On leaving school or university, you feel pretty pleased with yourself. You've learnt a lot, you're well-read, and you know a whole bunch of obscure facts guaranteed at some point to appear in the questions on Mastermind or University Challenge. Then you get a job, and ten years later, you're more eloquent and eager to argue about Britney and Big Brother than Beckett and the Brontes. Sound familiar? Well, it happened to AJ Jacobs too. As an editor at “Esquire”, Jacobs had built up an impressive knowledge of celebrity trivia - and the cure was going to take a long time. While others read a broadsheet at the weekend, or become casual newsnight enthusiasts, Jacobs elected to read the “Encyclopaedia Britannica”. All 33,000 pages of it. Bill Bryson meets Schott's Original; Miscellany meets Woody Allen. Part assemblage of fascinating trivia, part journey through adulthood, all laugh-out-loud funny.
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