Stephanie's Reviews > The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
by A.J. Jacobs
by A.J. Jacobs
Mar 03, 2008
Read in April, 2008
As anyone who knows me can attest, I generally spout information to anyone who will listen to me. Most conversations begin: I heard on NPR the other day . . . For example, did you know there's a marsupial species in Australia whose male population only lives 11 months, the last month of which is spent obsessed with procreating or that a cockroach can live up to ten days without a head? Just one of the many useless bits of knowledge I have tucked away. AJ Jacobs wrote "The Know-It-All" as a quest/personal memoir about his journey reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. He believed that if he read this behemoth, he would then be deemed "the smartest man in the world." I guess the big question is this: does a wide breadth of knowledge really equate increased intelligence? I'm not sure the answer is found in this book. The author does explore different situations that prove intelligence -- from the socially awkward MENSA folks to a crossword competition to appearing on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Perhaps ironically or perhaps a greater message that knowledge is nothing unless you have the speed or acuity to compete at random games, Jacobs does not succeed at any of these things. And I wasn't exactly satisfied by the end. It ends quite abruptly without much introspection, but I guess after reading 30,000 pages ranging from Greek gods to astrophysics, I'd be pretty much too exhausted to write/think anymore.
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