Dave Clark - Quiz Pages

Quiz Books

If you want to improve your performance as a quizzer, or if you want to make your own quizzes, then you're going to need to become acquainted with quiz books. Yet there's so many to choose from.    Where do you start ? Here to help you is a run down of some of the quiz books that I've particularly liked and found helpful, and some of the other stuff out there which I've not found so good or useful.

Quiz Reference Books

You need a couple of good quiz reference books if you are going to have a good career as a setter and question master, and if you want to improve your performance in quizzes you need them too. The very best of them is this, the A – Z of Almost Everything,or as I like  to think of it, the quizzers' Bible, if that's not too sacrilegeous.

This book has been compiled by Trevor Montague. Trevor knows the world of quizzing inside out, and its fair to say that this book is his great labour of love. If its ever going to come up in a quiz, chances are you’ll find it here. For me it tends to be the ultimate authority when I’m verifying the answers to the questions in my quizzes. A measure of the huge esteem in which this book is held is the fact that it is currently on its 5th edition.

AS a Mastermind winner I am delighted to say that I am actually mentioned in the 5th edition, so if you are going to buy one of them then this is the one that you should get. To be honest, any of them would be a worthwhile buy.If you are either setting quizzes, or you want to become a better quizzer, yet you only want to buy one book, then this is it. Simply the best. 

                                                      The A - Z of Sport 

Trevor has compiled a couple of companion volumes to the A- Z of Almost Everything, and this one was the first. Compiled in 2004 this has been put together with the same loving care and attention to detail that characterises the main books. Sport is a genre you can't afford to ignore if you are to be a proper, all-round quizzer, and that's even more the case if you want to be taken seriously as a question master. As far as I know this was the first and only edition, which is a shame, but then once you have your copy you're pretty much set as regards sporting knowledge and reference.

The A-Z of Britain and Ireland  

This was compiled in 2009, you might look at the cover and the title and think - Geography. Its so much more than that. Everything you could posibly think of to do with Britain and Ireland is here. More even than the other books, this is also a thoroughly absorbing dip - in read. There's so much interesting stuff in it you won't have known before hand. Which in a way is just the tiniest drawback for using it as a reference work for quiz setting, since when I open it to find a question, or check a fact, I always get sidetracked . Well, if you have to have a flaw, that's the one to have. 

The A - Z of British and Irish Popular Culture

At the time of me writing, in June 2012, this latest work is available as an ebook, although I believe other formats will be forthcoming soon. Yes, popular culture gets the full, thoroughgoing Trevor Montague treatment. You might have the Penguin TV Companion. You might have the Guinness books of hit singles and albums. But do you have all of that, and films ? And comedy ? In this one, you've got all of that. Let's not beat about the bush - in any quiz you go to popular culture is going to play its part. You could look a lot further than this for a comprehensive all in one volume, and not find anything half as good.

The Pears Quiz Companion

Do you remember your first bike ? Your first car ? Your first love, even ? Of course you do. Well, this was my first ever quiz bible. Originally published by Pears in 1987, revised and updated ( slightly ) in 1991, and finally reissued in paperback by Penguin in 2000, this was my go - to book for the first 5 years or so of my career as a question master. This is made for the question setter, with literally thousands of facts presented in nice, ready to use chunks - all you have to do is to slot them into your questions. I get sentimental about this book, I admit it, and still use it from time to time for old times sake. I will admit that its not perfect, though. For one thing the obvious errors in it - such as the lovers in Aida getting burned alive, instead of buried alive as they really did - and these errors were never corrected in either of the later editions. But its a good old book, and if you get the chance to add a second hand copy to your quiz library its well worth a few quid.

The Guinness Book of AnswersThis was a book which got better and more useful with each edition to be published, until the final edition, in 1995, which was a very useful volume. This is the tenth edition. I don't really know why they stopped making them - too much effort for too little return, I suppose.

Its not written specifically with quizzers in mind - its not as comprehensive as The A to Z of Almost Everything, and its not as handy and easy to use as the Pears Quiz Companion, but its got a lot of good useful stuff in it, and will definitely help you to formulate quiz questions. Its also a handy reference for checking your answers. The top photo shows the 10th edition. Its ironic that it was the first one of these I owned, although it was the last to be published. I've acquired all of the other edtions since, either for pennies from boot sales, or for a couple of quid a throw from ebay. Its an interesting comparison to see just how much more  useful it became with each new edition. In the photo alongside are the other editions which I have picked up for pennies since. The last one is the Guinness Book of Knowledge, published in 1997. I don't know, many people look on it as the unacknowledged 11th edition, but I think its more like a throwback to the early editions. Sumptuously colourful, and full of glossy photots, its all a little too like the records book, and the Russell Ash top 10 books for me to warm to it as much as the 7th, 8th , 9th and 10th editions.

Whitaker's Almanac

Handle with care. Oh, I don't really mean that this is either bad or inaccurate. Its clearly neither. Its just that I always said that I wasn't going to be seduced into buying the Whitaker's books. You see the problem with them is that so much of the stuff in there is year specific. They're big books, and not cheap if you buy them every year. This one I got brand new for a pound in a Bookends shop, so I thought I could splash out just once. On the posiive side they are very nice and comprehensive works. In layout they are pretty reminiscent of the 10th and final edition of the Guinness answers book, and I'd make pretty much the same comments about their usefulness for quiz setting. But do bear in mind you have probably got a lot of the stuff in this from other sources you have. As a source of information about British life and society , this is as authoritative as it gets. Bear in mind that this is a yearbook, as opposed to an encyclopaedia

Pears Cyclopaedia

As the name suggests , the Cyclopaedia is in fact an Encyclopaedia, of one volume. I was surprised to learn that it actually first saw the light of day as long ago as 1897. Yes, if you are wondering, its Pears as in Pears soap. One Thomas Barrett, who had apparently married into the Pears family came up with the idea of the ‘shilling encyclopaedia’ as novel way of promoting soap. He was quite a smart cookie, so it seems – apparently it was his idea that cute kids sell a lot of soap, especially if you get that chap Millais to paint them.

As you’d expect with a one volume encyclopaedia, we’re not exactly talking the Britannica here. I’m not sure that I would quite describe the selection of information as eclectic, but there’s certainly always things you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Each successive edition now features an and a list of prominent people (past and present), a miniature encyclopaedia of general information, and a chronological list of events. However each edition also features its own selection of about a dozen specialist subjects, and these vary from edition to edition. A good idea that, since you’re not going to buy each successive edition if its always almost exactly the same.

The Top 10 of Everything

This Russell Ash book is a useful work which has a lot of positives, but also one major drawback. Like Whittakers , and the Guinness Book of World Records, whose readership I expect that this is aimed at, it is updated every year, and so if you try to keep up to date with it, you can find it starts to become very expensive. Economically it makes sense to buy one lets say every five years. As with the Records book you can't fault the amount of care and research that has gone into making it, but there's only so much use you are ever going to get out of it for compiling a quiz.

Dictionary of Classical Mythology

No, I didn't buy this one for quizzes. Its actually a Christmas present from my mother and step dad, and very welcome it was too. I loved greek mythology as a kid, in fact the greek myths were probably my favourite stories. So I love this. But its useful for some quizzes as well. Mind you , its extremely specialised. You'd never get your money's worth if you only bought it to get quiz questions from it. But it is a good example of how much material there is about there which can help you to formulate questions about pretty much any topic you can think of.

The Penguin TV Companion

Although this is a very good quiz resource, it's not conceived purely as a quiz resource. At the time of writing this, compiler Jeff Evans has put out four editions, the first in 2001. This is the third edition. A little tip here - if you want to get yourself a copy of a big reference book like this, check out whether there has been more than one edition. Then, insetad of going for the most recent edition, see if you can find a second hand copy of the previous edition on ebay or amazon used and new. There won't necessarily be that much difference between them, and it will be a hell of a lot cheaper. I paid pennies for this on ebay, and it's well worth it. It has thousands of alphabetically listed entires on TV shows - details, dates, cast lists etc. - , and people who have worked on them - actors, directors, scriptwriters, name it. The fact is that Entertainment is a hugely important pub quiz category, and if you want to win, you need to know your stuff. Likewise, if you have designs on becoming a regular setter, you'll go a long way before you find anything more useful for sparking off ideas for TV questions.

The Guinness Book of Hit Singles

Look, I'm not saying that you have to buy this. I'm certainly not saying that you should buy each new edition that comes out. What I am saying , though, is that one of these might be a useful resource, and if you keep your eyes open then there's every good chance you'll be able to pick a slightly older one up for a price that won't break the bank. Like it or not, pop music is a staple of quiz masters, especially lowest common denominator quiz masters. If you make your own quizzes, then your audience will expect some questions in this genre. So it's worth having one in your library, if the price is right.

The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens

 

I wasn’t looking for this when I found it. It was actually a charity shop special, but what a terrific book. I think of History as one of my best subjects, and quiz wise it pretty much is, and so I didn’t buy it out of any perceived need. However I have to say that if you don’t really know your Kings and Queens, then you are going to lose points in quizzes in the long run. This taught me things that I didn’t know – it’s far more detailed than you need, but it’s just a terrifically well researched and put together book. Good stuff.  

There is a wealth of reference material out there which you could use for quizzes -those I've already mentioned, and then other things like the Guinness Book of Records etc. There's a long list, and many of these things are updated annually. Which means they do fall out of date pretty quickly. I would always advise anyone startng out to by all means use these, but if you start buying them all you'll soon find it developing into a very expensive hobby. So instead, lets move on to some of my favourite quiz question and answer books.

Magnus Magnusson's Quiz Book

Magnus Magnusson's Family Quiz Book

When I first bought the family quiz book I was initially worried that this might have been a bog standard quiz book, cashing in on Magnus' great popularity and respect amongst the quiz community. How wrong I was. Both books have been put together by Magnus and his writing partner with care and love. For each letter of the alphabet you get a set of specialist questions, and a set of general knowledge questions. In the very best tradition each set starts off fairly simple, and the level of difficulty is racked up as the round progresses. There are some absolute snorters here. The answers often contain good explanations of the questions as well. Personally I prefer the family quiz book to the other, but they're both terrific.

Beadle's Miscellany 

The late Jeremy Beadle regularly composed a quiz for Saturday's Independent newspaper. This book is a collection of his favourite columns . They are brilliant examples of just what a good question master can do to make a consistent and enjoyable whole with a concoction of disparate material.

Like all the very best books in the genre, Jeremy is generous in his explanation of the answers. Like both Magnus Magnusson books, you'd read this for its own self, not just to get questions out of it, and you'd end up kearning a lot. This is a great quiz book, and a fitting tribute to the man himself.

Bamber Gascoigne's Challenging Quiz Book

Which other question master was ever as respected and approved as Magnus Magnusson ? Who else ? Bamber Gascoigne, and this is his own attempt to be ranked alongside the two Magnus books. Very good it is too. Pretty much everything I liked about the Magnusson and Beadle books can also be said about this one. I mean, its not perfect. For such a thick book I would have hoped for a few more questions per page. Although the answer pages do give some good explanations of the questions as well, they also tell you what the theme of each round was, whereas the question pages don't. Still very good, though.

The Prince of Wales ( Highgate) Quiz Book

This is a truly great quiz book. Marcus Berkmann is the "Brain Men" man, and he does actually write about the Prince of Wales quiz in that volume. Here he has collected 33 quizzes by the regular compilers of the aforementioned quiz, each of them about 50 questions long. These quizzes feel much more like a good set of pub quiz questions than you get in almost any other quiz book. That's probably because they have all been used in the Prince of wales Quiz at one time or another. This isn't rocket science. A terrific quiz book ,whether you want to use it to set quizzes, or just to play on your own.

The Almost Impossible Quiz Book

I was given this book by my dear friend John, and I absolutely love it. It was compiled by Irene Thomas, former Brain of Britain, and the doyenne of the Round Britain Quiz. Its compiled in the format of the Round Britain quiz, so you have to do a lot of work to get the answer - for example this one - When was Gruoch's husband seemingly menaced by trees ? - You have to KNOW that Gruoch was the real life Lady Macbeth in order to get it. Mind you, they are not all as easy as that ! This is not for the beginner, and its not for using for your local pub quiz. This one is for enjoyment, lots of it. Published in 1982, I would have paid good money for it.

On the Tip Of My Tongue - David Gentle

This is a bit of a quirky and very original one, but none the worse for that. David Gentle asks you a bit of anything and everything. Largely these are list based, but not exclusively. At times this is infuriating, but its never less than entertaining, and it asks you things you just wouldn't be asked in any other quizbook. What sort of thing ? Anything and everything, to be honest with you.

I do occasionally use this one when I'm setting quizzes, but more often than not its just a good browsing quiz book to enjoy working your way through. It passes the browsing test , that is , if you dip into it for a question you'll end up spending longer with it than you originally planned. Good thing too.

Quiz - 240 Questions + 10 pages de Bonus

This one I'm not suggesting is particularly brilliant, or that you should buy it. But it's here because I am very fond of this little book , more for the curcumstances by which it came into my possession. In 2011 I was part of a school trip to Paris and Parc Asterix. We stopped at a garage for an unscheduled pee stop, and the Head of french saw this in the shop, and bought it for me. And actually, it's not bad ! My reading of french is a lot better than my spoken french, ans so I can understand this pretty well. 236 multiple choice questions and answers are put into 98 pages. Obviously a lot of stuff is very french affairs and France oriented, but that's what you'd expect. Delighted to have it in the collection as my first foreign language quiz book.

