The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs
One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 9 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

33,000 pages
44 million words
10 billion years of history
1 obsessed man
Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.
To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League education, A.J. Jacobs sets for himself the daunting task of reading all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His wife, Julie, tells him it's a waste of time, his friends believe he is losing his mind, and his father, a brilliant attorney who had once attempted the same feat and quit somewhere around Borneo, is encouraging but, shall we say, unconvinced.
With self-deprecating wit and a disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically disruptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs's life -- from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning. On his journey he stumbles upon some of the strangest, funniest, and most profound facts about every topic under the sun, all while battling fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing fear that attends his first real-life responsibility -- the impending birth of his first child.
The Know-It-All is an ingenious, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the all-consuming quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.
 

About A. J. Jacobs

See more books from this Author
A.J. Jacobs is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com.
 
Published October 1, 2004 by Simon & Schuster. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Parenting & Relationships, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Know-It-All

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Esquire editor Jacobs (The Two Kings, not reviewed) squares off against all 32 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and returns to his corner in comic triumph.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

About 10 years ago, worried that my brain was turning to tapioca, I decided to smarten up by reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica – all 32 leather-bound volumes.

Mar 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

A. J. Jacobs set out to become the smartest man in the world by reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from cover to cover.

Oct 03 2004 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

In The Know-It-All, the American journalist AJ Jacobs chooses this, the wrist-heavy route through his own early mid-life crisis, setting out to read the entire 33,000 pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Feb 25 2005 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Imagine, the original Berserkers were "savage Norse soldiers" of the Middle Ages who went into battle stark naked! Or consider the Etruscan habit of writing in "boustrophedon style."

Jul 12 2004 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Examiner

Reese lives happily in San Jose with her husband, her two cats, and her overflowing library.

Aug 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Book Reporter

She --- very sensibly --- wanted to know why I was reading it, and I unthinkingly tossed out a little tidbit of wisdom from the pages --- that the Holland Tunnel was actually named after its engineer, one Clifford Holland.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Bookmarks Magazine

We’re in looking glass territory here, as many reviewers spent as much time on New York Times Book Review Queenan’s hack-job as they did on Esquire editor Jacobs’s book.

Oct 10 2007 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Grasping For The Wind

The book is both memoir and trivia book.

Oct 20 2006 | Read Full Review of The Know-It-All: One Man's Hu...

Reader Rating for The Know-It-All
78%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 392 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×