Brainiac is a fascinating piece of autoethnography. Ken Jennings takes you behind the scenes of his amazing 75 appearances on Jeapardy, and into the heart of a trivia loving subculture.
Ken Jennings became a household name during his unprecedented 75 game streak on Jeapardy in which he piled up $2.5 million in winnings. There are the numerous television game shows, but there is a fascinating world of trivia lovers competing and collecting in relative anonymity; the College Quiz Bowls (and its spinoffs, ACf & NAQT), NTN and locally produced trivia in pubs and restaurants scattered across the nation, the nation’s largest trivia contest held in Wisconsin in which a whole town becomes involved… and of course that Trivial Pursuit board game that is tucked away in your closet as it is in 10% of American households. Ken Jennings blends personal revelation with investigative reporting in this masterful narrative of the world of trivia.
I loved the book and encourage you to read it. In addition to enjoying the reading experience, you will probably learn a few things along the way such as;
- The name given to the groove above your upper lip and running from nose to mouth is “philtrum”.
- Igor Sikorsky invented the helicopter.
- Hydrologically speaking, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are a single lake.
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Stylistically this book made me think of some of previous reads such as Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, Horse of Pride: Life in a Breton Village and Chapter and Verse: A Skeptic Revisits Christianity. I recommend them, also.
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