Interesting stuff, though not quite quizbooks

Theres a few books I own which , while not as comprehensive or useful as the A-Z or the Quiz Companion, are still useful when setting quizzes. Here's a few of them.

Schott's, and Similar Stuff

Schott's Miscellany

Ben Schott is a very smart guy.You just have to respect anyone who single handedly creates a whole new genre of quiz-related books. What do you do thats at all new or original with facts and figures ? Well, the original Miscellany's answer was to lump them together, fill your pages full of them, and don't leave out the wierd and wonderful. Just shove it all down. What a good and lucrative answer it has proven to be. This is a fascinating little book, which actually became something of a phenomenon when it first appeared in 2002. Its been followed by sequels, the gaming one, and the annual almanacs, like the 2006 and 2008 versions in the photograph. There's a lot of stuff in here you wouldn't use, but a lot you could too.

Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany

As you'll see there have been  many books which have jumped on the Schott's bandwagon, and Ben Schott himself has produced a few spin - offs of his own from the original miscellany. I'm delighted to say that his books are all quality items too. In 2003, a year after the original, he produced this, the Food and Drink Miscellany. This being traditionally one of my weakest quiz subjects it has proven surprisingly useful. But lets not kid ourselves. These books are just a pleasure to browse through anyway. What with free delivery this one, and the 2009 Miscellany cost me a shade over £3 all together  from Amazon - you honestly will not find any better value anywhere.

Schott's Sporting, Gaming and Idling Miscellany

This was Ben Schott's second spin off from his phenomenally successful Originally Miscellany, and very good it is too. It basically does exactly what it says on the front cover - if its anything to do with sport, gaming, or indeed idling, there's a good chance that its in here, and what's more, a lot of it is the kind of stuff that you won't find anywhere else. This is not ever going to be your finest quiz resource, but be fair, in which other volume would you get a list of types of marbles, side by side with suggestive car stickers ? What do I care, 50p at a boot sale - you can't go wrong.

Schott's Quintessential Miscellany

On a purely aesthetic note, I was sorry to see them abandon the white coloured dust jackets of the other three miscellanies. I haven't done much more than dip into the book, but I've done enough to be able to make a few observations. Firstly , the quintessentially/quintessence nonsense is just that - nonsense.Don't let it distract you from the fact that this is basically the original miscellany take 2 - some new lists, some of which have appeared in different publications before. Taken on that level it's perfectly acceptable, although one somehow doubts that it will set the world alight in the way that the original miscellany did.

Schott's Almanacs

Lets be honest, there's been quite a few books which have jumped on Ben Schott's bandwagon since, so who can blame him for widening his own franchise ? The annual almanacs tend to be a little bigger, and quite a lot thicker than than the original miscellany. Cards on the table, the only one I paid full whack for was the 2011 edition. The first one was a 50p buy from a charity shop, and the second 75p from a boot sale. 2007 was bought from a Bookends, and the 2009 and 2010 were only a penny each, plus p and p from Amazon. I wouldn't buy them new each year for the same reason I wouldn't buy each new edition of Whittaker's etc. All of the information is, naturally, year specific. Still, there's quite a lot of stuff you can still use year in, year out. Schott's and others of the genre are not a source for your bread and butter questions, but a few good 'uns from this kind of book always add a little extra flavour.As far as I know the 2011 book was the last of these to see the light of day - a shame, but then not totally unexpected either.

Sullivan's Music Trivia

Or, to put it another way, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is a thoroughgoing Schott's clone, except that it only concentrates on music. which I have to say that it does do rather well. It has the same loveable jumble and mishmash of unrelated facts, and sets of information that I love about the Schott's books.

Only it blots its copy book by proclaiming itself The Greatest Music Trivia Book Ever on the cover- unforgiveable hyperbole, and probably an utter, barefaced lie. 

Fotheringham's Sporting Trivia

This one is a stablemate of Sullivan's Music trivia, so you know its yet another Schott's clone. Again, it makes the unsustainable claim on its cover that its the greatest sporting trivia book ever, which annoys me very much.

Oh well, it is actually a great little book, and if you're going to try your hand at a Schott's type book, then at least do it well, and this one, like the Music trivia book, does just that. There is a bit of a crossover with the Schott's Gaming and Idling, so if you only buy one I'd probably plump for the Schott's. Better still, though, get both.

Inverne’s Stage and Screen Trivia 

This is a companion volume to Fotheringham’s Sporting Trivia , and Sullivan’s Music Trivia, and indeed all three of them have been issued in the past as one boxed set. This particular set are probably the most thoroughgoing of the Schott’s imitators, and I do like them. Schott's pretty much created the genre, so you have to respect them for that, but there really isn't that much to choose between the two series in terms of quality. The Stage and Screen book is rather thicker than the other two, and it is just as full of interesting stuff and nonsense as all the very best books of this genre. As we all know, Entertainment is a huge quiz genre, and so you could do a lot worse than adding this book to your library. As you can see from the picture, although they are actually nothing to do with the Schotts books as far as I know, they do make a very nice companion set. Any similarity between them is, I'm sure, purely coincidental.

The Companion Think Book series

Look, I don't really mind if a set of books sets out to use the Schott's format without any huge attempt at originality. All I ask is that they do it honestly, and as far as possible accurately. This is one of quite a large series of 14 books which were brought out within a year or two of the original Schott's. You can see that it very much follows the same format - same size - hardbacked - similar kind of dust jacket - different typeface but similar layout,and some charming line drawing illustrations, just the sort of thing that you get in the Schott books. Like many of the books in this section they are of strictly specialist interest as regards quizzes, but I do like this genre very much, and so when I see one of these and the price is right, I tend to buy it. I have 5 currently. In 2004 each of these would have set you back £9.99, but today these books can be picked up for pennies on Amazon Used and New, although you do have to factor in the cost of postage and packaging on top of that as well. They're worth that. I would say that you do have to take some of the things they say with a pinch or two of salt, and I do think that they take the brief of going into the wierd and esoteric a little too far. They're the kind of book where you'll find little odd factlets that would make good - well I never ! - type questions for your quiz, but I would seriously check the accuracy of the answers, and think twice before including the question if you can't verify the answer from another source. Decent stuff though.

The London Companion : -As an example of the genre its fine, and bearing in mind that I was born, grew up and went to University in London you can see that this is of special interest to me anyway.

