Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4
( 126 )
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5 Star

(61)

4 Star

(43)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 126 Customer Reviews
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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2010

    Great read!

    A journey through the author's attempt to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. This book is at time hilarious, touching, and chock full of useless information with the author's humorous take on it. It's a laugh out loud type of book that is extremely difficult to put book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that love witty observations with a of the twisted! truly a great read!!!!

    I just started reading another of Mr. Jocobs books and so far it's another laugh out loud work.

    A great book by a great author!!!!

    3 out of 3 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 5, 2009

    This book is a riot!

    The main character challenged himself to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. He reports throughout his book on those items in the EB (in alphabetical order) that intrigued him, enlightened him, made him laugh, changed his thinking, baffled him and so on. And he did this intertwined with the events of his job, his marriage, his family (including his very competitive and smart-aleck brother-in-law), his childhood memories, friends and social occasions, etc. He nearly drove people in his life crazy by throwing out tidbits from the EB in all types of daily conversations--including not too few attempts at one-upsmanship. And throughout the entire book, he is witty and funny and tells the most hysterical story about taking on a challenge that almost totally controls your life for its time. I laughed out loud on airplanes and at the beach and pool while reading this book on vacation. And I learned a lot about things I knew little about. I was completely enthralled. Highly educational and FUN!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Sometimes, knowing that we don't know it all is far more valuable.

    You'll likely find this book in the humor section of your local store, but it's unfair to pigeonhole it like that when it is so very much more than just a funny book. True, it is funny, and will definitely make you laugh out loud, but it is also inspiring, intriguing, and at many times wonderfully touching. A.J. Jacobs, in spending a year reading nothing but the encyclopedia, teaches us that the most important information that we have to learn we can't find in a book. He shows us that while factual knowledge is valuable, it is far less important than the people in our lives and the love we show them. Give this book a chance, and you'll find that it's so much more than just a story of a guy stroking his intellectual ego, it's an inspirational and moving memoir that is sure to land among your favorite reads.

    1 out of 1 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 September 6, 2008

    I loved this book!

    I listened to this while driving to and from work, and I couldn't wait to get back to my car to keep 'reading' it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2007

    What a hoot

    Despite the occasional self-reflective silliness on his belief, as a child, that he was the smartest kid in the world, AJ Jacobs' romp through the Encyclopedia Brittanica is wry and hilarious. Structuring the book around his observations on EB entries, Jacobs displays a killer sense of humor, great ability to describe his quirky family and occasional 'real intelligence' on what matters most in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    weird

    Weird and stupid

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Love

    Funny and you even learn a little!!

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    The Know-It-All is not what you expect, however, after reading t

    The Know-It-All is not what you expect, however, after reading the introduction or preface, you’re automatically hooked. Of course as we all know many don’t read the preface, but even the actual first chapter, which by the way are set up alphabetically, are intriguing.
    Jacob’s sets up a skeptical challenge, a man reading an encyclopedia set, aiming to be the world’s smartest man, well hasn’t he heard of Stephen Hawking. However, the title did include the adjective humble, which give leeway to the author. He offers much insight in such a way where he is also able to incorporate this task into his everyday life. For example, ‘you must use it or else you’ll lose it.’ AJ slowly but surely is able to use his new found information into his everyday life.
    The book also includes understatements, his family, his wife, occupation, and surprisingly humor. That’s correct, he makes the book interesting to read, it’s not just a book of facts, it doesn’t just tell his story, it actually makes the information appealing. Actually, you walk away feeling smarter and somewhat motivated to learn and appreciate our surroundings.
    One example of appreciation is the CAPS key. The author explains how typewriters came a long way in order to allow a capitalization key to be invented for current technology. He includes adventures, such as meeting an extremely intelligent man, whom is quite humble, and surprisingly not as rich as AJ expected.
    If you’re a fan of gaining new knowledge, learning bits and pieces of random information, then this book is for you. In addition, not only will you learn about facts from the encyclopedia, but the book also features moral lessons, that may help you in your life or in certain situations. Overall, the book is recommended and personally given five out of five stars.

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  • Posted August 1, 2011

    A must read

    If you ever felt alone for being a nerd, and too-smart-for-my-friends but still managed to enjoy yourself for being above average, then you MUST read this book.

    It is lough-out-loud funny and amazingly fast paced.

