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How to Become an Intellectual: 100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned of Thinkers [Kindle Edition]

Nick Kolakowski
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A Capacious and Quintessential Guide

#1: Carry a Scholarly Book (at All Times)
#12: Know Your Manet from Your Monet
#14: Be Proficient in at Least One Classical Instrument
#64: Learn to Recite Romantic-Era Poetry on Cue

If you think you need a PhD in Greek and Roman philosophy from an Ivy League school to call yourself an intellectual, reconsider your supposition. While you may envy the initials that follow distinguished names of professors and the intellectual elite, it's not the mortar board and scholarly robes you need—it's the obscure esoterica. In this primer, you'll learn to walk the talk of the intelligentsia, leaving simpletons and pseudo-intellectuals in your dust.

Inside How to Become an Intellectual, you will find the prodigious truths every self-respecting learned person lives by. This code of scholarly behavior allows aspiring high-brows like yourself to educate their unfortunate lessers, amaze their Mensa friends, and impress their fellow wise people—one distinguished bon mot at a time!

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nick Kolakowski is a magazine editor and journalist. Currently a staff editor for, Nick has written for McSweeney's, Playboy, WebMD, AutoWeek, Washington Flyer, LOST Magazine, AARP the Magazine, and DC Style, and freelanced for The Washington Post and Washington City Paper.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1608 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media (March 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007O2DWLG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,475 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight and Fun Guide to Intellectual Etiquette June 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
How to Become an Intellectual: 100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned of Thinkers by Nick Kolakowski is amusing and entertaining. Divided into dozens of two and three page maxims covering a wide range of topics. Here you will find advice on such things as choosing your intellectual role model, knowing the basic chess moves, and being wary of spell check. Each maxim states the main point, discusses how to put it into practice, and ends with a usually humorous footnote.

The book is really a guide to etiquette for those that want to leave the favorable impression of an intellectual person when interacting with others. Resist the temptation to show off, whether it's your cell phone, your alma mater, or your Latin. Be engaging and courteous by being polite, losing a debate graciously, and making dinner fun. This book has lots of good advice - and some amusing fluff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divinely Hilarious! June 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
How to Become an Intellectual - 100 Mandatory Maxims is a must read. This refreshing take on intellectuals features belly laughs on each page along with morsels of truth and great advice! If you'd like to know which books to carry around to make you look smart, or which operas you should familiarize yourself with, look no further. I've greatly enjoyed reading Nick Kolakowski's views on appearing intellectual to peers - what kind of jokes to tell, what type of internet signature to have, how to sign a signature for the greatest impact, all great advice to put one ahead of the masses on the scale of intellect.

Each little chapter has a theory and then an example of how to put the theory into practice and then each theory and practice has the inevitable footnote. He covers each subject in a funny, exhilarating way and provides much food for thought as well as tidbits of facts to grow the brain. Each page of this book is a treat. Read it when you need a little pick me up or when you feel you could use some advice after making an unforgivable social blunder in front of the smarties at work. You'll soon feel refreshed and ready to go and put some of these theories into practice. I haven't found the time to choose an instrument to play but I have given thought to pulling out the old jacket with the worn elbows and have decided to choose my jokes wisely and I try not to quote Shakespeare or succumb to the temptations of using Latin phrases too often.

Great book, well written, refreshing and very clever. I am leaving this book around the house so others can absorb the knowledge and become more intellectual to keep up with me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Making a comment about Nick Kolakowski's new book is fraught with self-consciouness. He is a friend and the son of two long time college friends, one of whom was a college roommate. Maybe I should just stop here.

That would be appropriate if this wasn't a terrific book, but it is. It evolves from an opening half that is a combination of satire, cynicism, and astute observations, to a second half that is a primer on appropriate etiquette for whatever generation is now being processed and the knowledge to be learned for a fulfilling life.

Let's start with one sentence, page 13, "The urge to learn and become a true autodidact are what constitute the basis of an intellectual mind." After double checking that my understanding of the word "autodidact" was correct, this set the tone for the book.

