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The Areas of My Expertise Hardcover – October 20, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Printing edition (October 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525949089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525949084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With his Daily Show appearances and his "I'm a PC" Apple ads, John Hodgman has only become more famous since the hardcover edition of his all-you-need compendium of facts, The Areas of My Expertise was released. He has also become smarter. To reflect this, the paperback edition of The Areas of My Expertise has been expanded to include 100 new hobo names and new, additional complete world knowledge. John Hodgman and his fur-hatted associate, Jonathan, have prepared an exclusive video for Amazon customers explaining the above.


Click here or on the image above to watch John Hodgman describe the only book you'll ever need.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this super-literate, ultimately exhausting exercise in literary parody, New York Times magazine contributor Hodgman has produced "a compendium of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE." From sections titled "What Will Happen in the Future" to "What You Did Not Know About Hobos," he piles up smart-alecky nonsense in layer upon layer of surreal, wholly fictional factoids. Whether highlighting American presidents who had hooks for hands, or sketching out the mythical secrets of Yale University, Hodgman creates a strange and intermittently hilarious parallel universe where lists of history's worst haircuts (in addition to the Mullet, there are the Scrape, the Scab and the Shag-Swoop) are printed alongside descriptions of "famous novels that were not originally published as books." Sprinkled throughout with breathless "factual" interjections—"Were you aware of it? The body of Thomas Edison was never buried. Instead it was displayed for many decades in a traveling carnival.... DOES IT EVEN SEEM POSSIBLE?"—this "almanac" demonstrates Hodgman's formidable imagination, if not his ability to amuse consistently. The individual passages are funny but get lost in an already overstuffed work. For the hyper-well-read fans of publications like McSweeney's, this is a treasure trove of twisted absurdist miscellany. For others, however, it may just be too much of a good thing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

This book was very funny.
Jeffrey Schumacher Jr.
Well, John Hodgman's "The Area of My Expertise" is that rare treasure - a truly funny, fascinatingly absurd book that you can't put down.
Andy French
My "inner voice" just isn't up to the task of doing his work justice.
Dennis Tennant

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

714 of 733 people found the following review helpful By John Hodgman on January 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am the author of the book in question, and I am concerned by the report here regarding multiple, unwanted mailings on my behalf.

I have a small mailing list to whom I sent a weekly update about my book during the fall. Those updates have now ceased, though they may resume in the future. Membership on this list is voluntarily and frequently discouraged by me in order to avoid fraying readers' nerves as little as possible.

If you feel you have received spam in my name, please feel free to contact me via my website. So as not to seem wholly crass, I will not list the URL here, though you can figure it out, I trust. Once you are there, simply click on the words "John Hodgman" and then "desperate."

I would be glad to investigate this matter and resolve it if I can. I also have some excellent investment opportunities and low rate mortgages on prescription drugs that I am sure you will want to hear about.

Sorry to briefly commandeer these reviews for this matter. It is cheesy, I realize, to give my own book five stars; but I am not going to give it zero stars on principle, because despite what you may have heard, I do not loathe myself quite that much yet.

I apologize for the interruption. End transmission.

That is all.
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126 of 140 people found the following review helpful By M. G Navadomskis on November 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That last couple days, during some quiet moments, I have picked up this book and read a few pages. Within moments my 5 year old is asking me "Why are laughing?" I don't usually laugh out loud during books or movies. I'm more of a quietly reflecting in the back of my brain "that was amusing" kind of guy. But this book is amazingly funny.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Tim on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hodgman's contributions to McSweeney's led me to this book, and THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE is almost entirely without disappointment. This isn't a book to read straight through, in a week; it's a book to sample from all year long. This is the sort of collection of stories and musings and articles that's best kept nearby to be accessed when the mood strikes.

The style here is vaulted, relaxed, and perfectly ridiculous all at the same time. Some authors have imagination, some have language, and Hodgman has both, in excess.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By El Chubasco on November 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You know those rare moments when you are reading a book and something strikes you as stunningly hilarious? From out of nowhere? And then you have to put down the book for awhile because you are secretly afraid you have just read the funniest thing you will ever read so what is the point of continuing to read anything again ever? Well this book is that book. And that phenomenon occurs several times throughout it. All hail John Hodgman and the h in sunrays!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
"An almanac of random, fascinating and utterly unreliable information -- Hodgman has the gift of being outrageously but quietly convincing. He begins at the absolute outer edge of credibility and, as if he is holding your hand, walks you over the edge into a very funny mix of reality and nonsense. Take hobos, for instance -- or as Hodgman refers to it, the "hobo movement in the United States." He discusses at length hobo hieroglyphics, the only hobo Cabinet member in U.S. history and Walker Evans, who Hodgman describes as being a secret agent posing as a photographer in order to assassinate prominent hobo leaders." NPR

John Hodgman tells us that there has only been one murder in the history of the space shuttle. This took place in 1984. The astronaut, the planner, the engineer, the cocktail waitress and the librarian were all suspects. I cannot tell you who did commit the murder, but it is well known. He discusses hunting and cooking your own polar bear steaks. Julia Child knew this subject well. Also a chapter on Daves Ultra Hot Hot Hot Sauce-which are packaged in little coffins and promises your death. These little known and untrue facts are yours for the asking. These and so many other subjects that would take me all day to discuss are told in amazing detail by John Hodgman. Each chapter has its own charm, or well, its own place.

This is not a book for children. There are obscene words and stories and facts that children would not understand. In fact, there were some parts of this book I did not understand, but, all in all, it had me in stitches from one chapter to the next. The author works for television "The Daily Show' and appears on NPR"s "This American Life". John Hodgman is a graduate of Yale, and is a former literary agent.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Strange on November 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to describe exactly why this book of parody is so good, so suffice to say, you have to read it to understand why Hodgman is so funny. It is great to read something that doesn't take itself seriously at all, and freely admits it is all for the humor. Check it out, you'll be laughing a week after yo finish recalling some of the topics skewered by Hodgman.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sheri M. Stinemire on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
I realize that reviews are wholly based on interpretation and opinion and I respect that. But I don't get people who don't like this book. No offense. That being said (or written, in this case), I loved this book. I found it entertaining, odd and hugely funny and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh. My grandmother wouldn't get this humor, so if you're her, don't buy it. Everyone else--go for it.
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