The Moviegoer's Companion

The Gardener's Companion : -Well, some of these books are of more use than others. Take this one, for instance. All I know about gardening are a few alternative names of common garden flowers, and that's really about it. Not that I need to know much more than this about gardening for the type of quizzes I normally play in. Still, its always nice to have some resources to fall back on for your weakest areas.

The Walker's Companion

The Golfer's Companion

Essential Militaria

Yes, another specialised work that follows the very successful Schott's formula.  In this case its everything even so much as vaguely connected with wars, battles, fighting, you get the drift. Did you know, for example, that a war was once fought over French pastries ? No ? Well, that one can be found on the very first page. My wife found this one, and sensibly kept it back for a much appreciated birthday present. I'll be honest, I haven't yet found a Schott's imitator which hasn't had something of interest within it if you take the time and trouble to look through it. An interesting read, and a useable question source.

Sports Miscellanies, Companions, Facts and Trivia

 

There's still a lot of this sort of thing out there, and I have to admit that they do vary in quality.

John White – Miscellanies

Look, I obviously rather like these because I’ve got quite a few of them – to date  The England Football Facts and Trivia – The Formula One Miscellany – The Olympics Miscellany – The Boxing Miscellany – The Six Nations Rugby Miscellany. Well, they all follow the tried and trusted Schott’s format, and who can blame John white for doing that? When the England book first came up it was very much flavor of the month with quiz setters for some time, although it went out of fashion as everything does.

 

Now, as I say, I do have a number of these, and I do enjoy this sort of thing, only . . . well, I feel a bit of a heel for saying this, but these are not the most accurate thing on the menu. I can’t say that I noticed much amiss with the football one, but the Olympics, Boxing and Six Nations books all have glaring errors in them. Whether it’s John White’s mistakes, or whether it’s a case of not being seen at the proof reading stage I don’t know, but believe me, I wasn’t looking for mistakes in these, but couldn’t avoid the. Dates – years really need to be double checked in each of these. Yes, many of them are right, but nothing like all of them. To give you an example, in the Six Nations book, there is a section talking about ‘England’s Grand Slam season of 2001’. Well, don’t get me wrong, I’d have been delighted if England had won the Grand Slam that season, but famously they didn’t! The game against Ireland was postponed, and in the Autumn Ireland beat England. It’s not just an isolated incident either. I reckon that I know my stuff about the Olympics, Boxing, 6 Nations Rugby, and Formula One, and I’ve found errors in each without trying.

 

It’s a shame, because I find this sort of book very interesting and enjoyable. But oh, if only they weren’t quite so slipshod, or should I say, slipschott.

England Football Facts & Trivia

This one was much in demand when it first  came out in 2006, and for a few months after you could often find local question masters culling facts from its pages to present as tricky questions to tease a pub quiz audience. In format its thoroughly Schottified, and there's nothing wrong with that - its very appealing, and people familiar with Schotts and the like would know exactly what to expect when they opened its pages. Cards on the table, I love this sort of thing, but I'm not entirely sure that I could call it an absolute necessity for your quiz library in the way that the original Schott's Miscellany probably still is.

England Rugby Facts and Trivia

This one was never going to bring me many answers to quiz questions, or ideas for my own questions. Some of that has to do with the fact that I live in South Wales, where English rugby never has been and never will be flavour of the month. Partly it's because, like it or not, rugby will never be the mainstay of sports quiz questions that football is. But it's still a nice enough and interesting enough thing in its own right.

The Formula One Miscellany

Like the football one, this was made by John White, with the help of a certain chap by the name of Sir Stirling Moss. I'll be honest, if you're not really that interested in motor racing, then its not for you, even if you do really like books which follow the successful Schott's formula, as this one does. If you like this sort of thing, then its well worth a read. I like formula one, so enjoyed this very much. However be warned, this isn't ever going to bring you many answers, or give you a lot of questions you'd actually ask.

The Olympic Miscellany

A bit of an impulse buy really. I saw it for a quid or two in a Bookends, and couldn't resist it. Like the Motson World Cup book, I didn't feel that there was a lot in this that I didn't already know. The Olympic Games was my first ever subject in Mastermind, and so I've read much better and much more detailed books than this, but then it's not meant to be an all encompassing history of the games. Pleasant and inoffensive.

The Boxing Miscellany

The superstar of choice to introduce this one is Barry McGuigan, one of my favourite boxers from the 1980s. There wasn't a lot in this I didn't know - well, I have written my own boxing quiz book after all, but please, it has far too many errors for my liking.

Motson's National Obsession

Like the England Trivia book, when this one first came out in 2004 it was a bit of a flavour of the month book with a lot of question masters, and so lots of us went scurrying out to buy it. There’s nothing wrong with it, either. It follows the tried and trusted Miscellany formula popularised by the Original Schott’s Miscellany, and it is full of interesting stuff. I’ll be honest, most of the stuff that is readily applicable to quiz questions you’ve probably already been asked by now, but its one of those resources that is worth keeping , and coming back to a year or two down the line. I enjoyed reading this one, possibly even more than the little England trivia book too.

Motson's World Cup Extravaganza

I'll be honest , I didn't like this one quite so much as the other Motson book. There's not a lot in this which has been exhumed for use by quiz masters, and I suppose that it follows the law of diminshing returns in that score. By and large you can't expect question masters to concentrate just on the world cup. As a thing on intrinsic interest, well, part of the problem was that I've already read Brian Glanville's superb History of the World Cup, and so there really isn't that much that I didn't already know here, or wanted to know if I didn't.

Bill Beaumont's Up and Under

As I am sure that you can tell from the front cover, this is from the same stable as Motty's book. Being that rugby union is my spectator sport of choice, you'd think that I'd like this one more than Motty's book. I thought I would too, but I'm afraid not. There's a lot of stuff in there just to, how should I say it, make up the numbers. When you read Motty's book you find yourself coming up against things which you know have inspired quiz questions, and I'm afraid that I didn't find that with this one. Its OK, but not much better than that.

A Miscellany of Britain

I'd guess that this is called "A Miscellany" just in case you'd be in any danger of not recognising it for what it is, namely, another volume jumping on Schott's bandwagon. That's the downside. The up side is that Tom O'Meara has produced a nice little volume that is a good and interesting work here. When you read it you start to realise that he's not backwards at coming forwards with his own opinion, and this makes for something of a livelier read than some of the other clones. However be warned. Just on one cursory read through I noticed several factual errors - for example saying that the Yeoman of the Guard were created in 1485 as a personal bodyguard for King Henry VIII. Henry VIII wasn't even a twinkle in his father's eye in 1485. Fun read, but use with care.

