Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.
Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.
For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.
The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.
This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.
A good education and a kind heart will serve you well throughout your entire life.
With short chapters, more like memories, this is an incredibly easy book to read.
Unfortunately, I did find the stories within to be incredibly hit or miss. I was on board from the beginning, the chapters moving quickly, the stories of his Sudbury upbringing were interesting, and I was excited to see how he found himself hosting Jeopardy! But the more I read, it started to become tedious. At times clichéd, others almost preachy, some chapters felt out of place, like their only role was to brag or name-drop. Most of the jokes felt out of place and became monotonous as they were repeated with only slight variations throughout. By the end, I was in a very different place than when I started; much more relieved than interested.
I have to conclude that the biggest problem with this book is the format. Most of the reviews I’ve read for the book are middling-to-high, whereas the audiobook reviews are overwhelmingly high. Narrated by Trebek and Ken Jennings, I can definitely see Trebek’s dry humour and delivery transforming the plain text of the book into an enjoyable experience.
Losing interest about halfway through, I can’t really go any higher than two stars here. However, if you love Jeopardy! and you’d be interested in learning more about Trebek, don’t let this discourage you. Just maybe check out the audiobook instead.