The Know-It-All

  • by A. J. Jacobs
  • Narrated by Geoffrey Cantor
  • 15 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Early in his career, A.J. Jacobs put his Ivy League education to work at Entertainment Weekly. He emerged five years later knowing which stars have fake boobs, which stars have toupees, which have both, and not much else. This realization led Jacobs on a life-changing quest: to read the entire contents of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 33,000 pages, all 44 million words.The mission began in October 2002, with the word "a-ak". The word launches hilarious misadventures through 32 volumes, as Jacobs accumulates useful and less-so knowledge, and along the way finds a deep connection with his father, examines the nature of knowledge vs. intelligence, and learns how to be rather annoying at cocktail parties.
The Know-It-All is an ingenious, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions, and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the obsessive quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.

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What the Critics Say

"One of the book's strongest parts is its laugh-out-loud humor." (Publishers Weekly)
"Sidesplitting." (Time Out New York)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

What were they thinking?

I'm beginning to wonder about the usefulness of some of these reviews, particularly the negative ones. They almost prevented me from listening to Blink by Malcom Gladwell which I LOVED and might have prevailed against me for this one had I paid any attention. They are in such stark contrast to my experience.

I find this book a very enjoyable read and as people have said, it's as much about the author as the book he is reading. I have truly enjoyed the narrator Geoffrey Cantor portrayal of the book. He seems more like an actor reading a script than a narrator reading a book.

The book is long however, but I think I'll be able to stop it for awhile and come back to it fairly easily. I strongly recommend it.
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- Steve James

Very enjoyable

When I first heard about this book,I was mildly interested at the thought of someone reading through the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z (being what Jacobs calls an "encyclopedia dabbler" myself), but feared it would just be a pretentious rehash of what he'd read.

Then, a friend told me how much she'd enjoyed and laughed witt another of Jacobs' books, The Year of Living Biblically. Realizing then that The Know It All would be humorous and informative, I decided I had to listen to it.

What a pleasure! True, the narrator has a nasal voice but as you get into the book, you realize this and his delivery are perfectly fitted for the book.

I learned some facts -- but mostly enjoyed his humor and attitude toward life and learning.

In fact, this is one of the best books I've listened to here at Audible.
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- Linda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2004
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books