Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 36: The Know-it-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs

In 2003, Esquire editor A.J. Jacobs took on a great task: he decided to read the entire Encycopedia Brittanica. His goal was to absorb as many facts as he could in order to become the smartest person in the world. As he worked through the thick tomes, he gained a new respect for education, adventure, and elevators. He watched his relationship with his father grow, and found himself wiser in the long run.

This book was long - not as long as the Brittanica, of course - but it took a lot of hours to read and comprehend. But it was filled with fun stuff. Nothing could have prepared me for A.J.'s one-liners or for the riotous situations in which he finds himself. I laughed so hard at the Mensa and Crossword chapters, I thought I was going to wake up the kids.

I can respect the author's sheer determination and willpower, as well as his ability to get himself into awkward situations that seem to get worse by the minute. We all know what that feels like, but he seems to have a certain knack for it. (A.J. is also well-known for his most recent undertaking: a book about his experience of living according to Biblical law for one whole year.) He was also ridiculed incessantly - the digs from his co-workers alone were daunting. But he found strength he didn't know he had, and pushed on.

I will take many lessons from A.J. and I make the following promises to myself. I will be curious about things that don't interest me (maybe I'll give Soduko another chance), and remember that truth is always stranger - and sometimes more interesting - than fiction.

I want to read it again! I LOVED this book.

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