Tic-Tac, Teddy Bears & Teardrop Tattoos

Like A Miscellany of Britain, this was another BookEnds/The Works special. I often check in there because lots of these pseudo Schotts do eventually end up being flogged for peanuts in these places. This really is a bit of an oddity. Its in the usual Schotts - inspired format, and its dedicated to revealing the truth behind a lot of those everyday signs we take for granted. Well, that's what author Justin Scroggie would have you believe. Although always interesting, I would worry about anyone who enounters people with teardrop  tattoos every day. It means you have killed another inmate in prison, apparently.This is my main gripe, that it is so concerned with the seamier side of life. Still, its never less than interesting. I like the way Mr. Scroggie debunks some urban myths too, even if he does put the same piece of information in several different places on more than one occasion.

The Pedant's Revolt (2005)

It actually ruined my day when I learned that this one existed. Now, I wouldn't want you to think that this means its no good. Its certainly not quite as good as the first Q.I. Book of General Ignorance, which is the closest thing I can think of, but its certainly entertaining and accurate enough. But its just that I wanted to write something like this. I had always planned to write a book called "The Question Master Is Always Right" naming and shaming those questions which are asked in quizzes, and the wrong answer is nearly always given by the question master. No point now, since a lot of them are here. Basically this tells you all those little factoids and gems of information that people hold to be self evident, which are actually wrong. If you like the Q.I, books, you'll like this too. 20p from a car boot sale.

Mr. Hartston's Most Excellent Encyclopaedia of Useless Information

The Mr. Hartston of the rather unwieldy title is none other than William Hartston, chess correspondent for a national newspaper unless I'm very much mistaken. This is a man I have a certain amount of respect for. This is a very interesting book - and I would have a lot more respect for it if it wasn't so obviously riding on the back of the Schott's bandwagon. Its well put together, and there are interesting tidbits of trivia on every page . Granted you won't be using a huge amount of this in any one quiz, but like the Schott's and their clones, its a great source of facts you can use as the raw material for the -well I never - questions that give your quiz just a little more individual flavour. I'd never have paid a tenner for it, but when offered it as a gift it would have been churlish to refuse.

I Never Knew That About Wales

Christopher Winn, who wrote this has become a virtual one man cottage industry. Britain, England , Scotland, Ireland, Yorkshire, London, The River Thames, The Lake District - all of them have received or are about to receive the treatment.To be honest,I bought the Wales one because , living in Wales I like to put something about my adopted country into my quizzes, and to be fair this usually delivers, albeit that I already did know quite a bit of the supposely unknown information in this book. Warning - the research for this book leaves a lot to be desired - there are some wrong'uns here.

I Never Knew That About Britain Quiz Book

As they say, what you lose on the swings . . . Cards ont he table, I really like this book. Unlike the previous one, this isn't a guidebook full of useful and interesting facts - some of which are even accurate. Not that there's anything all that wrong with that. No. This is a fully fledged quiz book, chock full of questions about the UK. If you can't get some questions out of this for your quizzes, then either you're doing something wrong, or you're making a very specialist quiz. If you're a question master you'll find this useful. If you're just a quizzer - ironic use of the word 'just' there - then you'll enjoy playing it. Which is a win win situation as far as I'm concerned.

Homework for Grow-ups , Advanced Homework for Grown-Ups , The O Level Book, The Eleven Plus Book

Like the Schott's book, the Advanced Homework book came to me as a Christmas Present, and like the Schott's book its an interesting twist on what has gone before. You see, rather giving you a) bare facts, or b) questions and answers, this book gives you both. It takes all of those things which once upon a time we might reasonably have been expected to learn in school, tells you all about them, and then gives you a test on it at the end of the section. Clever idea, isn't it, and certainly popular enough that this one is a sequel.

The original book, Homework for Grown-Ups is something of a rarity for me, in that its a book for which I paid full price. Yes, I know, in a moment of weakness I allowed myself to be seduced by the lure of Waterstones. Well, I had just won a £100 first prize in a quiz the night before, so I felt I deserved a treat.

The original book has fewer subjects than the Advanced book, but more pages on each. I do think that the Advanced book does actually do what it says on the tin, in that its test papers are probably a little more difficult than the first book.Still these are quality, and if you're of a certain age will certainly take you down memory lane.

And so to The O Level Book. Recommended Retail Price £9.99. I saw it in The Works, and paid, I think, £3 for it, and its worth that, at least. I think its rather obviously jumping on the bandwagon of the Homework for Grown Ups books, and where it loses out on these is that its just test papers. Each subject in the Homework book gives you tons of information about the subjects on which you are tested. The questions are pretty much all taken from papers set in the 1950s, by the AQA.

There are 7 subjects - as you might have expected, English Language, Science, Maths, Geog and History, although also Music and Household Cookery too.

If I'm honest I think that its application to either learning for or compiling quizzes is extremely limited, but who cares ? To those of us passionately interested in knowledge its a fascinating insight into the things that were considered worth knowing back in those days. 

The Book of Where ?

Kind of does what it says on the tin, or rather the dust jacket, this one. Arranged in handy alphabetical order ( hooray ! ) you get an index of terms conected with places, real and imaginary, and then a list of countries, cities, well, you get the drift. Like it or not Geography is a mainstay of many quizzes, and while you certainly don't need to know everything in this to win quizzes, its not without interest, and it is a useful resource for writing questions, and verifying your answers. Which is kind of why I bought it in the first place. Its not an essential book for you, any more than the Schotts and others, but its a nice thing, and it earns its keep often enough when I'm setting quizzes.

How British Are You ? - Questions from the UK Citizenship Test

I thought I was being smart buying this book. I thought that when they introduced the UK citizenship test question masters the length and breadth of the land would be onto this one, and it would be very much flavour of the month for a while. Which just goes to show how little I know, doesn't it. I'm the only quiz master who's actually acknowledged using it as a source in any of the quizzes I've played in. Not that all of it lends itself to quiz questions - it doesn't. Still, it's worth a look and does make for an interesting one off round, if you can't think of anything better.

So You Want to Set Your Own Quiz ?

No problem. My best advice is to check out the page dedicated to setting your own quiz on this very website. Still, if that's not enough - and if not, why not ? - but if that's really not enough, then here's a couple of books you might want to take a glance at : -

How to Run A Quiz

If you've been around in quizzing for a while you'll recognise this as one of a decent set of quiz books from the mid 90s published by RightWay. Dave Cornish, who wrote it, has been around for quite a while, and he's a good, safe pair of hands. I don't agree with everything he says in this, but basically its full of good, common sense advice, and you'll avoid many of the pitfalls of setting a quiz if you follow his advice when you first start out. A word of warning, though. The advice is only the first part of the book. The majority is taken up with sets of questions. Good sets of questions, I might add, but nonetheless, most of this is just pure quiz book.

