The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the by A. J. Jacobs

By A. J. Jacobs

33,000 PAGES
forty four MILLION phrases
10 BILLION YEARS OF heritage
1 OBSESSED guy
half memoir and half schooling (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and likely very unlikely quest to learn the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.
To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League schooling, A.J. Jacobs units for himself the daunting job of examining all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His spouse, Julie, tells him it's a waste of time, his buddies think he's wasting his brain, and his father, an excellent lawyer who had as soon as tried an identical feat and give up someplace round Borneo, is encouraging yet unconvinced.
With self-deprecating wit and a disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unforeseen and comically disruptive results Operation Encyclopedia has on every thing of Jacobs's lifestyles -- from his newly minted marriage to his advanced courting along with his father and the remainder of his charmingly eccentric manhattan family members to his day task as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's venture exams the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to discover the true which means of intelligence as he endeavors to hitch Mensa, win a place on Jeopardy!, and take in 33,000 pages of studying. On his trip he stumbles upon a few of the strangest, funniest, and such a lot profound proof approximately each subject below the solar, all whereas scuffling with fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing worry that attends his first real-life accountability -- the approaching delivery of his first baby.
The Know-It-All is an inventive, mightily wonderful memoir of 1 man's mind, neuroses, and obsessions, and a fight among the all-consuming quest for actual wisdom and the indisputable present of hard-won knowledge.

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Sample text

Charles Here’s a tip: if you meet a king and can’t remember his name, you might as well guess Charles. You’ve got a pretty good shot. I’ve arrived at the Charles section and it’s a disturbingly long one—forty-eight Charleses, to be exact, spread over twenty-four pages, hailing from just about every European country that could afford a cape with some ermine trim, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Holland, Hungary, and Austria. It’s sort of helpful that a lot of the Charleses have nicknames, which I consider trying to turn into some sort of Dr.

I can’t believe this. ” “Oh, that’s the best part. It’s a poem that British schoolboys used to say. It goes like this: Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief, Knox the one who bought the beef. T H E K N OW- I T- A L L The family laughs. ” says Julie’s mom. “You’re scary,” says Eric’s wife, Alexandra. Eric sits back and crosses his arms on his chest, one of his favorite gestures. He looks at me and smiles. He knows he’s beaten me. I’m annoyed at the Britannica for not having that poem in it. I’m annoyed at myself for picking Burke and Hare.

Really? ” He isn’t being sarcastic. He is actually interested. “They were Muslim,” I say. I turn to the third-graders at the board next to me. I’m ready for my match. Problem is, after having seen my lack of chess chops, they’ve lost interest. I’d be a waste of their time. So I pack my bag and go. I probably knew the gap between information and know-how was big, but I had gotten a firsthand lesson in just how big it can be. On the way home, I kick my Palm Pilot’s butt, then explain to it all the mistakes it made.

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