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I Am A Literary Illiterate

November 10, 2009

TrivialPBook1I love trivia. I’m a sucker for most trivia shows, online games and board games. Generally I do quite well at them, but even if I don’t I love learning the little facts that make the games irresistible. Sometime ago (probably about a year) I stumbled across the Book Lover’s Edition if Trivial Pursuit. Trivia and books? The fact that I got it on sale for under $5 was an unnecessary incentive.

Until recently, I never quite got around to opening the game. In a house with four kids there are a lot of opportunities for board games, but this one doesn’t really appeal to my little ones—even if they do read quite a bit. But in the last month I cracked open the box just to look through the contents, and I found out something about myself…

When it comes to books I’m practically illiterate—an oblivious half-wit.

Well let’s back up a bit. Opening the box, I was treated to a cute little bookstore redesign of the typical Trivial Pursuit setup. The traditional categories are replaced with Children’s, Classics, Non-Fiction, Book Club, Authors and Book Bag. And standing in for the basic pie shells are four delightfully bookish playing pieces.

But as I sat down in my comfy chair (I always hear the Monty Python skit) with a handful of cards it didn’t take long for me to discover that the games charm ended with the visual. Talk about difficult!

OK, the Children’s category, I’ll admit, is easier than the others—keeping a high percentage of the questions to the classics:

Q: What kind of creature is the grouchy Templeton, in Charlotte’s Web?
A: A rat

Q: What Dr. Seuss character declares: “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”?
A: The Lorax

But a most of the rest of the questions—and even some of the Children’s—are incredibly difficult (the sampling below is not cherry-picked, but pulled from the first four cards I pulled from the pack):

Q: What fictional medical examiner gets occasional help from Richmond police officer Pete Marino?
A: Kay Scarpetta

Q: What humorist needed 560 pages to explain The Short History of Nearly Everything for U.S readers, but only 500 pages for British readers?
A: Bill Bryson

Q: What Spokane Indian titled a book of short stories The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven?
A: Sherman Alexie

Q: What author of You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You did the L.A. Times call “H.L. Mencken without the cruelty”?
A: Molly Ivins

Now maybe you got those right, but I didn’t. In fact after looking through 50 or so cards, I’d be surprised if I got more than 10% correct.

The lesson here? Well if there is one, it’s that I obviously have plenty of books to read.

BTW, if you’d like the game you can get it on Amazon for $10. Good luck. You’ll need it.

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Dale would like to take a break from his regularly scheduled nonsense to wish Karen—creator of Write Anything—a very happy birthday. I hope it’s filled with completed word counts.
  1. November 10, 2009 2:46 am

    I got the first two right and then it was all down hill from there.

    I too am trivia nut – so much so no one will play Trivial Pursuit with me. We used to play it when we were twenty somethings but it was more about the amount of red wine one could hold than how many correct answers one could provide – thus I was forever the first in bed and the vultures would decend to divvy up my pie pieces.(And by the way – is it pie or cheese? We call it cheese the little piece)

    However – I figure this is the sort of trivia game my partner would love – given he knows far more about books than me.

    An equivalent for me was reading through the list of books you must read etc – and I’m always lucky to have about 2% read on any list.

  2. November 10, 2009 4:31 am

    Wow. I only got the Bill Bryson question correct, I have no idea about any of the others.

    I feel like a con artist who has just been exposed!

  3. November 10, 2009 10:50 am

    Kay Scarpetta. I knew about Kay Scarpetta. She’s a great cook. I thought I’d pass that on, in case a question about it turns up somewhere in the deck.

    But I’m afraid that’s all the help I can offer.

  4. November 11, 2009 5:55 am

    Thing is, specific names won’t stick in my head unless there’s something really outstanding about the name or character. I read over 100 books a year, and what I retain is usually the general storyline and my impression of the characters.

    The only reason I know “Edward Cullen”, for example, instead of “that sparkly vampire”, is due to the hype surrounding Meyer’s books & movie(s).

    Outstanding (IMO) books (Isobelle Carmody, Jim Butcher, J K Rowling, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and The Mists of Amazon by Marion Zimmer Bradley] I tend to re-read every few years or so — for these books I have a better chance at retaining more details (read: trivia) … but methinks if I were to play a Harry Potter trivia game, I’d still fail miserably, LoL!

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