Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words
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The author of many quiz books aimed at trivia buffs, Rich Meyer’s interests are reflected in the focus of many of those books including comic books and old time radio. Each year Meyer and his team (dubbed “Collective Foole”) participate in the “World’s Largest Trivia Contest,” an event put on by his hometown radio station in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
For more, visit Meyer’s blog. Indie author’s might also be interested in Meyer’s ebook formatting service.
500 trivia questions spanning many pop culture subjects including sports, music, books, TV, history, and more.
Appraising a book like this isn’t something I typically do and deciding on the correct criteria for judging a trivia book was an interesting exercise. I concluded there are two major areas that mattered most, the wording of the questions and the variety of difficulty.
An ideal trivia question will be as succinct as possible, yet specific enough so that a reasonable person won’t be able to argue that there are multiple equally acceptable correct answers. “He was president of the United States of America” would be an awful question for that reason. So someone formulating a trivia question has to sneak enough facts in their questions to make the correct answer unambiguous. Maybe something like “He was president of the United States of America at the beginning of the War Between the States.” That question requires a person to know that the US Civil War is sometimes referred to as the “War Between the States” along with who the president was when this war started. I found the questions in areas I was familiar enough to be able to judge were well written, both unambiguous in the correct answer and sometimes exercising multiple bits of knowledge to be able to come up with the correct answer. They passed my reasonable person test. (Unreasonable people, like Cliff Clavin when he competed on Jeopardy, will always be problematic.)
The other ideal is that the questions should be diverse in difficulty. The Pop Culture Quiz Book seemed to hit a nice balance in this regard, too. The book was arranged in sections with questions in a related area grouped together. I found that the areas I knew I was weak, comic books and comic strips being one, were areas I did poorly as expected, but was still able to answer some questions correctly. Those areas where I knew I was relatively strong, music and books for example, I did well, yet found plenty of questions I struggled with and couldn’t come up with the correct answer. I was surprised to discover I’d absorbed more sports trivia through the years than I would have guessed as well, a category it wouldn’t have surprised me to have done poorly in.
I liked how the book was arranged with the question, then the answer following, with the spacing such that you would never see the correct answer until you had formulated your response and chose to page forward to compare. This immediate feedback is great. But short of keeping track on paper, a reader isn’t going to know their “score” (exactly how many answers did I get right?) This realization didn’t strike me until I was well into the questions. For those interested in how many questions they got right, using the Kindle notes capability to record something simple (maybe ‘Y’ or ‘N” for yes I got it right or no, I didn’t) would make it trivial to figure out how well they did after the fact. I only wish I’d thought of that in advance.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars