The Areas of My Expertise

The Areas of My Expertise

4.5 23
by John Hodgman
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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 bestsellers such as Poor Richard’s Almanack and The Book of Lists were certainly valuable, they also were largely true. Here…  See more details below

Overview

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 bestsellers 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.

John Hodgman brings his considerable expertise to bear in answering all of the questions book buyers have been asking:

-What are the mottoes of the 51 United States?

THE ANSWER IS PROVIDED

-Who were the U.S. presidents who had hooks for hands?

THE ANSWER IS PROVIDED

-What role does the Yale secret society “Skull and Bones” play in the secret world government?

THERE IS NO SECRET WORLD GOVERNMENT

-What was the menu at the first Thanksgiving, and did it include eels?

Technically, that is two questions, but do not apologize, for John Hodgman shall answer them both... LATER.

-Aside from a compendium of fake trivia, what is the best kind of book to write?

A SIMPLE TABLE OF THE 55 MOST DRAMATIC LITERARY SITUATIONS PROVIDES THE ANSWER, and John Hodgman is the author of that table.


Imagine if The Book of Lists had been rewritten by Peter Cook and Jorge Luis Borges under the pseudonym of “John Hodgman” and then renamed The Areas of My Expertise, and you will only begin to have a sense of the dizzying, uproarious, sublimely weird, and strangely wise journey that is contained within this book (along with all the pages and words).

Perfect for anyone who thirsts for knowledge, and especially for collectors of books of fake trivia, The Areas of My Expertise offers through absurdity a better understanding of the world we share—and recognizes that while the truth may be stranger than fiction, it is never as strange as lies...or as true.

Watch a QuickTime trailer for this book.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
NPR favorite John Hodgman delivers a hilariously twisted send-up of Poor Richard's Almanack and The Book of Lists that plays fast and loose with the truth -- and even reality. If you didn't know there was a hobo rebellion in the United States, or that we have had presidents with hooks for hands, then you're in for an eye-opening surprise. Dip into this absurd laugh-riot and discover humor at its finest.
Publishers Weekly
Hodgman, "resident expert" on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a New York Times Magazine contributor, prides himself as a leading authority in the realm of informative false world knowledge. In adapting his collection of fake trivia to audio, Hodgman couples sketch comedy showmanship and cerebral literary parody. Musician Jonathan Coulton enlivens Hodgman's more lengthy sometimes plodding narrative passages. Coulton's musical interludes during Hodgman's profiles of "Our 51 States" prove especially entertaining. Paul Rudd provides an "uncredited cameo" as the guest reader for "Jokes That Have Never Produced Laughter." The audio edition also includes a special bonus "700 Hobo Names" CD, an addendum to Hodgman's "Things You Did Not Know About Hoboes" chapter. Hodgman's distinct brand of offbeat humor somehow manages to spoof yet ultimately embrace an intellectual thirst for the esoteric. Admittedly, Hodgman can sometimes become mired in the long-winded details of his obscure falsehoods. Yet, connoisseurs of the Schott's Miscellany titles and the Onion will still find more than enough deliciously absurd faux facts to make for a worthwhile listening experience. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead paperback (Reviews, July 25, 2005). (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
What looks like an almanac of deep thoughts is actually a compendium of entirely made-up and useless facts and trivia. Hodgman-a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine who frequently appears on National Public Radio's This American Life-has a knack for making readers laugh; his witty, entertaining, and handy desk reference for those needing a dose of nonsense includes a list of 700 hobo names, a guide to the worst men's haircuts, a dictionary of shortened words used on submarines to preserve oxygen, and a chart for struggling writers containing the 55 known dramatic situations (e.g., "Boy v. Girl" and "Cyborgs seek fortune on Broadway"). This is one of the funniest and most entertaining books to play on readers' imaginations in recent memory. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Susan McClellan, Avalon P.L., Pittsburgh Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Wonderfully absurd." - New York Times
"Hilarious...Nabokov's Pale Fire as directed by Wes Anderson." - Time Out New York
"If Borges and Ben Franklin got drunk and decided to write a book together, the result might have been something a lot like this freaky 'almanac'." - Tom Perrotta
"Even if you buy this book for the 700 hobo names alone, you will have gotten more than your money's worth." - Dave Eggers
"A book of absurd tall tales, tables and charts spun from the warped brain of John Hodgman...Impressively eclectic." - Los Angeles Times

