Monday, November 12, 2007

The Know-It_All, by A.J. Jacobs

This audiobook was a free download from Overdrive Audio, through the Alachua County Public Library. It was 15 hours and 24 minutes long, and was narrated by Geoffrey Cantor.

When Arnold Jacobs was a boy, he thought he might be the smartest kid in the world. By the time he was married and a young editor at Entertainment Weekly, he believed that he had gotten dumber. That is when he had a flash of inspiration and decided to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, 2002 Edition.

This quest was also, at least partially, an attempt to impress his father, who had begun the feat himself a long time ago, but gave up early and focused on writing mind-numbingly dense law books.

What follows is a very funny tour of the Britannica, and how reading it turned him into an insufferable bore. Jacobs' life is seriously impacted by this quest for knowledge self-aggrandizement. He and his wife are a working couple that is trying to get pregnant, so this is a bad time to start nerdifying oneself. The Britannica project also causes him to consider the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and even his own relationship to God.

This was a very funny, and even thoughtful, book if you can overlook the casual f-bombs. I give it 3 stars because, as much as I enjoyed it, I was starting to get anxious for it to end.

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