It is easy to take this book personally based on one's own experience and mythology. At the beginning, Maxim 1, is "Carry an Intellectual Book(at all times)". That immediately brought to mind the oft told story of the young fellow but a few years older Georgetown grad Bill Clinton at Oxford carrying around a paperback of Blake poems in his back pocket - always the poseur I guess as well as, perhaps, the intellectual. Whenever heading into NYC on the LIRR, I carry my shoulder bag with books, magazines, and writing pad, books intellectual and not so much, like now by Duane Swierczynski and Colum McCann - odd combination obviously.

Maxim 1 is investigated here just as an example of the thoughts that emerge as one goes through Nick's maxims.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Ask Me, It's Good Fun July 26, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The title might make this book sound kind of serious minded. But I think it is meant to be a little irreverent and good fun. In any case, it is amusing, and readers might well see some things they'd like to try out - hopefully, not just affectations. Take a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I remember watching a scene from Whit Stillman's 1990 film "Metropolitan", about a not-so-rich college student named Tom Townsend, who attends events where intellectuals go to and when he somehow ends up going to a party with them. He discusses conversations about Lionel Trilling, Fanny Price, Jane Austen novels, etc. And right after high school, I found myself connecting to this film because I wanted to be part of this circle of intellectuals.

Granted, I was not born a WASP, nor would I be attending an Ivy League college, nor was I born in a wealthy family but I had a thirst for intellectual conversations, I had a strong interest in foreign cinema, art, politics, opera and classical music.

How the 18-year-old me, would have loved to read Nick Kolakowski's "How to Become an Intellectual: 100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned at Thinkers".

A hilarious, fascinating and fun book, Kolakowski's book has a lot of truth in it but also things that shouldn't be taken to literally. In the book, Kolakowski offers 100 maxims, several paragraphs of why, a theory into practice of how one can include it in their life and the inevitable footnote.

For example, Kolakowski's first Maxim is to "Carry an Intellectual Book (At all Times)". Personally, these days, I know of no one who carries a book with them at all times, unless its on their iPad, Kindle Fire or Nook (including magazine subscriptions which I see many friends downloading digital copies to their tablet), but aside from the conversations of books at a restaurant or event, to a person's home to look at their library with a plethora of books, it's all about one's willingness to engage in conversations about books and know what people are talking about.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
Good advice for those who feel their mental abilities and acquired knowledge are not fully appreciated. It's also a lot of fun!
Published 2 months ago by TheCounter
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read
This book looks at the elements one needs to become (or appear to be) an intellectual. Well written and has a great sense of humor.
Published 11 months ago by Hello!
5.0 out of 5 stars "Intellectual" Is A Mindset!
I think this book tries to be a little cute in its "100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned of Thinkers," and some of these "mandatory maxims" are complete... Read more
Published 12 months ago by April Blake
5.0 out of 5 stars Helariuos
Found this book very interesting and absoultly helariuos!! Thanks!! Looking forword to read some more of it!! Highly recomended! Thanks
Published 13 months ago by Maiken
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny or serious, you decide
As a recent graduate of the Humanities I picked up this book thinking it was either going to be a satirical look at higher education ( a little self-deprecated humor never hurt... Read more
Published 17 months ago by S. Nichols
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainingh and Thought-Provoking
"How to Become an Intellectual" is a lighthearted, amusing read, but you might also learn something as you peruse these pages. Read more
Published 18 months ago by W. C HALL
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I thought this would be either funny (in a skewering pretension sort of way) or interesting (in a fascinating intellectual tidbits sort of way) but it wasn't much of either. Read more
Published 18 months ago by kevnm
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't make an impression on me at all
I realize that this book was meant to be half-serious and half-funny, but I found that the humor was the same throughout the book, and not very funny at all. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Soozie4Him
4.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical Satire
It's a quick, easy, funny read and you will learn from it. Some of the maxims are completely hysterical. Who said learning couldn't be funny. Read more
Published 19 months ago by T. Love
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read, somewhat satirical, and had some good advice
I don't know if I can truthfully call myself a genuine intellectual. I like philosophy, psychology, music, languages, writing, teaching and my favorite humor is satire. Read more
Published 20 months ago by LindaT
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More About the Author

Nick Kolakowski's work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney's, Washington City Paper, Playboy, LOST magazine, Trader Monthly, WebMD, and eWeek, among other venues. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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