The Know-It-All: One man’s humble quest to become the smartest person in the world. by A.J. Jacobs

This book made me giggle, smile, tear-up, laugh out loud (even spurting my drink of choice) and repeatedly share bits to my children and husband.

He wrote this one earlier than the other two I read. In fact, I read them in reverse order of writing. I enjoyed all three but I loved this one.

The central premise of reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica in one year is not really the point. Clearly Jacobs sets himself unusual challenges and writes about them, and this one was the first. But it is how he weaves memories, tid-bits about his family and reflections on humanity that makes this so interesting and funny. Really this book is a memoir, not an account of an unusual challenge. While each chapter has entries from each letter in the encyclopaedia, Jacobs ties the year’s quest with a narrative structure that involves going onto Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and his wife trying to conceive their first child.

Jacobs professes to Googling himself, so if he still does that and by chance finds his way here: your family is quite amazing. Your father sounds like a really nice bloke. And you are deliciously funny.

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2 thoughts on “The Know-It-All: One man’s humble quest to become the smartest person in the world. by A.J. Jacobs

    • I used to have a reading list but it became too much – adding books but not having enough time. So now if titles or authors don’t stick in my mind, they lose. 32 books! You’re a champion!

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