Stephanie's Reviews > The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs
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's review
Mar 03, 2008

liked it
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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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-2 of 2) </span> <span class="smallText">(2 new)</span>

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen I LOVE this review! Very entertaining. I do miss hearing your random tidbits of knowledge gleaned from NPR and the world. Missing you on the Eastern Seaboard my dear...

message 2: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha There is definately a difference between intelligence and being smart! Good review, I liked yours better than most peoples whose review was mainly negative and opinionated. Thanks I might actually read this book now :)

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