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Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs Paperback – Oct 30 2007


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Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs + The Ultimate TRIVIAL PURSUIT® Question & Answer Book + Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac: 8,888 Questions in 365 Days
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; Reprint edition (Oct. 30 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812974999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974997
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 14.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #58,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Sciwriter on Sept. 2 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ken Jennings isn't just a nerd who answered 74 games' worth of Jeopardy! questions. He's an erudite, witty, conversational, easy-to-read writer.

This is a wonderful book! Ken explores the history of trivia and all its modern-day manifestations. He also takes us to meet people who write trivia books, compete in high-stakes trivia competitions that make Jeopardy! seem simple, and in general, revel in the pursuit of the neat nugget of fact. Interspersed through the book are chapters telling the story of Ken's Jeopardy! journey. Ken also offers a lot of insight into why "trivia" isn't trivial at all.

I don't think this will be Ken's only book because he's such a good writer and has such curiosity about so many things. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 68 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Freakin' Funny! Sept. 13 2006
By Shocked...Shocked! - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Loved this book way past expectations. Ken Jennings is slyly hilarious, as he takes us on the bizarre roller coaster that was his experience on Jeopardy!. Okay, trivial question: should I have put that period after that Jeopardy!-specific exclamation point? Because it looks funny to me. Ken Jennings would probably know. In this terrific, breezy book, he pulls together tons of intense, detailed trivia about trivia itself - and makes it cool. He's obviously writing about stuff he loves, and makes us see his world and imagine living in it - even for those of us lacking clue one about college quiz bowls, game show history or the difficult art of board game question writing. This is a smart, smart guy who comes across as nearly egoless as possible for someone this interesting, funny and insightful. It was entertaining to get Ken's (usually irreverent) take on his fellow brainiacs, Jeopardy!, Trebek, pop culture and, heck, life as we know it. I laughed aloud too many times to count. Don't be a dork, my nerdy friend - buy the book, settle in and prepare to snort milk out your nose. Enjoy.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Trivia... This is your life Sept. 20 2006
By Scott Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First off, this book isn't the fluffy memoir that might be expected of a pop culture 15-minuter. It's not an extensive autobiography or a ghostwritten rehash of the exact experience Ken went through in front of a national audience.

And while this is good - no matter how nice a guy Ken seems, 200+ pages about his life may not be a great page-turning experience - Brainiac seems a little light on Ken's "Jeopardy!" run, almost giving it passing mention and completely neglecting his (admittedly non-memorable) appearance in the show's Ultimate Tournament of Champions.

This is too bad, since putting a picture of Ken behind a podium on the front cover with the tagline "The greatest champion in 'Jeopardy!' history" implies more Trebek-related material.

That said, I really liked Brainiac. Ken clearly can write - at no point during the book would I have suspected it was a first attempt by a recent computer programmer. His prose is easy to read and not overly cerebral. He explores all the nooks and crannies of a subject, trivia, that is dedicated to the exploration of nooks and crannies. He spends time with a college quiz bowl team, visits a giant city-wide trivia contest, and meets with the authors of storied trivia books. Sometimes these experiences make the book move slowly, like an extended history of NTN bar trivia bookended by a visit to a pub quiz game in Massachusetts. But Brainiac is fun, unique, and well-put together.

Ken also ingeniously baked ten trivia questions into each chapter, using superscript numbers to identify the clues. A large number of these questions are substantially harder than the material on "Jeopardy!", but it's a clever concept that overall serves the book well.

There is, however, one caveat to my endorsement of this book. As the President of a major college quiz bowl team, I have a natural nerdy interest in trivia and matters trivial. My one thought throughout the book was, "I wonder who, outside the trivia circuit, could really read and enjoy this book." But, as Ken points out, almost all Americans are involved in trivia in some format, so maybe this niche book actually has a target market of everybody.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A great read even if you don't watch Jeopardy! Sept. 14 2006
By Sciwriter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ken Jennings isn't just a nerd who answered 74 games' worth of Jeopardy! questions. He's an erudite, witty, conversational, easy-to-read writer.

This is a wonderful book! Ken explores the history of trivia and all its modern-day manifestations. He also takes us to meet people who write trivia books, compete in high-stakes trivia competitions that make Jeopardy! seem simple, and in general, revel in the pursuit of the neat nugget of fact. Interspersed through the book are chapters telling the story of Ken's Jeopardy! journey. Ken also offers a lot of insight into why "trivia" isn't trivial at all.

I don't think this will be Ken's only book because he's such a good writer and has such curiosity about so many things. I'm looking forward to the next one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not what you think... Oct. 24 2006
By gregory dwyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had seen this books literally dozens of times in the "Games" section of my local book store, yet had never given it a look, despite being a former (mediocre) college bowl contestant and (small-time) Jeopardy winner. I assumed it was another boring autobiography from someone trying to capitalize on his newfound fame. I got an email from a fellow trivia fan who told me to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

The book is less about Ken Jennings and more about trivia as a whole. Jennings focuses on its history as well as its popularity in certain pockets of today's society. Jennings takes an indepth look at an annual trivia contest which completely consumes Stevens Point, Wisconsin as well as the bar trivia scene, the quiz bowl circuit and much more. Of course, Jennings also gives a look into his amazing streak on Jeopardy and an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes.

Even though Jennings peppers his text with facts and "trivia questions", one need not be a trivia fanatic to enjoy the book. It's surprisingly well written, and even funny at times. The history of trivia and an examination of how it pervades our culture is will interest most inquisitive readers.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A quick and enjoyable read June 22 2010
By Steve Conslaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Okay, to be frank, I checked this out at the library, and I don't have it with me for reference. I enjoyed this book. I read it in a day or two. I learned a lot about the trivia subculture. I have to admit, I really like this guy. I emailed him out of the blue and asked him to congratulate my daughter's academic team on a tournament win. He sent them a warm and personal congratulations. He's A#1 in my book. Since he was so nice to the kids, I feel a little guilty for not buying it, so I might buy a copy anyway.

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