Tag Archives: A.J. Jacobs

2012 – A Lot to Be Excited About

Let's hope the Mayans were wrong.

It’s the time of year for lists. Many many lists. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, toilet paper companies, all of ’em are doing their Best of 2011 lists. While I would love to know what the 5 Softest Toilet Papers of 2011 were, we thought it would be more interesting to look ahead to 2012 and talk about the books to be published that we are excited about reading. So, barring that end of the world thing that the Mayans predicted, here are a few books that each Rampant Reads lady can’t wait to get her greedy mitts on.

(NOTE: Rhymenocerous just had to go off to Russia while we wrote this post, so her picks aren’t in this list. Let’s all just be jealous and have a vodka shot in her honor.)


Anatasia Beaverhausen:

The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Jan. 10)

I don’t have to wait long for this one and THANK GOODNESS. They released the first 2 chapters online (you can read them online here) and I am already hooked. The premise sounds a bit grim – girl with terminal cancer finds love – but John’s writing and superb characters will change your expectations and make this not to miss. Plus, he signed EVERY SINGLE PRE-ORDERED COPY, god bless him.

Black Heart by Holly Black (Apr. 3)

Holly is one of my favorite YA authors, as evidenced by my treasured signed copy of Tithe in my intro post. This is the 3rd book in her superb “Curse Workers” series and I can’t wait to see where she takes it.

The Doors of Stone (The Kingkiller Chronicles Day 3) by Patrick Rothfuss (Date ?)

Rothbuss exploded onto the fantasy scene with the first book in this series, The Name of the Wind, in 2009, and his brilliant writing and playing with fantasy tropes made it an instant hit with fantasy fans. I think even folks who aren’t fantasy people would eat this series up. Each book takes place over one day and I am DYING to finish this up. GIVE ME A RELEASE DATE!!
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That Jon Stewart Knows What He’s Talking About

 As usual, Robin Sparkles gets credit for introducing me to awesomeness.  Last summer I read the Hunger Games trilogy and the Millennium trilogy pretty much back to back, and it was a whole lot of depressing.  Excellent, compelling depressing, but still.  I sent an email to my friends for suggestions of a book that wouldn’t make me want to spend the rest of my life curled up in the fetal position in my bed, and Robin came through, as usual, with The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.   It was the perfect book for bringing me back from the dark reading I had been doing, and  I picked up his most recent offering, My Life as an Experiment, a few months later.  I am now officially hooked on A.J. Jacobs’ writing.  I would consider subscribing to Esquire if he was a writer instead of an editor.  I don’t know that his cuts and stets are quite as enthralling as his writing, though.   Needless to say, I had high expectations for A.J.’s earlier book, The Know-It-All.  It did not disappoint.

The Know-It-All chronicles A.J.’ s quest to read the Encyclopaedia Brittanica  from A to Z.  The style mirrors the encyclopedia, with headers that relate either directly or indirectly to the “entry” below.  Sometimes it’s a fun fact from the entry in the encyclopedia (a vinaigrette is a small, gold container with a sponge soaked in lavender and vinegar that was used to battle body odor), and sometimes it’s a word that is marginally related to an anecdote that follows (Matthew Perry’s entry encompasses A.J.’s audition for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?)  There’s not really a tight plot here, so if you’re looking for something that will suck you in and keep you up til 4am, this is not it.  However, if you want a book that you can read on a little bit at a time that will make you laugh out loud, this is for you.  There is a story loosely woven among the various entries, so don’t think that it’s just a random collection of facts.   Bits and pieces of A.J’s life are sprinkled in, with the main storyline focusing on A.J. and his wife Julie’s efforts to get pregnant and start a family.  They pay particular attention to fertility goddesses in the EB, going so far as to celebrate a new one each week, until IVF succeeds and they are on their way to becoming the proud parents of Jasper.

This was  a fun read, and I enjoyed learning all of the random facts.  I’m cool like that.  Now I just need to figure out a way to mention Descartes’ fetish for cross-eyed women in casual conversation.  Someone bring it up so I can drop some knowledge on you.

I really can’t improve on Jon Stewart’s blurb, so I will let him sum up: “I’ve always said, why doesn’t someone put out a less complete version of the encyclopedia? Well done, A.J.”