I recently finished A.J. Jacobs book The Year of Living Biblically
which describes one mans quest to live the ultimate biblical life; to follow every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible for one year. It was a fascinating and humorous read.
So I picked up Jacobs' earlier work, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
. In this book, the author attempts to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica
from A - Z. He shares with his readers what he experiences on this journey and some of his favorite facts from each massive tome as he reads them in alphabetical order.
Since I will more than likely never tackle such a large undertaking, I want to share some of my favorite fun facts cherry picked from his. I've followed Mr. Jacobs as far as the C's so far.AAcoemeti
- A group of monks who provided nonstop choral singing in the 5th
century. Every few hours a fresh vocalist would replace the exhausted monk who sang before him. I like to sing, but this seems like a tough gig.
It brought to mind friends who don't enjoy singing and hear heaven described as a non-stop praise service. I like to think that will work itself out. I remember my sister commenting that when we sang the old hymn When I Wake Up to Sleep No More
it sounded more like hell to her than heaven. She was a teenager at the time and sleeping was one of her favorite activities.B Bacon, Francis -
century intellectual and politician who some suspect to be the real Shakespeare. But here's the interesting part. Bacon died from a cold he caught while stuffing a chicken with snow because he needed to know whether snow delayed putrefaction. This idea came to him while riding in a carriage in the wintertime. He immediately stopped the carriage, bought a chicken and stuffed it with snow. He could not wait to find out! I wish my thirst for knowledge was that strong.Braille, Louis -
Developed his writing system for the blind when he was 15 years old! Let's see, at 15...I was an idiot.CChang and Eng -
Listed together and rightly so, these were the first Siamese twins. I remember seeing their picture in the Guinness Book of World Records or Ripley's when I was a kid and finding out they married sisters and each fathered several children. That stopped me down. What exactly did Chang do while Eng was getting his groove on?Cleveland -
Named for Moses Cleaveland
, a surveyor in the late 1700's, the spelling of the town was changed because dropping the "a" made it fit better on a newspaper masthead. All glory is fleeting.
As I march on to the D's with Mr. Jacobs, I can't wait to see what interesting facts will pop up next. I highly recommend The Year of Living Biblically
. I'll let you know about The Know-It-All
when I get to the Z's