From "The Grapes of Wrath," to the Harry Potter series, teams from around the Ozarks tested their book knowledge in the Great Ozarks Read Trivia event on Saturday at the Meyer Library on the Missouri State University campus.
Susan Cummins, Amanda Walton, Megan Holly-Michalski, Jaimee McGuire and Sarah Bicknell represented the Webster County team and earned third place in the trivia event, which was organized by libraries in the region, in recognition of PBS Television’s new series, "The Great American Read."
The competition consisted of trivia questions focused on books from the Great American Read list of 100 books. Teams were given a sheet with one question from a different book. The questions were created by staff members from the MSU Libraries and the MSU Department of English. Randy Stewart, music director at MSU, moderated the event. According to Ted Quirk, corporate support representative and special events coordinator for the Ozarks Public Television, the Great American Read is a new project that PBS has done to encourage people to sit down and read.
"The interesting part about this project is that a television network, PBS, is encouraging people to turn off their TVs and read," said Quirk. "That is one of their objectives. It is about utilization of libraries as resources in the communities, but it is also about reading. Whether you buy the book or borrow it from the library, it is encouraging you to read whatever you want to read."
Quirk said the list of 100 books is rather unique in the fact that most of them are based off of books that were made into films, such as "The Hunger Games," "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" and "Ready Player One." He added that participants in the trivia events and PBS viewers have contacted the station about their interest in the Great American Read series.
"It has turned out to have a lot more interest than most of our shows have had in a long time," said Quirk. "What I have been hearing a lot is people say they voted on their favorite book on the list of 100 books and noticed some that were intriguing for them, so they got them. In fact, a lot of the libraries have told me that almost all of the books on the list have been unavailable because people have checked them out."
Cummins, Walton, Holly-Michalski and McGuire are part of their own book club, "The Restricted Section," and meet at least once a month. They found out about the Great American Read trivia event through an event post on Facebook. Their first competition was back in August during the Webster County Library’s Great American Read trivia event.
"We all just love reading, so we thought the concept of the Great American Read was interesting and something fun to do," said McGuire. "Plus, we love trivia. We meet for bar trivia all the time."
The group agreed that the event at MSU was much more competitive than the one at the Webster County Library.
"I think the competition was a bit more fierce," said Holly-Michalski. "The books on the trivia were some that I didn't know very well. They were definitely lower on the knowledge spectrum."
Of the 100 books on the list, each participant had their own opinion on their favorite book. For Holly-Michalski, it was "The Handmaids Tale." McGuire's was "The Joy Luck Club," while Cummins picked "Beloved" or "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Walton said it was hard to pick only one book because there are so many great books on the list. When asked what book they were surprised to see on the list, the answer was unanimous.
"Fifty Shades of Grey," said Cummins.
Readers can watch "The Great American Read" television series on Ozarks PBS, where it airs on Tuesday nights. They also can vote for their favorite book on the 100 books list by visiting www.optv.org/events/great-american-read-events/.