An illustration of a pile of books, with a red question mark on the top one.
An illustration of a pile of books, with a red question mark on the top one.

Come late December, we gather to celebrate the festive season: around tables and cosy fireplaces in tinsel-strewn pubs, around Christmas trees and dinner spreads, to spread holiday cheer and wish well to those we hold dear. And then, of course, when the conversation lulls, we turn to board games, Secret Santa and, of course, that great tradition: the quiz.

Here, we’ve assembled three full rounds of quiz questions (and answers) for the whole family, from young adults to veteran readers, spanning from modern bestsellers back to the well-established classics. Whether you’re seated by a half-eaten pudding or nuzzling a freshly poured pint, fiendishly bookish or merely book-inclined, there’s a question for every literature lover – and some to get the little ones involved, too.

 

Round 1: Classic books

1. Which came first: Nineteen Eighty-Four or Brave New World? (Bonus point: name the two authors behind these books)

2. Where was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights set?

3. How many books did Lewis Carroll write inspired by Alice Liddell?

4. Which is longer: Middlemarch, or War and Peace?

5. How many days did Phileas Fogg want to travel around the world in, according to Jules Verne?

6. What is the name of the penny-pinching boss at the heart of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?

7. Which Nella Larsen novel was adapted for Netflix in 2021?

8. What passage of time does Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway span?
a) A year
b) A month
c) A day

9. Who or what are lonely in the title of Sam Selvon’s 1956 Brixton-based novel?
a) Londoners
b) Lampposts
c) Librarians

10. Who is the youngest of the March sisters in Little Women?

 

Lousia May Alcott

Photo: Getty Images / Louisa May Alcott

Round 1 answers:

1. Brave New World, which was published in 1932; Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in 1949.
Bonus point: Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

2. Yorkshire

3. Two: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

4. War and Peace is, at 1440 pages, to Middlemarch’s 944 – both according to the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions.

5. 80.

6. Ebenezer Scrooge.

7. Passing.

8. c) A day.

9. a) Londoners. The novel’s full title is The Lonely Londoners.

10. Amy.

 

Round 2: Modern literature

1. Who followed up their best-selling novel debut in 2020 with The Man Who Died Twice the following year?

2. What do these three novels have in common? Great Circle, The Promise, The Fortune Men.

3. Which best-selling crime author wrote The Sentinel, the first with his brother, Andrew?

4. Who delivered the now-famous poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at President Joe Biden’s inauguration?

5. Fill in the blank: The Boy, [BLANK], The Fox and The Horse

6. For which novel did Elizabeth Strout win a Pulitzer Prize?
a) My Name is Lucy Barton
b) Olive Kitteridge

7. Which author followed up their novels The Girl on the Train and Into the Water in 2021 with their third book, A Slow Fire Burning?

8. Who is the author of thrillers The Night She Disappeared, The Family Upstairs and Invisible Girl?

9. Which beloved children’s author and poet released his “story of life, death, and the NHS”, titled Many Kinds of Love and about his experience of Covid-19, in 2021?

10. Though he passed away in late 2020, this famed author of espionage authors posthumously published Silverview in 2021.

 

A photo of Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman performs 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden's inauguration. Photo: Getty

Round 2 answers

1. Richard Osman

2. They were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021

3. Lee Child

4. Amanda Gorman

5. The Mole

6. Olive Kitteridge, in 2009

7. Paula Hawkins

8. Lisa Jewell

9. Michael Rosen

10. John le Carré

 

Round 3: Authors and characters

1. Which ‘kid’ is author Jeff Kinney famous for creating?

2. ‘It’s elementary’: What is the name of Sherlock Holmes’ famous sidekick?

3. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, what names do the handmaids take?

4. Name as many of the four Pevensie children from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as you can, for a point each.

5. Who was the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1993?

6. For whom does Charlotte weave her web, in Charlotte’s Web?

7. Who shared the Booker Prize in 2019?
Bonus points: Name their winning books.

8. Where does Philip Pullman’s character Lyra grow up?

9. In Anne of Green Gables, what is Anne’s surname?
a) Green
b) Sherman
c) Shirley
d) McCrae

10. Name the author:
a) He was born in Dublin in 1854, and died in Paris in 1900.
b) He wrote plays, stories, and poems, and was famous for all three.
c) He was associated with the aesthetic movement.
d) One of his first widely known stories was titled ‘The Happy Prince’.

A photo of Bernardine Evaristo, co-winner of the Booker Prize 2019

A photo of Bernardine Evaristo, co-winner of the Booker Prize 2019. Photo: Stuart Simpson / Penguin

Round 3 answers

1. ‘Wimpy kid’ Greg Heffley, from his series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

2. Dr Watson.

3. Those of the male commanders they serve, e.g. Ofglen.

4. Lucy, Edmund, Susan, Peter.

5. Toni Morrison.

6. Wilbur, the pig.

7. Margaret Atwood and Bernadine Evaristo.
Bonus point: The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other.

8. Oxford.

9. c) Shirley.

10. Oscar Wilde

 

Bonus round for junior readers

1. Which character from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is turned into an enormous blueberry?

2. Who famously came for tea?
a) The zebra
b) The tiger
c) The hippopotamus
d) The dog

3. Which famously festive dinosaur lives in the pages of Tom Fletcher’s beloved series?

4. Which insect was so ‘Very Hungry’ it ate through the pages of Eric Carle’s book?
a) Ant
b) Beetle
c) Bee
d) Caterpillar

5. Who created Peter Rabbit?

 

An image showing the evolution of Peter Rabbit

The evolution of Peter Rabbit.

Answers for junior readers

1. Violet Beauregarde

2. b) The tiger

3. The Christmasaurus

4. d) Caterpillar

5. Beatrix Potter

Topics
  • The Penguin Book Quiz

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    In Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, what is Charlie's surname?
    What is heavy-drinking Rachel Watson known as in the title of a 21st-century bestseller?

    And what do you get if you add the number of Bennet sisters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to the number of Karamazov brothers in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov?

    With four hundred questions covering books from literary classics to modern bestsellers, through iconic children's books and books you say that you've read but really you haven't, The Penguin Book Quiz is as appropriate for making you look well-read at a party as it is for a book-loving family to tuck into after Christmas dinner: it's as enjoyable to read as it is to play.

    Featuring the work of everyone from Antony Beevor to Zadie Smith, books from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Ulysses, and with movie, music, television, theatre and literary references abounding, this entertaining quiz tickles the fancy (and the brains) of light and heavy readers alike.

    Answers:
    - Norwegian Wood
    - Bucket
    - The Girl on the Train
    - Eight (five sisters, three brothers)

    'Unceasingly enormous fun' Alan Connor, author of The Joy of Quiz

    'I'll definitely be buying copies of this book as gifts' Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing

    'The greatest social lubricant since the invention of alcohol' John Preston, author of A Very English Scandal

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