‘Competitive readers’ duke it out in Battle of the Books
There is no skimming for the 29 teams competing in Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Battle of the Books.
Teams of three to five people need to read — thoroughly — the list of books “assigned” each year.
“The questions are really hard,” says Dan Hensley, the library’s adult programming coordinator.
Ehrrin Keenan is not scared.
“I’m a big reader and I love competitions. It’s like competitive reading,” she says of the book battles.
It’s her team’s second time competing, after taking second place in 2017.
Keenan, of Elliott in Pittsburgh’s West End, is a library volunteer who has worked with the teen Battle of the Books program.
“It was so fun,” she says.
Adults demand equal time
This year is the third for the adult version, Hensley says, formed after parents, teachers and volunteers like Keenan asked for a battle of their own.
Five selected authors come from the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures’s upcoming Ten Evenings, along with another five featured in past organization events.
The library provides copies of the books, which this year include “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson, “Circe” by Madeline Miller and “There, There” by Tommy Orange.
A committee of librarians select each year’s books, Hensley explains.
Team members typically split the 10 books among the members.
The library plans trivia nights at Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse on Aug. 21 and 28 and at Threadbare Cider House on Aug. 22 and 29.
Reading for pleasure, sport
Captain of the Margaret N’Atwood: The Leading Menschen of Reading Comprehension team, Keenan and her team will face off with challengers during the Aug. 21 event.
The five women are inspired by soccer standout Megan Rapinoe and Martha Atwood, author of the popular “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
A twist on Pittsburghese — n’at — is the team name’s inspiration.
“I think its a really fun way to encourage people to read books they might not have picked up otherwise,” she says of the book battle.
“I’ve learned so much about the library through varied opportunities. I’m kind of an evangelist. There are so many resources — books and so much more,” Keenan says.
Hensley says it’s part of the library’s efforts to create social events centered on its readers. “We know a book club is not going to work for everyone,” he says.
Some teams have kept the same members for three years. Some are parents and adult children, others are teachers whose students have participated in the past and some are librarians from other libraries in the area, Hensley says. Team cheering sections at the events are encouraged, he adds.
And if Team Margaret N’Atwood wins?
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .