Quizzes are meant to be quick.
That’s the general understanding, at least.
Maybe because of this, while there’s no shortage of book quizzes to be found on BuzzFeed, Sporcle and the like, many of them feature the same classic literary sediment being stirred up to the surface.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with user-created quizzes on pop-literature topics, and you can find plenty.
There’s also nothing wrong with the same-y material you across bigger sites.
But it can be hard to find quizzes that go beyond the usual. It can also be tough to find ones that result in new reading ideas, or that strike a balance between fun and educational.
So I’ve herded together a selection of quality online quizzes (mostly from major publications or educational sites) that either go beyond the mainstream or have something else special or interesting to recommend them. A few others are just ones that I thought might be fun to throw in the mix even if they do represent what you more typically find. These are still all very mainstream and limited in a sense, but such is the nature of online quizzes.
All the quizzes below are interactive, meaning you can select your answers and have them tracked and/or corrected for you.
You’re welcome, and I’m sorry about that thing you were supposed to get done today.
These are in no particular order.
The Free Rice Literature quiz page
This is a continuous game you can play to earn donations through the World Food Programme (no account required). It has its limits, but you can technically keep it going as long as you like, and it has more of a mix than you might expect from a general literature quiz game.
There are ten levels, and you can always lose ground no matter how far you get, which keeps things interesting.
Encyclopedia Britannica’s Literature & Language quizzes
There are a lot of these, and you can find more by following the link above, scrolling down to “Browse Quizzes by Category” and selecting “Literature & Language.” I’ve just picked out what I thought were some of the more interesting-looking ones. For an extra dose of excitement, these are timed.
- Russian Literature
- Writers of the Harlem Renaissance
- Nobel Laureates in Literature
- Poetry: First Lines
- Writers’ Retreats
- Indian Literature: Fact or Fiction?
- Memorable Beginnings Vol 1: Match the Opening Line to the Work
- Memorable Beginnings Vol 2: Match the Opening Line to the Work
- An Odyssey of Grecian Literature
- Greek and Roman Literature: Fact or Fiction?
The Strand’s job application quizzes from The New York Times
These are supposedly samples of the quiz the Strand Bookstore in NYC gives its potential employees.
The Guardian quizzes
The Guardian has a huge stash of online book quizzes floating around. In addition to (and slightly overlapping with) the ones below, you can check out the links on this page. Some of these were created for certain holidays or events, but at the time of posting, they’re all still functional.
- Mind your languages: literature in translation – quiz
- How well do you know contemporary Scottish literature? Quiz
- St. Patrick’s Day Quiz – take a literary tour of Ireland
- Alcohol and literature – quiz
- A taste for fiction – food in literature picture quiz
- Dreams in literature – a nightmarish quiz!
- Quiz: Can you identify these classic crime novels by their covers?
- Crime in fiction: quiz
- Test your knowledge of Chinese literature
- The page 69 quiz – can you identify the classic book from a single paragraph?
The Christian Science Monitor literature quizzes
These are pretty straightforward, but easy to get sucked into.
- How much do you know about African literature?
- How much do you know about African-American literature?
- Are you an expert in American literature?
- What do you know about Asian literature?
- How well do you know British literature?
- How much do you know about French literature?
- How much do you know about German literature?
- How well do you know historical fiction?
- How much do you know about literature by and about immigrants?
- How well do you know the lives of authors?
- How well do you know Russian literature?
- How much do you know about women’s literature?
- How well do you know these famous memoirs?
- Mouth-watering reads: Take our food in literature quiz!
Canadian Literature Quiz 1, Quiz 2, Quiz 3 and Quiz 4 from The Canadian Encyclopedia
CanLit Trivia Extravaganza! from CBCbooks
Canadians are all about promoting their people.
QUIZ: How well do you know South Asian literature? from The Express Tribune
How well do you know African literature? from CNN
Have you read the 200 ‘best American novels’? from PBS
Okay, so this one’s actually just a checklist, but quite a long one, and we like lists, too, right? Plus, kudos for putting “best American novels” in quotes.
Reading Comprehension quizzes from W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
These are book-specific quizzes intended for students and a bit drier, but they’re nice for, well, reading comprehension. Also, you can sometimes choose the number of questions you get. The link above accesses the whole list.
I won’t bullet them out here because the appeal is limited for those who haven’t read particular books, but just for an idea, there are quizzes on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Márquez’s Death Constant Beyond Love and Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl.
Classic First Lines of Novels in Emojis: A Quiz from Slate
This one is just cute, though I feel I’m missing something regarding the eggplant in #3. Clue me in if you can. (Update: I still can’t connect the image of an eggplant with the word “loins.” I’m just thinking of roasted eggplant now.)