Be the hit of every party. We feature a new trivia question in each edition of the CAPL email newsletter.
Q: A “carat” weighs approximately how many milligrams?
A: 200 milligrams
Q: How many items does the Library of Congress have?
A: As the largest library in the world, over 173 million!
Q: Who wrote “More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free”?
A: Helen Keller in her book Midstream: My Later Life. Read more quotes from her.
Q: How many sides do snowflakes have?
Q: Native Americans cultivated which crops that are staples in modern diets?
A: Corn, beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and berries among many others.
Q: Halloween evolved from which ancient religious festival?
A: A Celtic pagan festival called Samhain (pronounced SOW-in or SAH-win).
Q: What is the bestselling soundtrack of all time?
A: The Bodyguard (1992) with Kevin Costner, and, of course, Whitney Houston who starred in the movie and sang multiple songs on the soundtrack. Check availability in the catalog for the soundtrack.
Q: Which fictional character received a printed obituary on the front page of the New York Times?
A: Hercule Poirot, the detective in over 40 books by Agatha Christie. Read the obituary here.
Q: Which famous mountain peak is named Chomolungma in Tibetan and Sagarmatha in Nepali?
A: Mount Everest.
Q: How many miles is the National Trails System in the US?
A: 88,600 miles.
Q: No U.S. president has died in this month.
A: Well, May, of course! (Was that too easy?)
Q: This plant is responsible for 50-85% of the Earth’s oxygen.
A: Phytoplankton, which are found in the ocean.
Q: This famous artist couple had a stormy relationship, at one point divorcing to then re-marry shortly thereafter.
A: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Q: This American mathematician and NASA scientist began high school at the age of 10…
A: Who is Katherine Johnson!
Q: The segments in oranges and other citrus fruits are called what?
Q: Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize, died 125 years ago on December 10. How many years must the public wait before past nominees are revealed?
A: 50 years!
Q: The unit of measurement known as horsepower is roughly equal to how many watts?
A: 746 watts (rounded up from 745.7)
Q: In German, “poltergeist” means what?
A: Noisy ghost.
Q: What is the world capital closest to the equator?
A: Fittingly, it is Quito, Ecuador.
Q: What do you mix with sand to make a dry fire extinguisher?
A: Baking soda.
Q: “It’s amazing the difference A bit of sky can make.” Can you identify the poem and author this quote is from?
A: Shel Silverstein’s Sky Seasoning from his book Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Q: Which aquarium was the first to house a permanent inland saltwater exhibit?
A: Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, of course! Read more about the history of the Aquarium here and here.
Q: Omphalophobia is the fear of what?
A: Belly buttons.
Q: Scholars are unsure of exactly when the tradition of April Fools’ Day began, but what year was there a direct reference to it in literature?
A: 1561 in a Flemish poem by Eduard De Dene about a nobleman sending “his servant on crazy, fruitless errands. The servant recognizes that he is being sent on “fool’s errands” because it’s April 1.” Read about the known history of April Fools’ Day from the Library of Congress Blog.
Q: Where is the famous illuminated manuscript The Book of Kells housed?
A: The Library of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Q: This famous French author was born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie.
A: Alexandre Dumas, 1802-1870.
Q: Where is Earth’s largest waterfall?
A: In the ocean beneath the Denmark Strait, which is the body of water that separates Greenland and Iceland. This was a little bit of a trick question!
Q: In the James Bond series, what does the character name “Q” stand for?
A: Quartermaster. Ian Flemmings’ books, featuring the infamous spy, began publishing in 1953.
Q: The terms wake, kettle, or committee refers to a group of what bird?
Q: Most of us know the song Monster Mash well, but can you name the two men who wrote the classic Halloween song?
A: Bobby “Boris” Pickett and Leonard Capizzi. Read how this famous song came to be.
Q: What was the original flavor of the filling in Twinkies?
A: Banana Cream. During World War II there was a banana shortage, so the filling was changed to vanilla.
Q: On August 18, 1920, which state ratified the 19th Amendment making women’s suffrage federal law?
Q: What plant family is vanilla extract produced from?
A: Orchids! Read about how it’s produced here.
Q: How many countries does the Nile River pass through?
A: 11: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and (most famously) Egypt.
Q: If you’ve ever looked on the back of a book, you’ll likely find a barcode called the ISBN, which is the literary version of a fingerprint. What does “ISBN” stand for?
A: International Standard Book Number.
Q: This abolitionist, nurse, and Union spy was born as Araminta Ross in Maryland in the early 1820s.
A: Who was Harriet Tubman.
Q: What is the name of the Pacific Ocean island chain that stretches from southwestern Alaska to Russia?
A: The Aleutian Islands.
Q: Who was the captain of the Rouse Simmons, the most infamous of Christmas Tree Ships?
A: Herman E. Schuenemann, born in Wisconsin in 1865. He was nicknamed “Captain Santa.”
Q: Which code was never cracked by the Japanese during World War II?
