Amanda'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
This book chronicles snarky rich kid (he is actually 35) A.J. Jacob's quest to read The Encyclopedia Brittanica from A-Z, in an attempt to become "the smartest person in the world". Jacobs breaks the book into alphabetical chapters and free-associates on the entries that he finds interesting. This book was by no means dull, but it was interesting in the way that flipping through the encyclopedia or the dictionary yourself is interesting-- as you scan the pages you find weird little tidbits that catch your fancy. So as a list of weird little tidbits, this book is amusing, but it sort of reinforces the foolishness of Jacob's enterprise. If this 369 page book represents all you think merits reflection in the massive, massive Britannica, what is the point of doing this? And the half-assed summation saying that you learned about the connections between things is not a particularly jarring revelation. The text felt padded with Jacob's incessant witticisms and unrelenting attempts to distance himself from his incredibly priviliged background by painting himself as a shallow regular guy with a nerd streak. I also got the feeling that some editor somewhere told Jacob's that he needed some sort of personal content to help the reader relate to him, so that he found ways to work details of his difficulty getting his wife pregnant into almost every letter. All of the interjections about his personal life felt forced and superficial. All of the characters seemed one-dimensional and irritating. I just didn't care about Jacobs or his life. He seemed like an over-priviliged hipster douchebag who got a book deal because he has good connections.
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