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One day back in 2003, Ken Jennings and his college buddy Earl did what hundreds of thousands of people had done before: they auditioned for Jeopardy! Two years, 75 games, 2,642 correct answers, and over $2.5 million in winnings later, Ken Jennings emerged as trivia’s undisputed king. Brainiac traces his rise from anonymous computer programmer to nerd folk icon. But along the way, it also explores his newly conquered kingdom: the world of trivia itself.

Jennings had always been minutiae-mad, poring over almanacs and TV Guide listings at an age when most kids are still watching Elmo and putting beans up their nose. But trivia, he has found, is centuries older than his childhood obsession with it. Whisking us from the coffeehouses of seventeenth-century London to the Internet age, Jennings chronicles the ups and downs of the trivia fad: the quiz book explosion of the Jazz Age; the rise, fall, and rise again of TV quiz shows; the nostalgic campus trivia of the 1960s; and the 1980s, when Trivial Pursuit® again made it fashionable to be a know-it-all.
Jennings also investigates the shadowy demimonde of today’s trivia subculture, guiding us on a tour of trivia hotspots across America. He goes head-to-head with the blowhards and diehards of the college quiz-bowl circuit, the slightly soused faithful of the Boston pub trivia scene, and the raucous participants in the annual Q&A marathon in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, “The World’s Largest Trivia Contest.” And, of course, he takes us behind the scenes of his improbable 75-game run on Jeopardy!

But above all, Brainiac is a love letter to the useless fact. What marsupial has fingerprints that are indistinguishable from human ones?* What planet has a crater on it named after Laura Ingalls Wilder?** What comedian had the misfortune to be born with the name “Albert Einstein”?*** Jennings also ponders questions that are a little more philosophical: What separates trivia from meaningless facts? Is being good at trivia a mark of intelligence? And is trivia just a waste of time, or does it serve some not-so-trivial purpose after all?

Uproarious, silly, engaging, and erudite, this book is an irresistible celebration of nostalgia, curiosity, and nerdy obsession–in a word, trivia.

* The koala
** Venus
*** Albert Brooks



From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9781588365521
List price: $13.99
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Of course, I'm a little bitter that my Jeopardy experience was, shall we say, less triumphant than his, but his book is really interesting.

He combines the story of his reign on Jeopardy with a history of trivia contests and lots of jokes, some funnier than others. There are also little trivia-question footnotes for each chapter.

All in all, Jennings seems like a fun guy, and the book was actually a page-turner.more
This is my second Ken Jennings book. I read Maphead last year and really enjoyed it so my husband got me this one for Christmas. I really enjoyed this one too.My favorite parts of this book (just like in Maphead) are his anecdotal stories. In this case - this book follows his journey on Jeopardy - from his decision to audition all the way up until he is eliminated. Those memories are interspersed with stories about the history of trivia and the other forms of competitive and collected trivia. Some of the historical diversions get a bit dry - but when he comes back around to his experiences - his writing is so lively and funny. Recommended!more
Ken Jennings is the brainiac with the 75-game winning streak on Jeopardy. His memoir is a charming, funny, and self-depricating look at the history of trivia, trivia games, quiz shows, and trivia writing in addition to a recounting of his experiences with the television show. Jennings is a fun author who weaves his love of random factoids into his book, making it exciting for the reader who is probably as interested in trivia as he is (well, maybe not THAT into it).more
Ken Jennings is much, much funnier than you would expect. The book is 50% stories from Jeopardy, and 50% tour of trivia culture in the US. But it is 100% funny.more
A solid history of trivia competitions and a funny biography of the man made famous by his Jeopardy winning streak.more
Jenning’s treatise on trivia and his own experiences on Jeopardy! are brilliant without being magnanimous. Everyone involved in the history of trivia and trivia-writing is included in this touching (yet slim) book. This book, paired with Jacob’s Mr. Know-It-All, offer just about all the useless information a person may well need in their lifetime, but will keep them begging for more. Ken’s incorporation of brilliant bits of minutiae into the text makes for wonderful reading.more
Ken Jennings is quite the affable, amusing guy. This came out during his Jeopardy! run and it comes out again in his writing style. I thought the format of this book was ingenious, with trivia questions mixed into the text of each chapter and the answers handily provided on a separate page at the end of each chapter. The chapter titles, formulated in Jeopardy!-like question format are also a neat little quirk. A really fun read!more
A quick breezy read about trivia throughout life and of Jennings' streak. It is amazing to see how many trivia outlets there are in our society - jeopardy, pub quizzes, once a year festivals, etc.more
Adventures in the world of trivia buffs by the Jeopardy champion in a fascinating memoir.more
Read all 11 reviews

Reviews

Of course, I'm a little bitter that my Jeopardy experience was, shall we say, less triumphant than his, but his book is really interesting.

He combines the story of his reign on Jeopardy with a history of trivia contests and lots of jokes, some funnier than others. There are also little trivia-question footnotes for each chapter.

All in all, Jennings seems like a fun guy, and the book was actually a page-turner.more
This is my second Ken Jennings book. I read Maphead last year and really enjoyed it so my husband got me this one for Christmas. I really enjoyed this one too.My favorite parts of this book (just like in Maphead) are his anecdotal stories. In this case - this book follows his journey on Jeopardy - from his decision to audition all the way up until he is eliminated. Those memories are interspersed with stories about the history of trivia and the other forms of competitive and collected trivia. Some of the historical diversions get a bit dry - but when he comes back around to his experiences - his writing is so lively and funny. Recommended!more
Ken Jennings is the brainiac with the 75-game winning streak on Jeopardy. His memoir is a charming, funny, and self-depricating look at the history of trivia, trivia games, quiz shows, and trivia writing in addition to a recounting of his experiences with the television show. Jennings is a fun author who weaves his love of random factoids into his book, making it exciting for the reader who is probably as interested in trivia as he is (well, maybe not THAT into it).more
Ken Jennings is much, much funnier than you would expect. The book is 50% stories from Jeopardy, and 50% tour of trivia culture in the US. But it is 100% funny.more
A solid history of trivia competitions and a funny biography of the man made famous by his Jeopardy winning streak.more
Jenning’s treatise on trivia and his own experiences on Jeopardy! are brilliant without being magnanimous. Everyone involved in the history of trivia and trivia-writing is included in this touching (yet slim) book. This book, paired with Jacob’s Mr. Know-It-All, offer just about all the useless information a person may well need in their lifetime, but will keep them begging for more. Ken’s incorporation of brilliant bits of minutiae into the text makes for wonderful reading.more
Ken Jennings is quite the affable, amusing guy. This came out during his Jeopardy! run and it comes out again in his writing style. I thought the format of this book was ingenious, with trivia questions mixed into the text of each chapter and the answers handily provided on a separate page at the end of each chapter. The chapter titles, formulated in Jeopardy!-like question format are also a neat little quirk. A really fun read!more
A quick breezy read about trivia throughout life and of Jennings' streak. It is amazing to see how many trivia outlets there are in our society - jeopardy, pub quizzes, once a year festivals, etc.more
Adventures in the world of trivia buffs by the Jeopardy champion in a fascinating memoir.more
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