Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order” as Want to Read:
The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order

(Complete World Knowledge #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  12,794 ratings  ·  855 reviews
The brilliant and uproarious #15 bestseller (i.e., a runaway phenomenon in its own right-no, seriously) - a lavish compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom - all of it completely unresearched, completely undocumented and (presumably) completely untrue, fabricated by the illuminating, prodigious imagination of John Hodgman, certifiable geniu ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published October 20th 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Areas of My Expertise, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Areas of My Expertise

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,794 ratings  ·  855 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order
Freyja Quinn
The audiobook is the only way to truly enjoy Areas of My Expertise. You really have to get this. It's in the audiobook section, misfiled under non-fiction.

Notable to the audiobook:
* John Hodgman reads the whole book
* Jonathan Coulton plays music (incl. State Songs!)
* A Bonus CD of John Hodgman reading all 700 hobo names with Jonathan Coulton playing music the entire time.
* "Were You Aware Of It?" interludes
* Guests
* Asides from John Hodgman

Mara
Jul 23, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
God. I was fucking bored out of my mind by this book. The only thing that was remotely entertaining was the chapter on hobos, and that's mostly because I think the word "hobo" is hilarious. Too f-ing precious, and, as Katie (who also hated it) said, "Why would I read un-funny fake facts when I could read real facts?"
Megan Baxter
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I dunno, maybe I just shouldn't read humour. American humour anyway - British humour I am perfectly capable of sitting down and reading and laughing my ass off. But most American humour, in written form? Not so much. At most, there's a wry smile, a "that was kinda fun." I'm quite sure it would be different if I'd heard this read aloud, which people told me (too late) was the way to read Bossypants.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and e
...more
Greg
May 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ha-ha-s
This book has quite a few moments of pure genius, and some moments of not so funny, although pretty clever ideas. In the McSweeney's realm of humor, and like most of the McSweeney's humor when it works it's really funny, but sometimes you feel like your on the outside of an injoke.
Glen Engel-Cox
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: amazon
I acquired this book through our book club gift exchange and, although I had never heard of it before, thought it would be an interesting read, and it came recommended by some of the members of the club. I tended to read it before going to sleep every night, and perhaps that affected my opinion of it, but in comparison to the other book I was currently reading, the latest novel by Joe Keenan, its humor felt to me either so understated as to be missing or so forced as to be strained. The list of ...more
Michael
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
There are very few books that make me laugh out loud. I blame much of this on my sense of humor - since I tend towards nonsense and bizarre humor, most books just leave me cold.

And then came John Hodgman.

Better known as the 'PC Guy' from Apple commercials, Hodgman gave an interview on NPR several months ago. He was freakin' hilarious. Part of his hilarity stemmed from his combination of entirely serious Pythonesque (well, Chapman and Cleese-esque) delivery, and part stemmed from the seemingly ra
...more
Ken
Oct 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
I love John Hodgman on The Daily Show. His laid-back manner, dry wit, droll deliverly and ""expert"" schtick are a perfect match for that show. However, I have to say that I can't bring myself to read more than a few pages of ""The Areas of My Expertise"" the book. The humor just doesn't work for me on the printed page. The random-ish juxtapositions come across as forced rather than funny. The repeated references to warewolves and hoboes seem less like Hodgman has a theme and more like he's runn ...more
Jeremy
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading the cover of Areas of My Expertise when it was first released and being skeptical, unsure if I like Hodgman's tone. Not really knowing who he was, I couldn't tell if his snobbiness was serious. But the text on the cover led me inside the book and soon it was clear: Hodgman was my kind of snob, and I fell in love. I read most of it at work and probably should have been fired for my overt laziness, but luckily the economy was slow and I was ostensibly in charge, so I could read ...more
Shauna
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Silly, funny, and not to be taken too seriously. I did get a little bored at some points (a list of 700 hobo nicknames is quite a lot) but I admire the author's commitment to a bit (see: 700 hobo nicknames).
Hollowspine
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Of the many books of world knowledge I have read, The Areas of My Expertise was by far the most daring, truthful and also the only book of world knowledge that I have read. Many truths are unveiled, mysteries revealed and forgotten bits of knowledge brought once more into the light.

Some of the useful information, which I will no doubt be constantly referring, include, the phases of wolf-man transformation, hobo signs, and state mottos.

