Book 2: The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

Author: A. J. Jacobs, 2004One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
Genre: Autobiography
Format: Hardcover, 386 pages

I must say I got really drown into this book. My busy schedule usually leaves little time for reading and I rarely finish a book so fast, but with holidays and all I found myself on the couch more often, holding The Know-It-All. This autobiography is exceptionally funny and entertaining. I laughed out loud, I cheered for the author, I worried about his family. All of that amidst a wonderful, non-stop trivia that made his everyday rants somehow relevant and connected in the greater meaning of his journey – wisdom. One of the recurring themes in the book would be the struggle to define intelligence, the battle between being smart and being a know-it-all, and finally justifying the quest for knowledge in the vast ocean of facts. I learnt a lot, which is always welcomed when it comes to reading.

I can’t say that A.J. Jacobs didn’t get on my nerves sometimes, but his humorous self-criticism won me over in the end. A wonderful cast of characters that got dragged along through this journey – Jacob’s wife, his father and even snobby but lovable brother-in-law – all add up to an amazing chemistry between the book and the reader. After reading a few negative reviews, I noticed that some people got bored of Jacob’s life story woven in with every fact he passes by: who cares if Julie gets pregnant? who cares if Eric is so omg superior?  But I must say that these people mistook the book for an encyclopedia Cliff Notes. Yes, there are a lot of fun facts, but most importantly it’s a story about the knowledge the author absorbed, the knowledge that influenced his life, and the knowledge that shaped a better person out of an entertainment journalist.  

I was, however, a bit shocked to learn that the author writes in his leather bound encyclopedia with a ballpoint pen and smashes cockroaches with the heavy tomes. In the words of the great Vizzini, Inconceivable!


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