13 May 2011

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs

Have you ever thought about being smarter? Have you ever wished you just possessed more trivial facts for games or party chat? That's where A. J. Jacobs found himself.

He read the 32 volumes of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in one year and then wrote a book about the experience (about 90 pages a day). (At least two other people are known to have read a complete edition.) In prep for his task, Jacobs joined Mensa and took a speed-reading course.

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

He described the experience as one that is perfect for the modern day person who is lacking in an attention span as the topics march forward, apace. He found that he did not become bored because of that..but he also found the heavier topics to be hard to slog through.

This was a very interesting book and the personal story he weaved through the tale of his learning adventure kept things moving right along as I read.

One of my favorite quotes from Jacobs is: 

"Reading the Britannica is like channel surfing on a very highbrow cable system, one with no shortage of shows about Sumerian cities."

The author's site may be found here:

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