I have heard that some believe this book to be a hoax, or s
...more
Sean
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
While I was reading John Hodgman's almanac of made-up trivia, I kept on expecting myself to get tired of the "joke" (man makes up a book of fake trivia, har har har), but I was mildly surprised to find that I never did. On the contrary, I can witness to the fact that The Areas of My Expertise is sustainedly, side-splittingly funny from beginning to end. From the LYCANTHROPIC TRANSFORMATION TIMETABLES at the beginning of every chapter (Second Seventh: the efficacy of the taming love of a pure wom ...more
Mark Rayner
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone but hobo or people with hooks instead of hands
Shelves: humor
I learned several important things from The Areas of My Expertise:

* it is possible to sell a book of total nonsense
* one can put a funny spin on The Great Depression
* I should be more suspicious of the large black squirrel population in my home town.

I was mildly disappointed that there wasn't more about pirates in this thing encyclopedia of total world knowledge. Apart from that, I would say that this is not a book to be missed, even if it is a little heavy on the hobos.
...more
Michael P. Fertig
Mar 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I was looking forward to the random humor I often enjoy, but found it to be more annoying than anything. It was after the fact that I realized I approached it the wrong way. I thought everything in the book would sort of be connected somehow. But it's really nothing more than a bathroom book. Pick it up when you feel like it, read a random passage about whatever, put it down, wash your hands, and carry on with your day.
Keyton
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Very funny in small doses.
Sarospice
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
If you're interested in all John Hodgeman knows as an expert this will give you a giggle but be warned WAY TOO MUCH hobo stuff.
LeeAnne
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Funny, wordy, bizarre. Also very funny and clever. And funny.
Reed Hansen
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved the extensive details about hobo lore and the 700 hobo names. I've been to the Hobo museum in Britt, Iowa!
Ericka Clouther
I read this because my husband owns the book but sadly I didn't think it was as funny as he did. This might be might fault, I think some of the jokes flew right over my head.

I like the fictional almanac concept. I always thought almanacs were really weird (though appealing in their weirdness) and Hodgman basically uses roasting the almanac as his humor vehicle here.

I especially liked the literature jokes, but the hobo section was extensive, as was the states section. The book relied a lot on ta
...more
Daniel Summerstay
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
This was the perfect book to read in bed as it seems to be formatted to entertain squirrels with ADHD. My favourite section was the treatise on common cons. My friends and I have since tried to perform these cons with only scattered successes. Also of note are the 700 hobo names contained herein, my immediate goto for names in any of my writing.
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it

Random, Fascinating and Utterly Unreliable Information, 22 Oct 2006




"An almanac of random, fascinating and utterly unreliable information -- Hodgman has the gift of being outrageously but quietly convincing. He begins at the absolute outer edge of credibility and, as if he is holding your hand, walks you over the edge into a very funny mix of reality and nonsense. Take hobos, for instance -- or as Hodgman refers to it, the "hobo movement in the United States." He discusses at length hobo hiero
...more
Andrew
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
John Hodgman, he of the Daily Show and the Mac/PC ads, is a funny guy to be sure. His essay on his home state of Massachusetts in "State by State" is clever and well-written, and when I saw him interviewed by Tom Perrotta at the Boston Book Festival, Hodgman was hilarious, quick-witted and off the cuff. His first book, "The Areas of My Expertise", reflects that sense of humor, although not as well as in person.

"Expertise" is itself an odd compendium; it is, as Hodgman puts it, "a collection of f
...more
Bradley
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Hodgman’s book is described as “an almanac of complete world knowledge compiled with instructive annotation and arranged in useful order.” Funny and intelligent, Hodgman plays on the book’s theme and contradicts it considering the one book cannot possible contain all of the world’s information. Not only that, everything in it is absolutely false. Essays concerning topics such as the New World Government being propped by Yale University, the hobo war against United States during Franklin D. Roose ...more
Incredulous Harrumpherous
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: you, only if you were bored
Shelves: et-cetera
This was hard to get through at some points. The moments of amusement caused me to giggle a quick, surprised giggle and then I was quickly over it.

The book is strange and tries to inject political and geographical humor that would be hard to understand if you weren't somewhat aware of the truths regarding these things.

I will probably never listen to it again, well, maybe just the minute long sections on NJ and ME because I can kind of relate to them and they were giggle inducing.

Oh yeah, and the
...more
Allisonperkel
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, humor
I really wanted to like this book. I think Mr Hodgman is hilarious on the Daily Show and I was hoping for some truly side splitting laughs. Plus he has a whole chapter on hobos and seems to have a werewolf fetish, how could this be bad? He even mentions ninjas!