Quiz Setting Made Easy

A lot of what you can say about Dave Cornish's book, you can say about this one. Its far more amusing, certainly, and all the advice John Dawson gives is pretty much spot on. This guy has obviously had the same experiences setting quizzes as we all have, and what he says hits the mark. However, of over 190 pages, less than 50 are actually about setting quizzes. The rest is all questions, and personally I don't find them as good as the ones in Dave Cornish's book , being a bit straightforward and containing more than a fair share of old chestnuts- but then that's just my opinion.

How to Win Quizzes

This is another book from Dave Cornish. Its not actually about setting your own quizzes, but offers advice on ways you can short circuit you learning process, and get to the stage where you are regularly a force to be reckoned with in any quiz. As in his Quiz Setter's Book, Dave gives you a lot of good, common sense advice on what to learn, and how to learn it. There's a section with the 100 most commonly asked questions. There are, as you'd expect, a lot of questions in the book too. Its a nice book, but I must state that there is still no substitute for good, old fashioned hard work. This book is where you start, its not the whole journey.

How To Win Any Quiz (1995)

I'm not sure that this book really belongs with the others inthis section, but then the title does rather demand that it comes after the previous one. The reason why I say is that it shouldn't go in here is that it really belongs with books such as the Pears Quiz Companion, the Guinness Book of Answers etc. , since what this is really turns out to be a compendium of the sort of things you need to know if you are going to win pub quizzes on a regular basis. Its rather good too - there's lots of juicy stuff in here, and things you don't find in some of the other books out there. But the title is a little bit of a misnomer. Dave's book at least does give you some pages of good, sound advice. to set you well on your way. This gives 2 and a bit pages, and then you're on your own. But its not a bad book at all, and if you see one going for a few pennies as I did  then it will be a buy that you won't regret.

Honest all-purpose quiz books

You'll be looking for a few decent go - to quiz books to help you fill up your rounds when you do a quiz. These next few books are among the good old stagers which I can fall back on to make a quiz. They're not the sort of book that I'd read for pleasure like the books I discussed earlier, but they're pretty reliable, and they won't let you down when you need some questions.

Whitaker’s Almanac Quiz Book (2004)

This has 500 pages of questions. That sounds fantastic – it’s not quite so good as it sounds when you realise that the questions are all multiple choice. Still, there are 11 specific categories, as well as a general knowledge category as well. The standard of these questions is fine. I wouldn’t base a whole quiz on questions from this book for the same reason that I wouldn’t base a whole quiz on any one source, but this is always worth looking at for a good few.

There was another Whitaker’s Almanac Quiz Book released in about 2008 with a black cover, and by a different compiler. I don’t have a copy as yet, so I can’t comment on how well it compares with this one.

The Hutchinson Encyclopaedia Family Quiz Book 2 (1994)

There were a whole series of these published in the mid 90s, and you can still get hold of second hand copies. There were certainly 4 books published. When you open them they may strike you as a little bit no-frills. Questions are categorised in subjects, and  sections are graded easy, medium and hard. You can forget about the easy , they’re too easy for your local quiz. As for the rest, though, they’re not bad, and will help you put a quiz together. Maybe a little generic, but then if you’re only using it to help you put a quiz together you haven’t anything to worry about.

Quiz Master – (2006)

This has actually been one of the best selling quiz books for the last few years. You certainly get a lot for your money – 5,000 questions is the proud boast on the front cover. Well, yes, there’s a lot there, but a lot of it is relatively easy too. As with many out of the Collins stable it’s a bit of a case of ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’. In its favour this is a pretty useful source of everyday , bread and butter questions, and you’re always going to need these for your quizzes. Questions are categorised, so you can cheery pick. Look, it’s not the greatest quiz book ever written, but it will help you put some quizzes together.

Perfect Pub Quiz (2007) 

As I said, books which call themselves "The Best " or "The Ultimate" are lying, and so is this in calling itself perfect. Perfect it most definitely is not. For a relatively new book there's hardly anything very fresh on the menu here. Pick up any one of the hundred regular quizzes here and there won't be a huge number you can't answer. To be fair, a bit of effort has been put in to splitting questions between pot luck and specialised rounds.You do get a huge number of questions squeezed in, and as with the Question Master book, if you're starting out as quizzer or question master, then there are worse books to start with. You can cull enough questions from here, that you could make a whole quiz from it. Take my advice, vary it up with other sources too.

No - don't laugh. I'm not taking the mickey. If you're setting a quiz for an average pub quiz crowd then you can do a lot worse than using an old kid's book from the 60s or 70s. The one on the right is the junior puffin quiz book. That's right - the junior one - so even easier than the usual one. But it's full of easier questions, and you are going to need some easy questions if people are going to enjoy your quiz. I'm very sorry, but your quiz needs a good three or four gimmes each round to have a good chance of being a success. You'll see more of this sort of thing in the TV tie ins section, and also the veteran and vintage section.

Pot-Pourri

OK, those are the ones that I've found useful or enjoyable. However there's an awful lot of stuff out there that is mediocre, or rubbish, and I've bought a lot of them in my time. So here's just a selection of some of the standard quiz books you can get, and my views on them, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

You'll probably recognise this next set in the photo alongside. There are other ones not in the photo, for football, general knowledge, well, you get the drift. They were very popular at one time, during the late 90s, despite being, well, frankly pretty average. Why was that ? Well, if you look at the one on the top left, you'll see why. They were dirt cheap.To be honest, these are a little bit thrown together, but if I'm fair they're certainly no worse than a lot of the stuff that's out there. 15 questions per page, and lots of them. For £1.99 a throw in about 1999 you really can't complain. However they lack the wow factor. I should complain. Most of these I own are birthday/Christmas presents - certainly better than socks.

These I will admit to buying myself. Why ? Well, they're not that bad. But more than that, quite a few of the books in my collection are there because I knew that a question master was using large numbers of questions from them for his quiz. There, my shameful secret is out. These books have three sections - easy, medium and hard, each of which has an equal share of themed and general quizzes. Easy questions , and a lot of the medium questions are too easy for your pub quiz. The hard ones aren't bad at all , though. I am always wary of anything which calls itself "the best ", "the ultimate" or some such variation. I don't know what it is about quiz books which leads the compilers to indulge in such hyperbole, but they all do it, and its really annoying, since books which make this claim are clearly lying. Contemporary with the Best Pub Quiz series are these, the Ultimate Pub Quiz series in the second photo. Hardly surprising since they are published by the same people, and despite being in a larger format are set out identically . Same criticisms apply.

