I finished “The Know-It-All” and throughout the last half of the book, was repeatedly reminded why I was so gun shy about reading this book to begin with. I’ve definitely decided that I won’t be reading any more A. J. Jacobs books in the foreseeable future. Now, normally I am able to separate an author from his writing. I care little about the opinionated views or politics of a person, so long as they tell me a good story. But as this is a work that depicts Jacobs’ life, I found it to be tedious and annoying. I tried to push past that view, remembering that I somewhat enjoyed “A Year Living Biblically” after I got through my mental blocks about the whole thing. But every chapter, sometimes every page, Jacobs’ struck this chord in me. You know the one, when you want to just shake your head, put down the book, and start on something worth your time. If I still worked full-time, that probably would have been the outcome of that situation. Instead, I have abundant free time on my hands (a fact which the Husband points out quite frequently) so I chose to stumble through the book, focusing instead on the sometimes wonderful tidbits of information found within the boring storyline.
But then Jacobs’ would do or say something supremely similar to the noise that emanates from a donkey’s nether regions. He got into Mensa due to his SAT scores. I thought that his admittance was cool, that is, until he started whining about various geniuses who told him that he couldn’t improve his actual, physical intelligence level by reading the entire encyclopedia. He seemed to take great offense to the suggestion that he just might not be a genius himself though he admits that he failed the IQ test, only skating by on SAT scores from years prior. He mentions numerous brilliant people from the past though he skates over the fact that, were they alive today for him to contact via email or answering service, they’d likely say the same thing. Einstein didn’t know many seemingly common facts (meaning ones that American public schooling places the utmost importance upon), preferring to not waste brain space on facts that he could easily find (a fact that I didn’t get from “Know-It-All”).
All in all, I just don’t seem to like Jacobs. Don’t get me wrong, he seems like he’s a nice enough guy and I obviously enjoy some of his writing. It is just that if I had to describe him in one word, I’d likely pick “jerk”. And I have enough of those in my life.
After “Know-It-All”, I had to lighten my fare a bit so I jumped straight into “Hush: An Irish Princess Tale” by Donna Jo Napoli. I enjoyed the overall storyline enough to put a few of Napoli’s other books on my to-read list. Basically Mel’s brother gets his hand cut off on a visit to Dublin that was attended by the family due to Mel’s want to visit. Her father decides to take revenge on the people responsible and it all goes downhill from there (the events, not the story). The storyline itself left me wanting more information, and thus adding a few more books to my never-ending to-read list, but overall it didn’t offend my sensibilities by offering the view of slavery as something light and happy. I wouldn’t recommend this for a young preteen (I know I was aching to read YA at the age of around 10, my mom held me off for a little while but when you have a child who reads as much as I did, there wasn’t really much she could do about the situation) due to some difficult scenes. Though, not having a preteen nor having been one for quite some time, I say take it as you want it. As a parent I might recommend reading the book through first (it is a quick, and enjoyable read) to see if it is something your child will be able to stomach. But I’m all for reading, with not much emphasis on censorship, so I say, check out the link and decide for yourself.
Once I finished “Hush” (a decidedly quick read, especially as I was so refreshed with the material after struggling through the last hundred pages of “Know-It-All) I picked up “Julie and Julia”. I really liked the movie, which led me to do a search on the author. Apparently her next book wasn’t taken with as much love from the general public as the first but that didn’t sway me. A lover of science fiction and fantasy, I don’t tend to hold much value in the opinions of the general public. At less than 100 pages in, I think the book is alright.
I’m trying with all my might to stay away from the books I have put aside for the 48 Hour Book Challenge. In an attempt to stay awake for the entire 48 this year, I’m picking a lot of books that I really want to read. So they sit (the ones that have arrived so far, that is) on my bookshelf, calling to me, begging me to read them. I will resist!