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101653647
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/02/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
574,163
File size:
18 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Wonderfully absurd." - New York Times
"Hilarious...Nabokov's Pale Fire as directed by Wes Anderson." - Time Out New York
"If Borges and Ben Franklin got drunk and decided to write a book together, the result might have been something a lot like this freaky 'almanac'." - Tom Perrotta
"Even if you buy this book for the 700 hobo names alone, you will have gotten more than your money's worth." - Dave Eggers
"A book of absurd tall tales, tables and charts spun from the warped brain of John Hodgman...Impressively eclectic." - Los Angeles Times

Meet the Author

John Hodgman lives in New York City, where he curates and hosts “The Little Gray Book Lectures,” a monthly colloquium of readings, songs, and dubious scholarship. He is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and a frequent voice on public radio’s This American Life. Further fiction, nonfiction, and genres in between have appeared in The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, One-Story, and The Believer. He has performed at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, as well as on the great stages of Chicago, Philadelphia, and London’s Barbican.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Areas of My Expertise 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed books that are a collection of short articles, notably the Uncle John's Bathroom Readers series. I am also a fan of They Might Be Giant, and it was through their Venue Songs that I first heard of John Hodgman. And after seeing him on the Daily show, I knew I just had to buy his book. When I finally picked it up, I was not dissapointed. I couldn't put it down. It is like Bathroom Readers meets Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It was very interesting and funny, I highly recommend it. My only complaint is that it is much too short, which makes me yearn for his next book all the more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books, his list of 700 hobo names kept me laughing for hours, and i never knew so much about the mall of america.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard of this book through The Daily Show when Jon Stewart interviewed the author. John Hodgman was extremely funny on the show, so I decided to give his book a try. It's SO funny! It's basically fake trivia and 'false facts.' He's got everything in here from snowballs, to predicting the future, to 700 hobo names. Very funny. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
romarks More than 1 year ago
A brilliantly hilarious book that you can keep going back to time after time. I've never looked at a hobo the same way since.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is hilarious and very different. I would recommend it to anyone, particularly someone who enjoys deadpan and nonsensical humor. I would also recommend the audiobook. They're both fantastic- best things I've ever had the chance to read/listen to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'An almanac of random, fascinating and utterly unreliable information -- Hodgman has the gift of being outrageously but quietly convincing. He begins at the absolute outer edge of credibility and, as if he is holding your hand, walks you over the edge into a very funny mix of reality and nonsense. Take hobos, for instance -- or as Hodgman refers to it, the 'hobo movement in the United States.' He discusses at length hobo hieroglyphics, the only hobo Cabinet member in U.S. history and Walker Evans, who Hodgman describes as being a secret agent posing as a photographer in order to assassinate prominent hobo leaders.' NPR John Hodgman tells us that there has only been one murder in the history of the space shuttle. This took place in 1984. The astronaut, the planner, the engineer, the cocktail waitress and the librarian were all suspects. I cannot tell you who did commit the murder, but it is well known. He discusses hunting and cooking your own polar bear steaks. Julia Child knew this subject well. Also a chapter on Daves Ultra Hot Hot Hot Sauce-which are packaged in little coffins and promises your death. These little known and untrue facts are yours for the asking. These and so many other subjects that would take me all day to discuss are told in amazing detail by John Hodgman. Each chapter has its own charm, or well, its own place. This is not a book for children. There are obscene words and stories and facts that children would not understand. In fact, there were some parts of this book I did not understand, but, all in all, it had me in stitches from one chapter to the next. The author works for television 'The Daily Show' and appears on NPR's 'This American Life'. John Hodgman is a graduate of Yale, and is a former literary agent. It appears he was so humorous that he needed to take his humor to an audience who would appreciate him. This book is so amusing you may not be able to read it in one sitting less you disable yourself from being doubled-over with laughter. 'And while Hodgman may hope as we leaf through the pages, we will gain a better understanding of the world - 'perhaps not the world exactly as it is today, but as it may be someday' - one will undoubtedly come away baffled by how such madness can be spun so clear-headedly. Perhaps, though, the only way to truly describe 'The Areas of My Expertise' lies in Hodgman's final words: that is all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't do a whole lot of reading or buying of books, but this book is definitly worth the money. If you like fact books you will love this book of made up facts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't find any part of this book to be funny. The facts seem really hard to believe and really hard for me to find funny. I didn't gain any knowledge and neither was I entertained by this book.