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Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors
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Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors

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3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  181 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
From Homer to Harry Potter, from Chaucer to Charlotte's Web, acompelling book of quizzes on history's most influential literary worksand writers


Did a whale named "Mocha Dick" inspire Melville's masterpiece?
Who was the first poet to speak at a presidential inauguration?
Which French-speaking high school football star shook up the literary world?
Do you freeze when someone men
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Harper Paperbacks (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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karen
it took me and greg about eight months to get through this one, due to misplacing the book or boredom or "better things to do" (can you imagine??) but today we finished it and celebrated by eating expensive birthday chocolates (thanks, elizabeth!!!) and watching the man in the yellow shirt sleep facedown on the rock. stay classy, woodside!!

this book was not as good as who killed iago (click this, alfonso!) which was our last book of literary challenges shared on sunday dorkouts (and let us not
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Jennifer
Jun 04, 2017 Jennifer rated it liked it
Interesting trivia about authors and books, but not much depth. I don't think it was supposed to be a deep read though. There was a lot of trivia I knew and some I didn't, some authors I hadn't event heard of, but many I was familiar with. It was fun to learn a few bits a trivia I didn't already know, but this wouldn't be high on my must read list.
Carrie
Jan 17, 2013 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Having never read one of these "Don't Know Much About..." books, I was unprepared for the format. Each chapter (if one could call them chapters) is given a small blurb about the topic, whether specific to a particular book title, author, or subject (such as, working or catchy titles, epitaphs, or Nobel Prize winners), and follows with a handful of quiz questions (occasionally true/false). The backside of that page then supplies the answers. This setup made reading through the book go quicker tha ...more
Ludmilla
Kime Göre Neye Göre "Need to Know"? Mesela Oliver Twist'in mi David Copperfield'ın mı bilmemkaç yılındaki uyarlamasının 5 Oscar aldığını bilmek gerekir mi? Ve buna benzer tonla saçmalık. Kitap okumuyorsanız ya da yaz kış elinizde güzel dursun diye bir kitap taşıyorsanız, evet, bu kitabı okuyabilirsiniz. Böylece biraz hava yapabilir, imajı kurtarabilirsiniz. Ama gerçek bir okursanız verdiğiniz paraya yazık. Uzak durun.
Kathy
Aug 22, 2014 Kathy rated it it was ok
I thought this would be more of an encyclopedic reference to great literature. Instead, the summary of each book was entirely too short, and the trivia test were distracting and misleading. I would have preferred a lot more books, a tiny bit longer summaries and lots of facts and true trivia – no quizzes. I just hope all the false questions don’t stick in my head as facts for the literature.
Lenna
Jan 13, 2011 Lenna rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I picked up this book at the library hoping to learn a little more about the classics and the authors who wrote them. This book did not even include some of the basics that I learned in high school English. Instead, it gave very little (useless) information and then quized the reader on trivia that would not be known by a reader who "doesn't know much about literature."
David
Jan 29, 2014 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
What made Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned good was its irreverent yet balanced tone. Unlike many history books, it didn’t just focus on the sunny side, but also didn’t villanize any more than necessary. It was one of the only history books I’ve read that really highlighted that everyone has always been as hapless as they are today.

The problem with Don’t Know Much About Literature is that Davis totally switched up his approach
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Nostalgia Reader
Apr 25, 2013 Nostalgia Reader rated it did not like it
1.5 stars

I've liked how Davis has set up his previous books, in their question-and-answer format, so I figured that's what this one would be. But I was very disappointed.

It's made up entirely of short trivia quizzes (4-6 questions usually), with a paragraph introduction/summary of the work or author. Of course there were some authors and works that I did learn some things about, but the answers to the quiz questions were just short explanations, not the longer, in-depth, usually comprehensive an
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DC
Jul 03, 2011 DC rated it liked it
Note: This book is part of the Don't Know Much About series (which I only found out about when I looked this up on Goodreads, lol).

What I thought would be a definitive and extremely wordy guide to well-known books and authors actually just turned out to be a bunch of trivia about well-known books and authors. So, basically, it 1) disappointed me when I saw the contents, but it also 2) astounded me on how simply placed and interesting the facts were mentioned in this book. It gives little backgro
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BookSweetie
Nov 10, 2009 BookSweetie rated it liked it
Part of the Don't Know Much About series, this is simply an okay sort of trivia style book about literature with a consistent two page pattern: PAGE ONE:Don't know much about X, a paragraph about X, and questions about X -- and PAGE TWO: answers about X. There isn't much to say about this book other than here are some topics that equal the "X" referred to in the previous statement: Fictional First Lines, Charlotte's Web, Dracula, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Victor Hugo, Gone with the Wind, ...more
Delali
Jun 05, 2011 Delali rated it really liked it
This book was something I didn't expect. I thought it would be paragraph after paragraph on different writing but I was happily proven wrong. For every author or famous work there is a paragraph that gives some background and then you have a quiz to test your knowledge on the particular topic. I got to see how much or rather how little I knew. This got me through my finals exams when I had nothing else to do.
Allison
Mar 23, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it
A fun trivia book about classic literature. Each page is a different subject, like "Fictional First Lines," "Banned Books," or specific authors. There's a brief paragraph of information on the topic, and then a quiz. It definitely piqued my curiosity about some of the classics I'd never read, and some authors I'd never even heard of! A good way to amuse yourself while compiling an extensive reading list.
J.J. Lair
Jan 16, 2013 J.J. Lair rated it it was ok
I really enjoy Kenneth C Davis' books. Since I write a blog and am working on my next manuscript, I bought this for a little inspiration and fun reading. I didn't get much out of it. The bios of the authors were short and bland. The follow up questions were pretty easy. If I leaned anything, I won't remember it because of the format.
I didn't rate it high because I didn't learn anything substantial. Maybe the next Davis book, I'll rate higher.
David Ward
May 30, 2014 David Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know But Never Learned About Great Books and Authors by Kenneth C. Davis and Jenny Davis (Harper Collins 2009) (806.0). This volume features interesting one and two page summaries of the authors' choices for inclusion on their list of “great books.” My rating: 7/10 finished 2010.
Hannah
Jan 30, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it
This book isn't great to just sit down and read. It's written as a compilation of lists of questions and answers. So, it would be great to provide trivia questions or if you want to test your knowledge on commonly recognized classics, but not necessarily to get more in-depth background information on literature.
Julie
May 24, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, non-fiction, book
While I typically devour books about books and I have enjoyed Davis’s other books, the “quiz” format of DKMA Literature just didn’t work. It was literally too trivial and didn’t offer any quality information on literary topics or authors. I browsed a few topics that caught my interest, but the configuration made any content meaningless.
Yasemin Şahin
Yazar, öğretmenlere, kütüphanecilere bir edebiyatı kolaylama kitabı hazırlamış diyebiliriz. Tanınmış yazar, şairler ve edebiyatla ilgili pulitzer, nobel ödülleri hakkında bilmemiz gerekenler; yazarların öne çıkan kitapları hakkında kısa kısa bilgiler; şiirlerin en ünlü dizeleri; filme uyarlanan kitaplar vb. hakkında küçük küçük notlar...Soru cevap yoluyla akılda kalıcı anektodlar da içeriyordu.
Rafal Cebula
Jan 13, 2016 Rafal Cebula rated it it was ok
A very disappointing book. I was under the impression this was about learning new ways to read literature and understand the themes that are going on. This is in fact simply a trivia style book. With a paragraph on a topic/authors and 5 quick questions about them. Kind of disappointing but I guess the book is good for what it is.
Leonard
Dec 29, 2009 Leonard rated it liked it
Very brief introductions to numerous writers and other aspects of literature. Quick reading but not very inspiring, unless, of course, you actually read the authors you are very superficially introduced to in this book.
Elaine
Jan 17, 2015 Elaine added it
Thonk I was expecting a summary book but the quizzes are pointless if you know nothing about the topics/authors. And if I knew the answers I would know o lot and won't have even picked up the book. Still a reasonable summary of key authors etc if you need a reading list
Steve Clark
I hadn't read one of these Don't Know Much About books in a while. I found the quiz format tiresome after a bit.
Wendy
Oct 26, 2009 Wendy rated it liked it
Cool factoids on famous authors and classics and it gave me some new ideas for my growing to-read booklist. Short, so not a huge commitment. Enjoyed it.
Melissa
Sep 27, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Lots of interesting literary trivia - and we all know I love trivia....especially about books
Chris
Jul 09, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
Apparently I don't know as much about literature as I thought I did. They should have had a Laura Ingalls Wilder quiz. I would have rocked that.
Sherry
Mar 06, 2012 Sherry rated it it was amazing
Fun little book filled with factoids about other books and authors. Love it!
Iamabibliophile
Mar 17, 2013 Iamabibliophile rated it did not like it
I did not think this was a trivia book. I was expecting a book with synopses of great works of literature not quizzes.
Scott
Oct 27, 2012 Scott rated it it was ok


Not as good as the others. I disliked the quiz format.
Jess
Sep 03, 2009 Jess rated it liked it
I don't enjoy this quiz format in this book as much as the other books in the series.
Dan
Sep 03, 2010 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English majors
Recommended to Dan by: Read about it somewhere
This is a quick read. The humor became predictable.
J.C. Wing
Apr 05, 2013 J.C. Wing rated it it was amazing
Excellent reference book...made me realize one more time just how many great books there are in this world. Oh...so many books, so little time...
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Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Don't Know Much About® series of books and audios for adults and children. The first title in the series, Don't Know Much About® History became a New York Times bestseller in 1991 and remained on the paperback list for 35 consecutive weeks. It has since been revised several times and now has more than 1.6 million copies in print.

He
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