Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Book Quiz Questions

I organized a book quiz bowl in time for the University Book Fair. We got representatives from the different colleges of Ateneo de Davao as contestants. Below are the questions I crafted. Try the quiz and see how you fare.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." So begins the children's book written by an Oxford professor who was also a philologist, poet, and codebreaker. The book was originally written for his own children, but later became the prologue to a much larger work involving a quest to destroy the One Ring. Who was the author of this landmark book of high fantasy?

a. Lord Dunsany
b. Michael Moorcock
c. China Mieville
d. JRR Tolkien

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"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." And so we are introduced into the world of a young orphan who, on his eleventh birthday, learns that he is a wizard and is taken into a school for magic. Over the course of seven books, we see the wizard grow while battling the menace of a dark lord. The author of this series wrote the first book over a period of seven years while living in poverty, but in soon became one of the richest persons in Britain. Who is this author?

a. Dianna Wynn Jones
b. Ursula K. Le Guin
c. Octavia Butler
d. J.K. Rowling

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"I volunteer as tribute!" With those words, the heroine of this dystopian series takes the place of her sister and fights in an arena against young warriors from other districts. Over the course of the trilogy, she becomes a rebel and freedom fighter. The author of this book was a TV writer for Nickelodeon. Who is this author?

a. Harper Lee
b. Flannery O'Connor
c. Suzanne Collins
d. Cornelia Funke

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"I'd never given much thought to how I would die — though I'd had reason enough in the last few months — but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this." These opening lines come from a contemporary work of supernatural romance paired an ordinary girl and a handsome, brooding vampire who sparkled in the daylight. The saga would eventually span four books and spawn a multimillion dollar film franchise. The author of the book was a first-time writer who worked as a receptionist; who was this author?

a. Stephenie Meyer
b. Erika Leonard James
c. Bram Stoker
d. Joss Whedon

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"The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." Opening lines from the first book of a series that combined Western adventure with medieval fantasy. The series was written by an American author better known for his horror novels, many of which have been turned into movies; novels like "Christine", "It", "The Shining", and, recently, "Carrie. Who is this author?

a. Stephen King
b. Dean Koontz
c. R.L. Stine
d. H.P. Lovecraft

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"Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now." So warns the lead character of this book series about modern-day demigods taken from Greek mythology; the hero of this book soon learns that he is the son of Poseidon. The author of this book was an English and Social Studies teacher who later went on to create several other successful book series; who is this author?

a. Rick Moranis
b. Rick Warren
c. Rick Riordan
d. Rick Astley

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"The drums were pounding again, pounding and pounding and pounding." Opening lines from the chapter known as "The Red Wedding." Its televised episode stunned fans who were closely following its miniseries adaptation. This, of course, is taken from an ongoing epic fantasy series about warring noble houses in Westeros and Essos. Who is the author of this series?

a. Robert Jordan
b. Terry Brooks
c. Stephen Donaldson
d. George R.R. Martin

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"Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids." These four children enter a magical wardrobe and are transported into another world where they fight together with the lion Aslan against the evil Snow Queen. This novel was written by another Oxford professor, also well known for his popular Christian-themed fiction like "The Screwtape Letters", "The Great Divorce", and "Out of the Silent Planet." Who was this author?

a. Stephen Covey
b. Tim LaHaye
c. C.S. Lewis
d. Philip Pullman

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"There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire." So begins the story of a lovestruck young man who promises to give a star to the woman he is courting, but eventually falls in love with the star herself. This novel was written by a master of modern fantasy who first came to notice writing the stories about Morpheus and Death for DC Comics as well as the novels "Neverwhere" and "American Gods." Who is this author?

a. Dean Alfar
b. Alan Moore
c. Neil Gaiman
d. Poul Anderson

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"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed." In the dystopian future of this novel, firemen burn books and reading is a crime punishable by death. The author of this story is a prolific fantasy and science fiction writer who, in his lifetime, wrote 27 novels and 600 short stories, including "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Who was this author?

a. Terry Pratchett
b. Philip K. Dick
c. Ray Bradbury
d. Isaac Asimov

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"To be, or not to be, that is the question: / Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer / The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune / Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles." With these lines, a prince contemplates suicide, after learning that his father was murdered by his uncle, who later married his mother. This is taken from a play which bears the same name as its hero. What is the title of this play?

a. King Lear
b. Othello
c. Hamlet
d. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven / A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted" The passage comes from a book of the Jewish Ketuvium (or writings) and of the Old Testament. It is also known as Koheleth, or Teacher, and was reputedly written by King David. What is the name of this book?

a. Songs
b. Psalms
c. Ecclesiastes
d. Proverbs

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"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." These opening lines set off a roller-coaster courtship between the daughter of a country gentleman and a haughty estate owner. What is the title of this celebrated 19th century novel of manners and marriage?

a. Wuthering Heights
b. Pride and Prejudice
c. Emma
d. Jane Eyre

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"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." So warns a 19th century Russian novel about infidelity. A married socialite begins an adulterous affair with a rich count, leading to much distress, and her eventual death. What is the title of this novel?

