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Resources and Tools - Books

General - Language Arts - Social Studies - Science - Mathematics - Humanities

Incomplete Education
- An Incomplete Education - by Judy Jones, William Wilson. This book covers most subject areas. I really like the literature section as it offers some of the more obscure works by each author and provides a little background on him/her. If you are starting from point zero, the economics section, while short, gives you enough info to have a fighting chance on most economists questions. This book is very readable and its authors are almost funny at times. A must for all academic teamers! While there is a newer edition, you can buy this one used for around $1.00 plus shipping at half.com here.
New York Time's Guide to Essential Knowledge
- New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge - While I have not seen this included in many academic team reference lists, don't overlook it. This book does an excellent job of not only listing information that comes up often, but also provides good explanations. You'll have difficulty finding another resource that breaks down architectural time period that also outlines the basic laws of the major scientific categories. Talk about diverse subject coverage! Get a leg up on the competition and at least buy a copy of this for the team reference library. New, this can get pretty pricey. However, a very good used copy of this older edition can be purchased for around $4.00 plus shipping here.
The 100
- The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History - by Michael H. Hart. When preparing for quick recall, this is a good resource that includes one to two page bios on scientists, political figures, mathematicians, and religious figures. Especially when just getting started, science and social studies players can pick up a little depth on the individuals covered. There are a few people included that are a little more obscure as well. This would be a great book to purchase by a coach so that he/she can loan it out to team members with certain persons flagged for reading. You can purchase a used copy here for around $6-10 plus shipping.
The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
- The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy - by Hirsch, Trefil, and Kett. This book covers mostly social studies topics but includes some non-social studies topics/people, so we decided to include it hear as well. It can serve one of a couple purposes in that it can certainly be a reference guide when something comes up in a question, but you'd be surprised to know it's not a bad read either. While not going in depth, the user would gain a surface knowledge of an event or person so that the giveaway part of question they hear later should do just that - give away the answer. While its focus is definitely history/geography, there are a few chapters on humanities and a few more on science as well. The edition shown to the left can be purchased used for under $1.00 plus shipping here.
Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia
- Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia - by Benet. This is THE language arts reference. Almost all question writers use this or have used this at some point in time when writing. Since the writers use it, it is probably a good idea that you do too! This gives a short (sometimes) description of authors, works, characters, and places in most important works for quick recall purposes. Designed as an encyclopedia, it isn't exactly a great read, but if you need to know more about that book you heard a question on back in practice, this is where you need to go first! Buy this! Buy it now! You can buy it for less than a dollar plus shipping here despite its cover price of fifty dollars.
Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
- Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature - Similar to Benet's in the format, it is less commonly used. However, I can tell you that it too is an excellent resource. Don't necessarily limit yourself to choosing between the two as sometimes the descriptions provided can differ a bit, or one can offer more insight than the other. Besides, at less than a dollar plus shipping here, you can probably afford to buy both. I've known of writers to use both for information.
Literature Teacher's Book of Lists
- The Literature Teacher's Book of Lists - When you begin studying language arts seriously, lists are your primary tool for improvement. The subject area lends itself to list study as you will be able to answer more questions by knowing what author wrote what book. Learning characters, plots, contexts, etc. definitely has its place. To become a great language arts player it is a must, but first tackle lists with a book like this one. It provides lists by country, genre, and literary format. It is worth the money at around a dollar plus shipping for the older version shown here.
Masterpieces of World Literature
- Masterpieces of World Literature - by Frank Magill. This should be your first jump into the depths of literature when preparing yourself as a language arts specialist. With 270 of the most asked about novels in world literature, you can begin learning plotlines and characters with this hardback. As a former coach, I purchased a copy of some books for each player on my team that focused on language arts. This is not one of those books. While it would be great for each of them to have a copy, it is a little more expensive than some of the others above. You can usually find one here for under twenty dollars plus shipping. While in comparison this sounds expensive, the cover price is $55.00.
Shakespeare 101
- Sparknotes 101 - Shakespeare - by Sparknotes Editors. The more you know about Shakespeare the better. The most frequently asked works are his. While this does not include the bard's full works, it does include summaries, character analyses, and the contexts in which each play and sonnet is written. At less than four dollars plus shipping used here on Amazon, it is a must!
