NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A witty, charming, and engaging dive into trivia’s colorful history, from America’s highest-earning game show contestant of all time
“Insightful, informative, and written with a strong dose of humor and humility. . . . I loved this book.”—Will Shortz, crossword editor, The New York Times
Ken Jennings is trivia’s undisputed king—and as he traces his rise from anonymous computer programmer to nerd folk icon, he explores his newly conquered kingdom: the world of trivia itself.
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 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. (Who knew that there’s a crater on Venus named after Laura Ingalls Wilder? Ken Jennings, that’s who.) Engaging and erudite, Brainiac is an irresistible celebration of nostalgia, curiosity, and geeky obsession—in a word, trivia.