Well, let me tell you, it is pretty bad. He makes hobos humorless. The book starts out well enough, but around the middle of the first chapter he states, clearly, that he is going to make almost everything up. Ok, that can work. However if
...more
Jeremy
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading the cover of Areas of My Expertise when it was first released and being skeptical, unsure if I liked Hodgman's tone. Not really knowing who he was, I couldn't tell if his snobbiness was serious. But the text on the cover led me inside the book and soon it was clear: Hodgman was my kind of snob, and I fell in love. I read most of it at work and probably should have been fired for my overt laziness, but luckily the economy was slow and I was ostensibly in charge, so I could read ...more
James
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Schott's Miscellany and other fake almanacs
John Hodgman is my new hero, and this book pretends to be nothing but what the title tells you. And Hodgman, as anyone who has scene his appearances on the "Daily Show" can attest, is indeed an expert in any field he feels worthy to tell you he is an expert about. I must admire the perfect circular reasoning at play here. In his own description of the book in the introduction, he tells us: "As it is our common destiny to become that which we most loathe, so I have become that most wretched and p ...more
Clinton
Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
This is by far one of the most random, bizarre, and yet still funny books I've ever read. Hodgman (the PC from those "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercials) has written an almanac, in the old Benjamin Franklin style. The catch is: everything is completely made up. He talks about the discovery of the furry lobster, and recounts how hobos took over the country for several years at the middle of the 19th century. I know, it doesn't sound like it makes any sense, and that's because IT DOESN'T. If you ...more
Dan
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in the Entire Universe, Ever.
This is definitely a case where shelling out for the CD edition pays off. Hodgman's deadpan, uber-serious vocal style transmutes his wickedly funny prose into something magical. Also not to be missed are the song stylings of the great Jonathan Coulton, acting here in his capacity as the audiobook's formerly feral "official troubador" (feel more than free to check out his free songs at www.jonathancoulton.com).

Things I learned from this book:

----The hobo sign for "If you hide in the bushes of th
...more
Chris
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf, humor
I've seen this guy on The Daily Show a few times, and every time I nearly soil myself laughing. If you don't know John Hodgman, he's currently playing the PC in the "PC vs Mac" commercials that are all over the airwaves right now.

He has a completely guileless face, and delivers his words with a tone that conveys the innocent delivery of common sense wisdom, like he cannot conceive of anyone disbelieving what he's telling us.

This is true, even when he says that the state motto of Oregon is "In Or
...more
Snowden
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Completely hilarious. Absurd humor built on the author's comprehensive knowledge of American History. Hodgman claims that "Truth may be stranger than fiction, goes the old saw, but it is never as strange as lies. Or for that matter, as true" And proves it. I knew far more about Franz Boas and the Kwakiutl than anyone in my peer group after I read this book, and before I even knew that both of those things were real. The inventions of John Hodgman's mind are not only wildly entertaining, but I wo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
BOOKD: Wouldn't Read It Like a Novel 1 7 Dec 12, 2012 08:05AM  
BOOKD: Hodgman's Hobo Names 2 21 Dec 11, 2012 09:29AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Naked Pictures of Famous People
  • The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  • Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source
  • Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems
  • The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
  • Holidays on Ice
  • Assassination Vacation
  • Unfamiliar Fishes
  • The New Kings of Nonfiction
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
  • You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas
  • America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
  • The Wordy Shipmates
  • Nerd Do Well
  • Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not
  • Nothing's Sacred
  • Themes and Variations
  • Manhood for Amateurs
See similar books…
970 followers
Before he went on television, JOHN HODGMAN was a humble writer, expert, and Former Professional Literary Agent living in New York City. In this capacity, he has served as the Humor Editor for the New York Times Magazine, Occasional Flight vs. Invisibility Consultant on “This American Life,” Advice Columnist for McSweeney’s, Comic Book Reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and a Freelance Jo ...more

Other books in the series

Complete World Knowledge (3 books)
  • More Information Than You Require
  • That is All

Related Articles

His Favorite Almanacs: The Daily Show resident expert itemizes his top five works of miscellany in honor of That Is All, his new compendium of fals...
5 likes · 2 comments
“I have learned that newborn infants roll their eyes around and move their heads and their arms in short jerky spasms. And if you homeschool them, they will stay this way forever.” 18 likes
“This is one of the defining sorrows of books: that we cannot see one another.” 9 likes
More quotes…