Amos Urban Shirk (c. 1890 – October 20, 1956) was an American businessman, author and reader of encyclopedias.
As a businessman he worked in the food industry. He wrote Marketing Through Food Brokers, published in 1939 by McGraw-Hill. He invented a synthetic chicle and introduced vitamin capsules to grocery stores.
He was also renowned as a prodigious reader. Shirk read the entire 23-volume 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in four and a half years, reading on average three hours per evening, and taking two to six months per volume. As of 1934, he had begun reading the 14th edition, saying he found it a "big improvement" over the 11th, and saying that "most of the material had been completely rewritten".
Shirk did not limit himself to Britannica. He also read Henry Smith Williams's 24-volume Historians' History of the World, which took him two years, as well as an 18-volume set of works by Alexandre Dumas, a 32-volume set of Honoré de Balzac, and a 20-volume set of Charles Dickens.
Shirk had other hobbies including painting and record collecting.
- ^ "A. URBAN SHIRK, SALES SPECIALIST; Merchandising Authority in Food Industry Dies at 66—Invented Synthetic Chicle". The New York Times. October 22, 1956. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
- ^ a b c "Reader". The New Yorker. March 3, 1934. p. 17.
- ^ "Encyclopedist Says: Read to Understand War Events". The Sunday Times-Signal. Zanesville, Ohio. August 9, 1942. p. 9. Retrieved May 5, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.