By A. J. Jacobs
Half memoir and half schooling (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and possible very unlikely quest to learn the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.
forty four MILLION WORDS
10 BILLION YEARS OF HISTORY
1 OBSESSED MAN
To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League schooling, A.J. Jacobs units for himself the daunting activity of studying all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His spouse, Julie, tells him it is a waste of time, his associates think he's wasting his brain, and his father, an excellent lawyer who had as soon as tried a similar 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 the whole lot of Jacobs's lifestyles -- from his newly minted marriage to his complex dating together with his father and the remainder of his charmingly eccentric ny kin to his day activity as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's venture checks the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to discover the genuine which means of intelligence as he endeavors to affix Mensa, win a place on Jeopardy!, and take in 33,000 pages of studying. On his trip he stumbles upon many of the strangest, funniest, and such a lot profound evidence approximately each subject lower than the sunlight, all whereas fighting fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing worry that attends his first real-life accountability -- the upcoming delivery of his first child.
The Know-It-All is an inventive, mightily interesting memoir of 1 man's mind, neuroses, and obsessions, and a fight among the all-consuming quest for authentic wisdom and the indisputable reward of hard-won knowledge.
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Extra resources for The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
Yet then I made issues a lot, a lot worse by way of committing a silly blunders: I wrote "f = m + a" rather than the extra conventional (if just a little cliched) equation "f = ma. " Nick duplicated my mistakes. As we used to claim again then, we have been so busted. the pinnacle of the excessive school--a pudgy bearded man who pretended to be loosey-goosey and liberal, yet who used to be truly a complete hard-ass--scheduled a gathering with me and my mom and dad for tomorrow. I went domestic and spent numerous hours scribbling a three-page, single-spaced, brilliantly reasoned protection. My argument boiled all the way down to this: all morality is relative. i've got my very own ethical procedure. In my ethical approach, letting Nick cheat off my examination used to be no longer unsuitable. accordingly what I did was once now not flawed. as a result the Dalton university can't punish me. QED. In practise for our assembly, I offered my argument to my mom and dad. you recognize, simply to see in the event that they had any little feedback. "And therefore," I learn to them off my yellow felony pad, doing my top to talk from the diaphragm, "the Dalton university has no philosophical grounds on which it will probably punish me. you need to allow me cross. " I appeared up. My dad's face was once very stern. Even my mom--who mostly supported me, who enjoyed to boast approximately my brilliance, who knew i used to be particular ever for the reason that I mastered that Tonka unload truck prior to any of my classmates--even mother appeared unsatisfied with me. Her face was once scrunched up, as though she'd simply wandered right into a sizeable patch of arales (a flowering plant that emits a fetid scent that draws flies). "I imagine that is a truly undesirable idea," stated my dad. "Just move in there and say you are sorry. " "No, i am asserting this. it will paintings. belief me. " I introduced the notes for my speech to the assembly with the administrator. yet as I studied his unsmiling face and listened to his lecture at the honor code, i started to suspect my mom and dad have been correct. it can take greater than a well-organized five-minute speech on moral paradigms to notably adjust his ethical philosophy. And if i made a decision to aim, i would good locate myself employing for academic possibilities at excessive colleges now not featured in Woody Allen videos. So as an alternative, the administrator bought to listen to how sorry i used to be that I allow Nick cheat off my paper. actually, really sorry. "It used to be fallacious letting Nick cheat off my paper," I stated, shaking my head in disbelief on the blackness of my soul. "I'll by no means do it back. " at any time when i feel of this tale, i am regularly surprised at my preliminary point of myth. these days, i do know that fantastically crafted philosophical arguments won't get you out of hassle at paintings, get you a elevate, or land you a desk at Nobu. And if I have been that bearded administrator this day, it certain would not paintings on me. moral relativism--even if I nonetheless clung to it intellectually within the years that followed--has little effect on my postschool lifestyles. studying the Britannica, even though, had a strange impression on me: it truly made me less of a moral relativist. I had a imprecise thought from highschool and faculty that I will not be judging different cultures, particularly preliterate ones.