a. Madame Bovary
b. Crime and Punishment
c. Anna Karenina
d. The Lady with the Pet Dog

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"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." Striking lines, indeed! In the dystopian future of this novel, all your words and actions are monitored by the government, represented by Big Brother. Any violation from the norm is considered a "thoughtcrime." What is the title of this book?

a. 1984
b. The Running Man
c. Fahrenheit 451
d. The Hunger Games

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." This novel of sacrifice follows the intersecting lives of Charles Darnay and Sidney Carton, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. What is the title of this book?

a. The Scarlet Pimpernel
b. The Rose of Versailles
c. A Tale of Two Cities
d. Les Miserables

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"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." This Colombian novel that traces the travails of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo. The book became the touchstone for magical realism and kicked off the Latin American Boom of the 1960s and 1970s. What is the title of this novel?

a. Death in the Andes
b. Love in the Time of Cholera
c. The War of the End of the World
d. One Hundred Years of Solitude

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"Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer." Sage advice from an ancient Chinese classic on military strategy. Its principles are still being studied today, and have even been adapted in business books. Its author was Sun Tzu, a general, philosopher, and royal advisor in the Zhou dynasty. What is the better-known English title of this book?

a. The Prince
b. On War
c. The Art of War
d. Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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Louis Leithold was an American mathematician and teacher, born in 1924 and died in 2005 at the age of 80. He is best known for a textbook that is a standard in many engineering and math courses. First published in 1968, the book went through seven editions and is still in use today. What is the title of this book?

a. Differential Equations
b. The Calculus
c. Elements
d. The Algebra

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To write this widely-used reference book, Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter and Dr. Henry Gray worked for 18 months dissecting unclaimed bodies from hospital mortuaries. Gray published this book in 1858. Since then, it has become a staple manual for medical students. The book celebrated its 40th edition and 150th anniversary in 2008. What is the title of this book?

a. The Canon of Medicine
b. Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical
c. De Materia Medica
d. Principles of Internal Medicine

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"Toward the end of October, Don Santiago de los Santos...gave a dinner party that, despite its having been announced only that afternoon, which was not his usual practice, was the topic of every conversation in Binondo and neighboring areas, and even as far as Intramuros." From this innocuous beginning, this 19th century novel develops into a tale of romance, conspiracy, and oppression in Manila. What is the title of this book?

a. El Filibusterismo
b. Ilustrado
c. Noli Me Tangere
d. Viajero

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"Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful." This is the warning of the creature to his creator. Made from dead tissue and brought to life by lightning in a laboratory, the creature soon turns against his maker. This comes from a novel written by a 19-year-old British writer and is considered to be the first work of science fiction. What is the title of this novel?

a. Frankenstein
b. The Invisible Man
c. The Master of the World
d. The Food of the Gods

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"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing." This gentleman, from having read too many adventure books, loses his wits and decides to become a knight errant himself. Who is this gentleman?_________________

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"In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision." Such is the description given by the narrator, a medical doctor, of his roommate in 221-B Baker Street. The said roommate was known as the world's greatest detective. Who is the narrator describing?_________________

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"She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes." And so, the heroine of this classic story of romance realizes that she is really and truly in love with Mr. Darcy. Who is this woman?_________________

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"To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Thus, I give up the spear!" These are the last words of a man obsessed with hunting down a whale that bit off his leg. Who is this man?_________________

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"He had made his fortune in the business, and that of the arrondissement as well, we will admit. He had been appointed mayor, in recognition of his services. The police discovered that M. Madeleine was no other than an ex-convict who had broken his ban, condemned in 1796 for theft...." M. Madeline is the alias of a man who goes by many names: Monsieur Leblanc, Urbain Fabre, Fauchelevent, Prisoner 9430, and Prisoner 24601. What is his real name?_________________

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This young lady is an expert with a bow and arrow, and she used these skills to save the life of a young woman who was about to be raped. Her true love is Prince Aladin, but she was forced to marry the Sultan Ali-Adab in order to save Aladin's life. She escaped from the Sultan into the forest of Albania, where she met the princess Laura. Who was this noble Muslim warrior woman?_________________

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"One morning, as he was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections." Who is this person who has been turned into a giant cockroach?_________________

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"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." This is the lecherous literature professor's description of Lolita, the object of his lust. What is the real name of Lolita?_________________

I designed the quiz using my perceptions and assumptions of the knowledge level of Ateneo college students today. Results: for the eight teams and out of a total possible score of 60, the mean score was 31.5 and the standard deviation was 7.6; but taking out the outliers, the mean becomes 30.83 and the standard deviation drops to 3.85. In other words, I hit the average for the stored knowledge of the students. Check out the scores.

Which college topped the quiz? You might be surprised. It was the School of Engineering and Architecture. They left all the other colleges in the dust, posting a score of 47 points, 11 points away from the next highest team (Humanities and Letters), and 15.5 points from the average.

Or maybe not so surprising, considering it was a former engineering student who organized the quiz bowl and made up the questions. :-)