A: The Navajo language code. Read more about the involvement of Native Americans during both World Wars. Also, check out the autobiography by Chester Nez, one of the original Navajo code talkers during WWII.
Q: What are the three most common surnames in Illinois?
A: If you guessed Smith as the most common, you’d be correct! The other two most common last names are Johnson and Williams. If you want to research your surname further, access Ancestry.com for free inside the Library on one of our computers or bring in your laptop or device and connect to our Wifi.
Q: How many passport applications did we accept during our first year of offering this service (August 2018-June 2019)?
A: 630. Check out our fiscal year 2018-19 in review (pdf format) for more CAPL statistics from the year.
Q: Which book is considered to be the best-selling novel of all time?
A: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Because it was first published in 1605 it’s had a head start, although that means there aren’t any exact numbers regarding the number of copies sold, which is believed to be over 500 million. (By the way, the Bible is considered to be the best-selling book of all time.)
Q: What is the fifth most abundant element in the universe?
A: Neon! While it is abundant in the universe, it is less so on Earth: “… it is present in the Earth’s atmosphere at a concentration of just 18 parts per million. It is extracted by fractional distillation of liquid air.” Neon is a non-toxic gas that is odorless and colorless- but will glow orange-red when voltage is applied, hence its use in neon signs.
Q: What are the origins of the ukulele?
A: “Though the ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument, it is actually a modification of Portuguese instruments called the machete do braça, braguinha, rajāo, and cavaquinho.” Read 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the ‘Ukulele from The National Museum of American History.
Q: Which bird is the smallest in the United States?
A: The Calliope Hummingbird. It weighs about one-third as much as the smallest North American warblers and about the same as a ping pong ball.
Q: What book, owned by Bill Gates, was recently on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy?
A: Codex Leicester by Leonardo Da Vinci. The book of Da Vinci’s scientific ideas and notes (written backward) is only 72 pages long. It was purchased by Bill Gates for $30.8 million in 1994.
Q: This actress appeared in over 50 American, English and German films in her career, making her the first Chinese-American movie star.
A: Anna May Wong (born Wong Liu Tsong). She was active from the 1920-60s.
Q: Who was the most photographed American during the 19th century?
A: Frederick Douglass. He was photographed 160 times, more than even Abraham Lincoln. From the book Picturing Frederick Douglass by John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier.
Q: Which Chicago area town was the location for one of America’s first “think tanks” and code-breaking operations?
A: Geneva. The Riverbank estate, owned by George and Nelle Fabyan, boasted a home renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright, a Japanese garden, a Dutch-style windmill, and one of America’s first “think tanks.” Riverbank was responsible for Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman to meet, marry, and begin their prolific code-breaking careers together. Read about Riverbank and the Friedmans in this book. Also, you can still visit the Riverbank estate today.
Q: What year was the first picture book for children published?
A: Orbis Pictus (The World in Pictures) by John Amos Comenius, considered to be the first picture book specifically for children, was published in 1658. There is even an annual award given for writing children’s nonfiction that is named after Orbis Pictus.
Q: Who was responsible for the formation of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II?
A: Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Love simultaneously each formed a program which would become the one (WASP).
Q: What is considered to be the “best” Halloween candy?
A: CandyStore.com conducted a survey of 40,000 customers as well as consulting other “best of” lists to determine the best candy to be, drum roll please … Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The worst was determined to be Circus Peanuts. Now, let the debating begin …
Q: What was the most challenged book in 2017?
A: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher due to suicide being a theme in the YA book. See the 2017 Top Ten Challenged Books list from the American Library Association. Banned Books Week is September 23-29.
Q: Which country was the most visited in 2016?
A: Oui! If you guessed France, you were correct, according to the World Tourism Organization 2017 report (see page 6 of the report).
Q: Which two chemical elements are combined to create a turquoise colored firework?
A: Chlorine and copper. Read more about other chemical = color combos, and general firework trivia from the Smithsonian.
Q: How many books does the Library of Congress own?
A: While the Library of Congress does not own a copy of all books published, they do have the largest collection in the world at over 38.6 million books. They also have an extensive digital collection that includes many interesting historical photographs and documents.
Q: Which famous resident of Cary had two horses race and win the Kentucky Derby?
A: Fannie and John D. Hertz (founder of the Yellow Cab Company and Hertz Rent-a-Car). Both horses are in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Reigh Count won the 1928 Kentucky Derby and sired the eventual 1943 Triple Crown Winner Count Fleet. The Hertz estate and surrounding area later became Trout Valley. Read up on Cary and Trout Valley history in The Loss of an Era and Cary Me Back, both books in our local history collection. (Also, here is a fun video of the 1928 Kentucky Derby.)
Q: Winter seems hesitant to go away! So, what was the latest historical spring date that Chicagoland experienced measurable snowfall?
A: Of course, Tom Skilling has the answer: May 11, 1966.
Q: How many Marshmallow Peeps are produced each day?