    You won't want to put it down!

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    How to read an encyclopedia

    When I was a kid I owned an encyclopedia that my grandpa had given us. My family owned many other reference works as well, and a little nerd that I was I had spent many hours reading and browsing those thick books that contained more knowledge than I could ever hope to absorb. There was something really appealing about the idea that all of the knowledge can be systematized and presented in a coherent, all-encompassing whole. And yet, the sheer size of those thick volumes made me wonder if I will ever be able to read it all. Apparently, there are a few brave souls out there who had stopped wondering and decided to undertake the task of reading the entire encyclopedia, and not just any old encyclopedia. Alan Jacobs, the author of this book, decided at the ripe old age of thirty five to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, the gold standard of encyclopedias. This was a monumental task by any measure. Thirty three thousand pages, spread across thirty or so big hard-bound volumes, is probably more text than most of us will absorb in our lifetimes. He chronicles his adventure in this book, interspersing mostly entertaining and curious bits of information from Britannica with personal stories and anecdotes. He recounts meeting Alex Trebek (and mistaking him for a gardener), his (mis)adventure on "Millionaire," and many very personal tales about his very accomplished family. It is precisely through these vignettes that we are able to truly relate to his adventure with Britannica. Jacobs makes it seem that almost anyone could do this, just wake up one morning and read the whole encyclopedia. His writing style is very fluid and entertaining, and he is very good at endearingly deprecating himself. He makes vivid the very human side of knowledge, even when it is at its driest.

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  • Posted May 29, 2010

    Fascinating Read, But Very Poor CDs

    You will learn so many interesting things you never knew before. The author uses a lot of humor and weaves in stories from his own life which makes this a really interesting book. However, a major problem is one of the discs has lots of static on it - at times it prevents one from hearing the material clearly, or at all; at other times it's just irritating. That disc also skips quite a bit even though there are no scratches or other damage on it. That's why I've given this only 3 stars. But over all, this is a good read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Pretty funny in spots, but otherwise a snoozer.

    Having read and enjoyed Jacobs' "The Year of Living Biblically", I picked this book off the bargain deals rack with some enthusiasm. My thought process went something like, "I would be bored senseless if I tried to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica straight through, so how is someone going to do that AND write a book about it without putting me to sleep?" Unfortunately, it did just that. It has its shining moments, particularly Jacobs' interactions with his family, but the majority of the entries are simply "clever" anecdotes to said entry's definition. Honestly, if I wanted to pick up some fun facts, I'd prefer to watch Jeopardy or hit up sporcle.com for a few minutes.

    In the end, if you see this one on the bargain rack for a fraction of the cover price and need something to kill a few hours, then I would recommend it. Otherwise, meh.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    Great Read

    It's the Cliff Notes to the Brittanica, but way more entertaining. A fun read that has you parroting all sorts of fun and perhaps irrelevant facts. Every chapter a new and interesting set of facts and commentary. Read this book and you won't be sorry..and you'll be smarter too.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not my kind of book

    This book is well written and interesting if you have ever been interested in reading about someone who has read the entire encyclopedia. I however have not been or have been interested in something like that. This book was our book club pick and felt like a chore to read. There are some interesting facts that are shared but I would not recommend it.

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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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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hilarious Educational Read

    AJ Jacobs didn't disappoint! Reading the encyclopedia in full is a slightly odd and boring undertaking. But Jacobs turns his year-long project into a hilarious novel. He shares his favorite entries and stories about interjecting his new found knowledge into everyday conversations. I laughed out loud through the entire book. My family can't wait to borrow it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2009

    Refreshing Non-Fic that Deserves the Read

    A.J. Jacobs takes a refreshing view into a daunting task- reading his way through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. In addition to providing bite size and easily digestible pieces of knowledge, Jacobs adds humor and a touching view of his life. The Know It All has a witty and slightly sarcastic narrative which makes the book an easy read. It is also broken up not only into letters, but also sections for different entries. Jacobs' connections to his own life, such as his struggle to become a father, to his difficulties as being seen as an intellectual nerd adding in seemingly useless knowledge to every conversation make this a memorable work. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and often found myself laughing out loud and also touched by Jacobs' relentless dedication to his task. I would recommend The Know It All for anyone who is looking for an entertaining change of pace from the drier non-fictions of today.

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