Trebek's home. Every few pages or so I would read something out of the Know-It-All and say to myself "wow! I didn't know that!" This is quite an enlightening book about knowledge and one man's quest to obtain it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2009

    Taking a Trip With the Know It All

    My niece and I listened to The Know It All as we drove to and from Florida. It was a great book for the ride. We were albe to stop and start it without losing track of the sverall story.

    The book brought back my own memories of the Encyclopedia Britanica. As I grew up we had the large white-gold edged volumes and I did every school report with them -- from 6th grade to 12th... I wish I still had our set. There was something amazing about those volumes. AJ Jacobs perfectly captures that feeling as he shares his experiences in reading the entire set. The book is a combination of information gleaned from the pages of the Britanica and experiences from his life. The mix works well. So well that I would like to know how things are going with him now! Enjoy.

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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 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 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 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 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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