A: An average of 5.5 million, according to this Peeps trivia article from Mental Floss. It also states that approximately 2 billion (!) were made in 2016.
Q: Although it is often derided as being a “Hallmark holiday,” who is believed to have begun the tradition of Valentine’s Day?
A: The ancient Romans and it actually has some very dark origins. The holiday was first held for the god Lupercus, then the goddess Juno– who ruled over marriage. Over the centuries, Christian influence has contributed to the holiday we know and love 😉 today. Source: Valentine’s Day by Joyce K. Kessel
Q: Which hobby requires a license, has a food item as part of its commonly known name, often uses Morse code, and is useful during natural disasters?
A: Amateur Radio, also known as Ham Radio. January is National Hobby Month.
Q: Who is the highest-paid author?
A: That would be J.K. Rowling, followed by James Patterson.
Q: What classic Thanksgiving side dish was the most searched for between November 1-24, 2016 in the US?
A: Green bean casserole, followed closely by mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes were the most popular search in Illinois.
Q: How many varieties of apples are grown throughout the world?
A: 7,500 (!) according to the University of Illinois Extention, but only 100 are grown commercially in the US. (Also important: a 9-inch pie requires 2 pounds of apples.)
Q: What was the most challenged book in 2016?
A: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki “because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.” See the 2016 Top Ten Challenged Books list from the American Library Association. Each year libraries across the nation celebrate Banned Books Week– look for our Readers Nook display September 24-30.
Q: Which famous science fiction writer was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 20?
A: That would be Ray Bradbury, author of the classic novel Fahrenheit 451. He was born in 1920 and passed away fairly recently, in 2012.
Q: Which president, surprisingly, was a barbecue enthusiast?
A: George Washington. “… his diaries abound with references to barbecue– including one that lasted three days” from Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue! (p. xvi).
Q: How long would it hypothetically take to reach the sun by plane?
A: 26 years! Source: NASA Sun trivia webpage.
Q: Where does Route 66 begin in Chicago?
A: On Adams Street in front of the Art Institute of Chicago. Source: City of Chicago website.
Q: The sativus species of crocus produces which infamous spice?
A: Saffron. The Saffron crocus flower has three bright red stigmas that yield the spice. It takes more than 100,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron, thus making it the most expensive spice in the world. Sources: Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers and The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs by Padma Lakshmi.
Q: This prolific 19th-century inventor created a machine that could cut, fold, and glue flat-bottomed paper bags automatically, replacing the work of thirty people and extensive cost.
A: Margaret E. Knight. View her Paper-Bag Machine patent information. Read more about her and other women inventors in Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs.
Q: Which NFL team has won the most Super Bowls, and what is their record?
A: The Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve played in eight Super Bowls and have won six. Source: The Super Bowl: The First Fifty Years of America’s Greatest Game by David Fischer (796.332 FIS)
Q: Martin Luther King Jr. studied the life and teachings of which influential national leader?
A: Mahatma Ghandi. Source: Lewis, David Levering. “King, Martin Luther, Jr.” Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2017. Web. 5 Jan. 2017. Access Grolier Online with your library card.
Q: What are the most circulated juvenile item and adult item in our collection?
A: Juvenile item: the Shrek DVD (430 checkouts); adult item: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone DVD (390 checkouts). We like our movies!
Q: How many years was it between the Chicago Cubs World Series win in 1908 and the win previous to that? (Diehards will probably know this!)
A: Significantly shorter: one year. They won back-to-back series in 1907 and 1908. Maybe they can repeat again? CNN put together a slideshow of events and milestones that have happened since the Cubs won in 1908.
Q: Which famous person unexpectedly died on Halloween in 1926? He was especially talented at the trick part of “trick or treat.”
A: Harry Houdini. He died on October 31, 1926 as a result of injuries suffered from a punch to the stomach. He was 52 years old. Source: our Grolier database – log in with your Cary Area Library card.
Q: Which title was the most challenged book (attempted to have the book removed or banned) in 2015?
A: Looking for Alaska by John Green, due to “offensive language, [being] sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.” Banned Books Week is September 25-October 1. American Library Association Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books List 2015
Q: Which international city has hosted the Olympics the most in the modern era (20th and 21st centuries)?
A: London. The city hosted in 1908, 1948, and 2012. Source: our Grolier database – log in with your Cary Area Library card (Olympic Games. (2016). Encyclopedia Americana. Retrieved August 3, 2016, from Grolier Online http://ea.grolier.com/article?id=0295210-00)
Q: What sweet treat is celebrated during the month of July, and specifically on Sunday, July 17?
A: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! July is National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month is National Ice Cream day.
Q: Wrigley Field was actually built for which baseball team?
A: According to this article on Parade, the stadium was built for the Chicago Federals.
If you’re interested in the Cubs, you may want to check out our program Best Seat In the House featuring Bruce Bohrer and stories of his nine seasons ushering at Wrigley.