Book Review: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

The Areas of My Expertise by John HodgmanSo not too long ago I was innocently sitting on my usual chair at my boyfriend’s apartment when he suddenly leapt from his seat and dashed off to his room returning shortly with a copy of a book. He handed it to me and said here you can have this to read. It was John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise.  At first I couldn’t stop reading it but then I started to restrain myself, only reading little bits at a time because I didn’t want to be done reading it too soon because I was enjoying reading it so much. Have you ever done that with a book before? I find myself doing that with books more often than not.. unless they are 700 page books – in those cases I find myself cutting them into 20 page chunks only so that I am making sure that I fully absorbed the content because I don’t want to go bounding 50 or more pages into a several hundred page book and then go oh wait what did I just read? I like to take my time with books I’m really enjoying and unless you are being forced to read something for school or work shouldn’t you always be reading something you enjoy? I think so.

This particular book is written in an almanac style so you can open it to any page and start reading from there and the context won’t matter, but I choose to read it from cover to end. The great thing about this book is that the front cover, back cover, inside front and and back covers, and spine are all filled with information as well. The book is filled with a long list of topics that aren’t even necessarily related but are so wonderfully hilariously grouped together that it brought me many nights of enjoyment. I think the great part of it being written in an almanac format is that once you have read it once you can go back, flip to a random page and re-read an entry and have your funny bone tickled again. I guess what I have failed to mention that makes this book so wonderful is that it is composed entirely out of made up facts. Anyone can research and make a book out of real information, but this book is entirely untrue but is presented as if it is true and I just find that hilarious. I’m sure that’s not for everyone but I guess that’s just always been my humour. I used to get a real kick out of the character Cliff Clavin on Cheers and how he would make up stories by the bar, and you knew they weren’t true – even I as a young child knew they weren’t true… but that didn’t make them any less amusing. Growing up as a child, some times at Christmas with family we used to play that game Balderdash where you would pick a word and then everyone would make up a definition and then the game leader would read out all of the fake definitions as well as the real one and you’d try to guess the real one – but my favorite part was always hearing the fake definitions because it seems everyone in my family is so creative when it comes to word play. Even as I got into my teen years and older I liked to make up little fake amusing stories to tell my younger sisters that sounded like they might be true and the older of the two eventually caught on that I was just making stuff up when I’d do these sorts of things (I believe there was I time I’d told one of them that the other was a robot, and that also our pet cat was a robot – oh that was a fun one, I was rather bored that day).  We even made up a fun game to play where we’d look at pictures together and I’d make up silly stories about what  was happening in the pictures based on what I could see in the picture. The events in the stories of course never really occurred but it was always a real laugh riot anyways. So I guess that’s why I enjoyed John Hodgman’s book of fake facts so much – it’s really not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that I would do the same given half the chance. I also adore how he words things – he is a very good writer but then again I suppose he would have to be if you consider some of the credentials he has. You might recognize him from the Daily Show or those Mac & PC commercials (he is the PC). He also used to be a Professional Literary Agent and he been a contributing writer for publications like the New
York Times Magazine.

John Hodgman and a ferret

John Hodgman and a ferret

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an intellectually stimulating good laugh. Someone with a good imagination, and as long as you aren’t too bothered by lists, because there is a fairly long list of hobo names in this book and I suppose you could skip it but some of the names are pretty funny and I could just tell you which ones I thought were funny but what if we think different ones are funny? It would be better if you just read the list for yourself. The day after I finished this book my boyfriend gave me the next book to read which is entitled “More Information ThanYou Require”. I read the front, back, spine, and inside front and back covers last night right before bed but I have been informed today over the phone that since this is a hard cover book (the last one I read was a soft cover) that I actually have to take the dust cover off and read the inside of that too. And I thought I had quite the sense of humour.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

  1. Very nice review, it definitely makes me want to read this book now! It sounds right up my alley. Maybe I should try your method of prolonging reading an enjoyable book, I have yet to do that. If I’m really enjoying it I tend to just read through as much as I can in one sitting (until I have to get stuff done around here haha)..and then I will read it again a million times. Thanks for the review, I’ll have to check it out!

    • Why thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it and that I was able to point you in the direction of another book you might enjoy. He also does pod casts under the name Judge John Hodgman. I was feeling a little down and my boyfriend emailed me one about potlucks, it was rather amusing.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman « smcwrites

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