The Know-It-All {52 Books}

Literally laughing out loud when you’re reading a book is one of my favorite feelings in the world. While Reading A.J. Jacobs and the craziness and quirkiness that came with reading through the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I found myself laughing on the bus, in a living room full of people, and all alone, propped up in bed by many pillows.

The Know-It-All.

Jacobs decides to read through the ‘EB’, as he calls it, mostly because he realizes as he gets older he is becoming dumber. His brain is atrophying.

know it all

He used to be smart, at least thought he was smart, and so it was time to get after actually being smart.

The book is written in 26 chapters – one for each letter in the alphabet. As you learn about strange, random, and crazy things that only people who read the EB know about, you also learn about what it is like to take on a crazy, strange, and often misunderstood adventure.

Doing something epic and strange is familiar to me.

There is something interesting about being able to say you’ve done something epic…you have to do all the work that gets you there. There is a whole lot of daily doing that no one sees or understands which you have to be committed to in order to accomplish big, crazy things. To be able to say “Done!”

Oddly enough, Jacobs’s EB adventure and my Bikini or Bust! adventure had a lot of similar learnings.

  • Everyone has an opinion about it.
  • Talking about it all the time is something you want to do, but is rather annoying to the people you love most in your life.
  • The things you are learning and doing doesn’t always make good dinner party conversation.
  • You have to give up a lot of stuff you used to do to make room for your new adventure.
  • The appeal of the audacious goals quickly wears off and you have to learn the art of being committed to and happy about the daily grind.
  • People are always asking you, “WHY?!”
  • When you finish, there isn’t a ribbon cutting ceremony nor is the NY Times at your doorstep begging you for interviews. Real life meets you and you meet it changed in ways you don’t even realize yet.

Throughout the book you follow the journey of what it is like for a grown man to struggle with feelings of incompetency and inadequacy when he compares himself to others – especially his father, as he and his wife want to have a baby but are not pregnant, and trying to prove his intelligence through Mensa, Jeopardy!, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Everyone must do something with their life.

Your something is different than my something. And my husband’s something? Different yet again.

To parrot Horace Mann. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”  I agree with Jacobs’s opinion that is good, even great, wisdom.

Not every moment and learning of an adventure is life changing and revolutionary, but when added together the sum of the small things you’ve accomplished results in something great.



Reading The Know-It-All reminded me of an important truth. Set your heart on something big, audacious, and weird and then go after it – day by day, moment by moment and don’t be discouraged by the little, seemingly insignificant accomplishments. After all those eeny, weeny things are what create accomplishment and the honor of being able to say, “DONE!”

What crazy thing are you setting your heart on? How do you stay focused on it day by day?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!


  1. I just picked up my copy at the library!

Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.