Friday, February 29, 2008

Brainiac - Ken Jennings


What do Ken Jennings and the Energizer Bunny have in common? For a few months back in 2004, Ken kept going and going and going, winning over 70 games on Jeopardy! and smashing earnings records. Brainiac is not just about his long hot streak on the show, but about his early love for trivia, and how trivia slowly grew into a passion for many in America during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Among other things, Ken interviews the author of several 1970s trivia books; talks to A.J. Jacobs, the author of The Know-It-All; explores how TV quiz shows were popular in the early days of television, lost their credibility due to scandal, slowly regained respect and attained new heights when "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" hit the airwaves; travels incognito to check out the pub trivia scene and, with a fellow Quiz Bowl alum and buddy, attends an annual 54-hour tournament in a small town in Wisconsin that grips townspeople both young and old with trivia fever that often spills over into obsession.

Jennings is a breezy, entertaining writer and displays the winning charm, modesty and wit we all came to know while he was the reigning Jeopardy! champion. As a bonus, he embeds trivia questions into the narrative and gives the answers at the end of each chapter. If you're tired of seeing a lot of ME in the MEmoirs you've read so far, Ken Jennings' Brainiac is a refreshing change. Ken realizes that he's just another fun tidbit of trivial knowledge.

4 comments:

N.Vasillis said...

I loved watching Ken on Jeopardy. I didn't even know that he wrote a book. I'm adding it to my TBR list.

alisonwonderland said...

i read this one last year and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Sushanah said...

This sounds like a refreshing read. I've been adding to my list from these posts in case I finish with my initial choices early - there are so many cool titles out there in this category. I'm writing this one down:)

The Protagonist said...

Oh, and "Sushanah" is me, otherwise known as the account-selection-challenged protagonist. Cheers!