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The New York Times Presents Smarter by Sunday: 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind Hardcover – October 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This book does exactly what it sets out to do: provide readers with “very basic information in a variety of subjects usually associated with what was once called ‘a well-rounded education.’” Divided into 52 sections—a weekend’s worth of reading for an entire year—the text explores the history of newspapers and magazines, English poetry from Beowulf to the Victorians, the Bible, American fiction, ancient Egypt, the history of computing, radio and television, American cinema, and much, much more. It reads like the kind of textbook you wish you’d had in school: succinct, easily digestible, even stylishly written. It’s also mostly free of political side-taking or editorial commentary; its goal is to inform and provide context but not to make moral or artistic judgments. Adolf Hitler, for example, is discussed in terms of his political and military actions, and the classic films Jaws and Star Wars are described as “action-driven narratives fueled by mechanical and special effects, which became blockbusters that attracted youth audiences and set box-office records.” Readers are left to assign their own moral and artistic values. A very informative, very useful book. --David Pitt

Review

"I wish I'd had this book twenty-five years ago. It is certain to become an indispensable tool for fact fanatics." - BILL BRYSON, Author of Short History of Nearly Everything."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312571348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312571344
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Ex-Pat Brit on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book claims to provide "essential information on a variety of subjects that together make up the basic elements of what is commonly called a "well-rounded education." It is made up of fifty-two 10-page chapters (or "Weekends"), each divided into two 5-page sections - one for Saturday and one for Sunday. It sounds like a great idea and, potentially, the perfect bathroom reader. Unfortunately, the "essential information" provided was so superficial as to devoid of context and, thus, ultimately useless. Plus it was dull, dull, dull. I reviewed topics that I knew well and was surprised that such topics could be reduced to such banal tosh. For several topics, I also compared the book info to Wikipedia. The winner ...Wikipedia. I am just happy that I took the book out of the library rather than paid good money for it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. C Sheehy on January 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book to start, but after a while it really became very tedious to read. Part of the problem was that there was no organization to the book and it was all over the map. It explored some areas of science and literature, yet left out others entirely. (Why no mention of the Vikings when mentioning exploration? Did anyone notice in the section on astronomy there was no mention of Copernicus and Galileo.)

The book seems overly general without offering any real insights. Someone could read this and learn enough to carry on superficial conversations but there is nothing of any great value in this work. As I read in another review, just go to Wikipedia.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By rlweaverii on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

I liked this book. Any book designed to increase the knowledge and information of readers is to be encouraged. Also, The New York Times is a trusted source of information throughout the world. (As is always true with knowledge and information, facts may need to be checked but, in general, the credibility of the source does not require investigation.)

Admittedly, I did not read every one of its 550 pages. Also, there was a great deal of information here with which I was already familiar and a great deal, too, with which I had no interest whatever. For example, I really had no interest in a brief history of Japan, a political and cultural history of Ancient Egypt, a brief history of physics, the European novel, painting in the 19th century, ancient Rome, or mathematics. Many of these cover subjects I took in high school or college, and I don't need a summary/review of previous course work.

There was a great deal of information I found interesting such as "The Computer Revolution," "The Written Word," "The Renaissance," "Great American Writers," "American Popular Music," "Philosophy: The Life of the Mind," "Modern Thought," "Languages of the World," and "American Film." What I enjoyed as much as the review of information and ideas is how the material would make me stop and think. I wasn't particularly challenged as much as simply engaged. (Whether or not I can actually make use of the knowledge/information in the writing I do is yet to be determined.)

I am not suggesting that it would not have benefited me to have read the information on subjects that held no current interest, but as in all things in life, I simply have to devote my time to things of interest.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shirman on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would like to start off by saying I loved the book. Yes,
it is not an in-depth review of all the topics under the sun
but, one should obviously not expect it to be so.

In my opinion, this book is for those who do not have decent
general knowledge but are looking for a great place to start.
I know all the information is readily available on Wikipedia
but, for some body who is just starting off, it may be too
overwhelming[It was for me!].

For example, I wanted to know about the American Civil War[ I am a foreign
student in US :P] but found the information on the internet too elaborate.
I started looking for a source that would first give me the 'big picture'
on important topics and once I understood the basics, I found articles on
the same topic on Wikipedia, Encarta and Britannica much easier to comprehend.

What I usually do is after reading about a certain topic in
this book, I read the corresponding or relevant material from
'The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge'. These two
books complement each other very well. And no, I am in no way
affiliated with or work for New York Times!!

I wish I had these books 15 years ago! Sigh!

Cheers!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terry A. Douglas on January 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am completely enjoying reading a chapter of this book every weekend. I have been surprised and pleased by the depth and scope of the topic coverage. I expect to be much better informed by the end of the year if not any smarter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Genresearcher on January 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this to my husband while he drives on road trips. We find it interesting, but often stop and look up photos of what is being discussed on our ipad. We didn't check to see if this was available as an ebook, but it would have been even more fun with the singer being linked right there on the page as opposed to looking them up and listening to them later, or looking up a picture of the building or the artwork that was being discussed in the article. We like the quality of the articles and have already learned quite a lot in the few weeks we've owned it.
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