The Know-Everything Party

A.J. Jacobs turns the act of reading the entire Britannica into a hilarious, touching memoir

IT USED TO BE NICE TO sit next to A.J. Jacobs at a dinner party. He's funny, smart, polite and totally nonthreatening-looking. But ever since he read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica--which he did to write his hilarious book, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Simon & Schuster; 386 pages)--it is best to sit far, far away. His blurting of arcana has got so bad, his wife started fining him $1 for every irrelevant fact he crowbarred into conversation. "She was lenient," he told TIME. "I got away with $150. She could have gotten...

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