I don't really know what happened to Right Way Quiz books. In the mid 90s they published a range of titles. Retailing at about £4 these weren't a bad little series. They're nothing like as big as the Carlton books above, but they deliver a fair amount for your money - Ready made Quizzes, for example gives you 25 quizzes of 100 questions each. Yes, many of the questions are the sort you'll get in every quiz book, and be thoroughly sick of, but not all of them, and its worth working your way through. The best analogy I can think of is that they are similar in scope and level to the three Channel 4 15 to 1 Quiz books.

This next set was a clever idea, which identified a niche in the market. I've no idea how well they sold, but you still see these coming up on ebay from time to time. These books give you 14 quizzes, which are full of matched A and B pairs, specifically designed for a pub quiz league. Its a nice idea, and for the most part the pairs are well chosen, and believe me that's no easy thing to accomplish. The books are attributed to The Quiz Masters of Great Britain. I wonder who they were. At £3.50 a pop 20  years ago they weren't cheap, but then you get what you pay for.

Over the last few years Collins have made a big attempt to cash in on the Pub Quiz Book market, with the result of them releasing a range of titles. The best of the lot of them is probably Quiz Master. There's a lot of general and themed questions in the book - 5000 is the number claimed on the cover. Inevitably there's a lot of dross, but there's also some interesting questions in this. If you want to buy a modern quiz book to use, and can only afford one, then you could do worse. The 2 Pub Quiz books are not that bad either, although they're quite different. The first book categorises every question in mixed rounds, while the 2nd book gives you themed rounds. Of their type they really aren't that bad, and will help you put a quiz together. As for the Quiz Night book, if I'm being fair its probably not actually terrible, just extremely ordinary and boring. I don't like multiple choice quiz books, and this is a very ordinary example of the genre. However , this pales into insignificance alongside the one with the green lettering, which is awful. Is there anyone who is likely to buy this book who DOESN'T know that Gravelly Hill Interchange is the proper name of Spaghetti Junction, for example ? Oh well, I got them as a job lot from a charity shop, so I can't really complain.

 Here's another four miscellaneous books I bought recently. The inspiration for the Is That Your Final Answer book is fairly obvious. Charity shop special - nothing to write home about, but nothing too offensive either. Mulitple choice, but you can't have everything. The Wise Owl book is primarily aimed at team quizzes, and as such it's a bit of a rarity. There haven't been many books like this published - other than the quiz masters of Great Briatin series, anyway, so it's worth the couple of quid I paid for it. As for the Bird Brain of Britain, this is really specialist. I have no doubt that you would learn a lot by inwardly digesting the contents of it, but I'm afraid that for a layman like myself it's just too specialist for me to make much headway with it. I thought that I might do a bit better with the Rail Entusiasts book, being an old train spotter, but this really is for the purists.

While we're talking about quite current quiz books there's this one from Dean Wilkinson. Yes, its a specialist quiz book, and the subject matter, kids' TV won't be for everyone. Yet for what it is this is a pretty good little book.

Dean Wilkinson loves his subject, so you don't just get the bare questions and answers - there's explanations and Did You Know's as well. Admittedly there seems to be something of a bias towards those of us who were brought up in the 70s, but there's stuff here from all the decades of kids TV. All of which makes this an enjoyable and nostalgic read , as well as a dip in resource for one or maybe two questions in a quiz.

I like old quiz books. Part of it is a fascination with how quiz culture has changed over the years, seeing the kind of questions which would be asked in the past , which you just wouldn't hear being asked today. Part of it, though, is that an old quiz book, if you're lucky , can be a source of questions you can use, which you'd never have asked otherwise. I like the three in the pictures. They have no pretensions to being anything other than they are. All British Quiz book, and Standard Quiz Book. You can see it in the titles - no hyperbole, just a good, honest set of questions. Ooh, I'm going all nostalgic.

I will admit that its not just the fact that I tend to buy these paperback quizbooks from yesteryear whenever I see them which means that I have such a respectably large connection. I was delighted to be gifted a large number by my dear friend John when he decided to cull his connection. Lord knows I did try to persuade him against such drastic action.

I could take you through each of them individually, but that would be rather tedious for all of us. So just a couple of observations. Mostly with these books they are decent, honest quiz books. Yes, I admit it, things do go out of dte, so you do need to be aware of this before you start lifting questions from them for your quizzes, but a little care and these can be worth their weight for you.

This set of books is very much a stablemate of The Penguin Giant Mastermind ( grrr ! ) and Ultimate Trivia quizbooks, which  are discussed a little further down the page. I mean, I wouldn't go out of my way to order an old book off ebay, for example, but when I see one in a bootsale , or jumble sale for 50p, for the ake of argument, I rarely resist the temptation to splash out, and generally the older the book, the less likely I am to be disappointed.You pays yer money, as they say.

I like a connections quiz too. That is a set of three or four seemingly unconnected questions, whose answers are all connected some way. These 2 little books are a great source of them. In fact they only have one drawback, which is that so many question masters have used them in their time that all the connections within them are now well known and rather obvious. So in a way they're a victim of their own success. Still, a fine couple of books, and you can do a lot worse than to get hold of a copy. As far as I know they only produced these two volumes, which is a great shame when you think of some of the rubbish that went on to spawn 3 or 4 volumes. Thats just the way that it goes, I guess.

Many newspapers have produced or sponsored their own quiz books from time to time. The most fortuitous of these has probably been the Daily Telegraph's honourable association with Trevor Montague's A to Z of Almost Everything. The middle book in the picture is one of the more recent, produced by the Daily Mail. Its rather generic, but a fair source of chestnuts for your quiz. These books aren't totally lowest common denominator, but association with a daily newspaper is no guarantee of quality.

These two were around at about the same time as the Right Way series came out, and you can say much of the same things about them as the Right Way series. Its hardly surprising they are so similar since Don Wilson, who wrote or co wrote both of these also compiled at least a couple of the Right Way books. The Huge Quiz Book is still pretty common out there. God - I hate titles like The Huge Quiz Book. Its all so reminiscent of things like My Great Big Colouring and Activity Book, and other birthday disappointments from childhood.

When you see the words Trivial Pursuit on the front cover of the next book you're maybe worrying, because, as a rule, the questions in the British Genus edition of Trivial Pursuit were so uneven. Many of them were boring, pointless, and some of them had answers which were just plain wrong. You would be right to worry. These are not actually bad as such, and are fairly liberal with pictures, but my God, they're dull. There's so little you could use for a reasonable standard pub quiz as well. The red one is such a thick book you open it thinking that you're bound to be able to find some good, useable questions there, but you keep turning the pages, and your heart sinks as you realise that they are going to be very few and far between. Not good.

I mentioned earlier that a certain cross section of my family and friends have a default reaction to my birthday and Christmas by buying me quizbooks. Fair play, I'd much rather they did this than bought me ties and socks. In the last few years there's been a tendency amongst publishers to shove out huge unwieldy paperback monsters, and the photos show a cross section of some I've been bought in the last few years.