Men of Mathematics
Men of Mathematics - by Eric Temple Bell. While knowing how to do mathematics, especially being able to do so quickly, is important for quick recall, for longer question formats such as NAQT or ACF, the history of mathematics is far more important. This book begins with the mathematicians of ancient Greece and continues through the early part of the twentieth century. While not all-encompassing by any means, it includes most major mathematicians and around fifteen to twenty pages of information about their lives and contributions. A good buy here at around three dollars plus shipping.
Math Teacher's Book of Lists
The Math Teacher's Book of Lists - by Gary Robert Muschla and Judith A. Muschla. From number theory to calculus to the history of mathematics, this book covers all aspects of mathematics. The book is written in list form, which is atypical for mathematics, however the underlying concept can usually be learned from it. From a book like this, there are two main ideas to take away. First, learn the history of mathematics. Second, a math player can use this book to find out what areas they should be studying. Sometimes the most difficult part of studying math is that there are so few resources outlining what material you should focus on. This helps do just that. If you learn all of the concepts you should have a pretty strong foundation. This can be purchased here for around fifteen dollars with previous editions going for under ten plus shipping.
The Math Book
The Math Book - by Clifford Pickover. Creatively named, this book covers what the author feels are the 250 most important discoveries/problems in mathematics history. This is excellent because in deeper formats (NAQT, ACF, etc.) the questions that appear on the history of mathematics will usually go one of two ways. It will either provide details of a mathematician's most famous and important contributions, which would be likely to appear in a match, or it will focus on the discovery itself. Each of the 250 is given a one page description, so while it does not cover each as thoroughly as it could, this book provides the reader with precisely what they need for quiz bowl use without getting bogged down in the details. Unfortunately this is a relatively new book so copies are usually going to run you just under twenty dollars plus shipping here whether new or used.
Precalculus Demystified
Precalculus Demystified - by Rhonda Huetenmueller. While most long question formats do not include, or include very little, computational mathematics, many quick recall formats do. Thus, this book would come in handy as pre-calculus and algebra two are the sub-topics that usually come up in these types of problems. Of course, one could always just seek out a textbook from these classes, but if a student is trying to accelerate themselves beyond their current course, they may need a text to take home and this is a good one. There are many other types of books that are similar and feel free to substitute. What you are looking for is a book that clearly outlines the "how to" on problems. Usually, this book can be purchased here for under seven or eight dollars.
Science Desk Reference
Scientific American: Science Desk Reference - The best science resource out there, it has chapters on every major branch of science. Each chapter ends with a chronology of the branch, biographies of its major contributors, a glossary, and a recommended further reading section. Prior to that, there are lists and descriptions of important information within the branch. Definitely get a copy of this book! You can usually do so here for under a dollar plus shipping.
The Science Teacher's Book of Lists
The Science Teacher's Book of Lists - This book is exactly what it says, a book of lists. I find that most of the lists that are included here are relevant to topics that come up typically in an academic team or quiz bowl match.The descriptions contained in the lists are relatively short, so do not expect a lot of depth of knowledge to be gained by its use, but that is the nature of lists in general. This is strongly recommended as a complement to the above Science Desk Reference which does provide a little more depth than a standard list book. You can purchase a copy here for under ten dollars plus shipping.
Great Scientists
Great Scientists - When trying to establish yourself as a strong science player, learning the major scientists is usually a good place to start. Learning what made each famous will help build a foundation in the subject. Also, many science questions will contain the name of the person that made the discovery or carried out the experiment. Included here are thiry-one scientists, accompanied by their major discoveries and a description of their scientific contributions. You can purchase one here for around six to eight dollars.
Dictionary of Earth Sciences
Dictionary of Earth Sciences - by Oxford University Press - Every good science player needs a dictionary to serve as a reference. Within their study and research they will come across words/phrases/acronyms with which they're not familiar with. Using a dictionary such as this one allows one to easily look up and learn what they don't already know, and isn't that the idea? While this dictionary only focuses on the earth sciences, it is very thorough in the areas it attempts to cover. It can be purchased here for around a dollar plus shipping.
Dictionary of Science and Technology
Dictionary of Science and Technology - by Academic Press - Another Dictionary, but with a broader base of science subtopics covered. Again, it's not meant to be fun reading. Instead, dictionaries are to be used as a much needed reference source. The best use of these is to look up important words or phrases in quick recall questions that are missed, both in matches and practices. This book can usually be found here for under ten dollars plus shipping, which is pretty good considering its cover price is $166.00.
The Scientific 100
The Scientific 100: a Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present - by John Simmons. This book contains four to five page biographies on the scientists the author believes to be the most relevant in history. This is one of the better books you can use to learn scientists. It covers almost all material that could come up in a quick recall question, while also providing the depth that could show up in an NAQT or ACF format. While you will come across other scientists in your academic team career, you will undoubtedly score a lot of points with the knowledge you gain from this resource. On top of all that it can be purchased here for under eight dollars plus shipping. From time to time you'll find some for under a dollar so keep an eye out.
100 Scientists Who Shaped World History
100 Scientists Who Shaped World History - by John Hudson Tiner. A similar book to the scientific 100, though it presents each biography in a single page. The biggest difference betweeen the two is that this book organizes its subjects along a timeline rather than by importance. This gives you a better feel for what was accomplished when in relation to each other. Beginning with Pythagoras and ending with Stephen Hawking, it too includes all of the major, relevant scientists. This is a relatively small book and can be purchased here for under three dollars plus shipping.
Social Studies Teacher's Book of Lists
The Social Studies Teacher's Book of Lists - by Ronald Partin. While you probably don't need to know "Fads and Fancies" of each decade in the twentieth century, there are so many lists here in subtopics from American history to psychology to geography that this book is strongly recommended. If you can imagine a list from one of these areas, this book will probably have it. Not a book for building depth, but I have always said you need to know what to research before you can research it. This book gives you the surface knowledge you need, that later on you can explore further. While at the time of this writing the only copies available here were over fifteen dollars each used, you can check back over time or look at older editions to find one in a better price range.
American History Teachers Book of Lists
The American History Teacher's Book of Lists - by Fay Hansen. Beginning with a series of lists on the pre-colonial period, this book runs the gamut of American history. It also includes sections on the arts in America, economics, sociology and pop culture. If playing in the U.S., which I suspect most of you are, American History is going to be a good portion of the social studies questions asked. Thus, this is a good place to start when building knowledge on the subtopic. You can usually find a copy for under five dollars plus shipping here. At that price, it is a good by for a team's or player's library.
A Dictionary of Twentieth Century World History
A Dictionary of Twentieth Century World History - This book is a must have for any team. While it does focus its information on the twentieth century, it covers the timeframe in full. While it refers to itself as a dictionary, the amount of content provided falls somewhere closer to an encyclopedia, while not quite providing a full page of material. A good reference source for missed social studies questions, the geography it provides, in particular, is excellent. Move quickly past the new copies offered at over one hundred dollars here, and purchase yours for under five dollars plus shipping.
Atlas of World History
Atlas of World History - Every social studies player should have access to an atlas. Assuming that your team can get to one in your school's library or that you own one already, this book will compliment your atlas by putting places in the context of the events that occurred throughout history. While from time to time you will see a uniquely geography question, most give reference to some event that took place or some person from the region. Another thing I like about this atlas is that with some of its maps you can see transitions, such as the movement of industrialization or migration. In comparison to others listed above, this one is a little more expensive, so consider purchasing a team copy only. You can find it here for under twenty dollars plus shipping.
Art Teacher's Book of Lists
The Art Teacher's Book of Lists - by Helen D. Hume. The Section on 100 paintings, sculptures, buildings, art objects, and photographs makes this book worth purchasing by itself. However, Ms. Hume goes well beyond this with a full timeline on art and culture and a series of lists outlining the greatest artists of all time. Understand that this is a book of lists and thus provides minimal depth of knowledge but can instead serve as a "what to research" resource. The icing on the cake is the chapter on architecture. For the amount of material it offers for you and your team, it is a great buy at around ten to fifteen dollars plus shipping here. Keep an eye out though, as you may find cheaper copies (especially in the "other editions" section) from time to time as well.
100 Artists Who Shaped History
100 Artists who Shaped History - by Barbara Krystal. From Phidias to Warhol, this book consists of 100 single-page biographies on the greatest artists in history. While you will not find every clue that a quiz bowl question could include within the single page, this book does provide a quick rundown on the importance of the artists, including a mention of their most famous works. For the cost, it's well worth the buy, especially when you consider that over two thousand years of great artists are covered. You can usually find them here for under two dollars plus shipping.
A Brief History of Painting
A Brief History of Painting - by Roy Bolton. This book is divided into chapters by movement. Starting with artwork of the ancient world and ending with modernism, this book prepares quiz bowlers with the added benefit of studying artists and pieces of art within the timeframe in which they were painted. On top of that, it has a seperate timeline for artists and artwork. An excellent book for research, as it does go more in depth than the previously mentioned works. Only having to pay two to three dollars in paperback is a steal for what you and your team will get out it. You can find it at that price here.
Art: The World's Greatest Paintings Explored and Explained
Art: The World's Greatest Paintings Explored and Explained - by Robert Cumming. Let's go in depth on individual paintings now. This book breaks down not just the reason the artist painted it and what the painting reflects, but describes the meaning behind individual objects/people within the work. For the purposes of quiz bowl and quick recall, this is about as in depth as one can study on the paintings included. Obviously, since it provides information on as many details as it does, this book contains color paintings of each as well. No, you will not find 400 works of art here, but those that it does cover will be etched in any humanities player's mind through studying this. It can be purchased here for around fifteen dollars plus shipping.
Great Artists Explained
Great Artists Explained - by Robert Cumming. Mr. Cumming was put on this Earth to design art books for quiz bowl players. While the above focuses on the paintings themselves, this book centers on the artists that created them. Each selection generally includes an example of the artist's work, a timeline of their lives, and a short biography. This book is just one example of a book that consists of many great artists described. If you choose not to go with this one specifically (as it does only feature 50 artists), find a similar book. Just be sure that it is of high quality and provides good information. This book can be purchased here for under nine dollars plus shipping.
Dictionary of Art Terms
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms - Quite simply, every team needs a dictionary for all major subjects. Art being an important topic for quiz bowl and quick recall, this one is a must. If you are a player, consider getting your own copy as you can benefit, when studying at home, from being able to determine the definition of a term you come across rather than wait until you have access to the team's copy. I also feel that this is a better resource than some internet sites as you can rely on its accuracy and you are getting answers from a consistent source. It can be purchased here for under ten dollars, an excellent price for a reference book of this quality.
Dictionary of Musical Terms
Oxford Dictionary of Musical Terms - Again, you should have a dictionary for every major topic that is covered. Thus you should buy a musical terms dictionary. If you have another that you prefer, then use that one. Otherwise you can purchase a new or used copy for under seven or eight dollars here.
The Lives of the Great Composers
The Lives of the Great Composers - by Harold Schonberg. Time to learn some more in depth information with Mr. Schonberg. He dedicates ten to twenty pages to most major composers from before the twentieth century. Each chapter covers the life and works of a composer rather well. Definitely get a copy of this book as it will help you tremendously with this aspect of humanities. If you do not have one already, use this book to create a list of works by the composer. Beyond that, take notes as you read about each composer and then re-read your notes later. By following these tips you can maximize your return on this book. It can be purchased here for between ten and fifteen dollars plus shipping.
Music: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments and Composers
Music: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments and Composers - by Max Wade-Matthews and Wendy Thompson. This encyclopedia gives short descriptions of the major composers. However, the section of this book that is going to add to your library the most is the part that covers musical instruments. These come up more often in lengthier formats, such as NAQT or ACF, however from time to time an instrument question will come up in quick recall as well. A copy of this book can be picked up for as little as two dollars plus shipping here.
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes - by Edith Hamilton. A classic. There is no better word to describe Ms. Hamilton's book. It covers the important stories of classical Roman and Greek mythology, beginning with the creation myths. Taking a turn, it ends with a small chapter on Norse mythology. Trust me, you will not be an expert on the Norse myths when this is done, however you will have a decent foundation from where to begin researching. The strength of this book as a resource is in the Greek and Roman myths. If you want to call yourself a humanities player, you have no choice but to read this book in full at some point in your career. It can be purchased here for under a dollar plus shipping.
100 Characters from Classical Mythology
100 Characters from Classical Mythology - by Malcolm Day. Edith Hamilton's Mythology tells the stories of Greek and Roman mythology. Mr. Day uses this book to focus instead on the characters of those stories. He devotes a page to each character but he covers almost all characters one would come across in these stories. The other aspect of this book that you don't see in many others is a well drawn out "family tree" of the gods and goddesses covered. Titans and some children of the gods are also included. Pick up a copy of this book for between eleven and thirteen dollars plus shipping here.
Broadway Musicals
Broadway Musicals: the 101 Greatest Shows of All Time - by Frank Vlastnik and Ken Bloom. This covers over one hundred (one hundred and one in fact) broadway musicals as the name says. Of course a synopsis is provided, but so is a list of the producers, lyric writers, etc. Many questions include a series of songs from the show. Since the more obscure songs are offered early in these questions, knowing them can give you a huge jump on the competition in NAQT and ACF formats. This book includes a full list of the songs in each musical. Get a copy of this book here for under four dollars plus shipping.
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