The Carling book is probably the best of the bunch, which is not a huge accolade to be honest. For these books are not exactly everything that they might appear to be. Typically they have 15 or 16 questions per page, which amounts usually to around 7 - 8000 questions in total. That's a lot for your money. But how much can you actually use ? How much do you actually care about ? Not a lot, to be honest.

Look at these books. They're stablemates, different questions inside, but absolutely the same layout. Three of them are virtuous, though, and one of them is bloody naughty. True, Penguin were surely not breaking any rules calling the multicoloured one a Mastermind quiz book, mastermind being a word in common usage, but it suggests that the book has something to do with the TV show - and it has bog all to do with it. Bloody cheek. Actually to be fair they're not bad, the four books, and there's tons of questions there, but please ! Slight clue that these were published in mid - late 80s. After Trivial Pursuit came out, trivia was the buzz word for quite a few years afterwards. Thankfully that seems to have died the death now.

Or almost. This book actually hails from 2002, but its worthy of mention as another decent 'starter ' book.

The questions aren't fiendishly difficult, but there's lots of them, over 7000 if you believe the front cover, and if you can get to grips with them, then you'll get to grips with the vast majority of pub quizzes. Its pretty standard as it follows the typical arrangement for this type of quiz book, tons of themed rounds, interspersed with general knowledge. But I should warn that the print is very small, and in order to get that many questions crammed in the answers to each set of questions are printed upside down at the bottom of the page. You can do better, but you can do worse as well.

I was given this one by a work colleague, who had given up his secondary calling as a question master, and recognised in me someone who was even more quiz obssessive than he was. I won't lie to you, the cover looks bloody awful. Yet amazingly this is a little bit of a find. There's a lot of chestnuts in here, yes, but there's a significant number of gems as well, which I never expected from it. Yes, OK, any book which calls itself "the Ultimate" is lying, but this one is lying a lot less than many others that make a similar claim. A lot has to do with time and trouble taken over the phrasing of the questions, and also proper detailed explanations of the answers - the hallmark of a good quiz book in my opinion.

Then we have a particular species of quiz book, where a famous name is attached to what otherwise would have been a fairly run of the mill thing. Judith Keppel's book followed fairly quickly on the heels of her becoming the first million pound winer on WWTBAM. This is reflected in the layout of the book, which gives a choice of 4 answers to each question. There are 4 sections of questions - Easy, Tricky, Hard and Very Difficult. However the supposedly very difficult questions wouldn't bother even an average pub quizzer, I'm afraid. Its mediocre stuff, obviously shoved together in a bit of  rush to capitalise on Judith's sudden celebrity, and never mind short changing the poor old customer.There's worse out there, but there's better too.

As regards the Emlyn Hughes book, look, I only paid 10p for it, right ? There are companion titles for football and horse racing. Look, I don't blame the late Emlyn for cashing in on his stint in A Question Of Sport with this 1988 effort. I doubt he had to compile the questions, though. I'm no expert on cricket - the level of difficulty seems decent enough, but 650 odd questions didn't seem like a lot for your

 

 money at all. As a working quiz book its not that great because, as with all sport quiz books, so much of it goes out of date relatively quickly. There's classic questions you can use, fair enough, but you'd be hard put to pick enough questions you could still use today to keep your pub quiz going for very long. Greavsie's book is actually rather reminiscent of the Question of Sport quiz books, not just because it covers a fairly full range of sports, but also because of the variety of question types and activities. As for Gary Lineker's book, well, it has over 1000 questions which isn't that bad. For me though I will always associate it with the time that Nick Hancock embarrassed Sir Gary on They Think Its All Over, by asking him questions from the book.John Parrot's one is something of a cash in on his stint on Question of Sport - and I don't blame him for that.  Some straight questions, some what am I talking about - identify the incident sort of stuff. S'alright, I spose. It all depends what you like. If you're an absolute sports fanatic then this sort of thing might just light your candle. If you're like me, just an all rounder, then some of this sort of thing might well strike you as a little bit of a yawn. I should complain - this was another charity shop special.  

This one was from ebay. I liked the look of it, and I've noticed that the setter of a quiz league in which I play has a thing about setting Astronomy questions. I had a boyhood interest in the subject anyway, party through having watched Apollo 11 land on the moon when I was at a very impressionable age. still, it's just as well not to sit back on your laurels in any given subject. This is quite a book. Short, short questions sections, many of which are true or false, and long, long explanation sections. Well, what do you expect - it's by Patrick Moore and he wasn't likely to just lend his name to a book, any more than he would have been likely to short change you.

 If you do become a regular quiz setter there will come a time when you'll want to endow your quiz with a little extra flavour, through throwing in a little local colour. This is where a little volume such as the one in the picture comes into its own. I think that this must have been a labour of love, since I can’t imagine its compiler ever having made much money from it. At £2.95 in 2004 it wasn’t expensive at all. Even cheaper when you get it five years later from a charity shop. There’s not a huge number of questions for your money – there are 4 category quizzes, each consisting of 80 questions. But the questions are pretty good though. When you consider that at most I would ask 8 specifically welsh themed questions per quiz, you can see that it will keep me going for a long time. Good stuff.

Flavours of the Months

There's always new quiz books coming along - modesty prevents me from blowing the trumpet of my own quiz ebooks ( I do that on another page anyway ), but there's always new ones coming along. Here's some of the more recent ones I've picked up.

Rob DJ's Monday Night Pub Quiz Book

This one grew out of the Chris Moyles breakfast show on Radio 1. I like Chris Evans on Radio 2, so I'm not a devotee. OK, inside the book you get 2000 questions. There are  7 broad categories - anagrams, acronyms & riddles, entertainment, general knowledge, geography, history, music & sport/leisure. Personally that’s too much entertainment for me, but it’s a fair reflection of what you get in an average pub quiz. You can’t really argue with box office – just check out the reviews of this one on Amazon, which are all very positive. It’s a decent easy quiz book, but that’s about it for me – it’s just a little too easy to ever make it onto my favourites list.

Al Murray's Pub Landlord's Pub Quiz

Al Murray is a highly intelligent and innovative comedian. Unfortunately I'm not a great fan of his most successful character, the Pub Landlord. Still, anyone who is a descendant of William Makepeace Thackeray deserves special consideration in my book - I think that Vanity Fair is the funniest book I have ever read. As for this one  to an extent it’s pretty standard pub quiz questions, with the correct answers given, but given in the style of the pub landlord himself. Which is great if you actually like the pub landlord. Again, it has tremendous reviews on Amazon, and to be fair there are more different categories of question in this one than in the previous book, and some questions are genuinely original and interesting. You’ll read worse than this in your time.