Battle of the Books competition ramps up in Houses


Alec Ostapuck

Books for this year’s Battle of the Books competition are available in the LRC for students to check out.

Joel Domino and Emily Little

Battle of the Books is a local competition where students test their knowledge on a group of books by answering questions about them.
Librarian Sarah Ressler leads Battle of the Books. She wanted to introduce a competition for the so-called “nerds” at the school.
“I am a huge book nerd, I have always been,” Ressler said. “To me it’s really about loving books and celebrating the love of books with other people.”
Battle of the Books is made up of two separate competitions: the House competition at Hayes, and an interscholastic competition made up of teams from the entire OCC.
Some of the students enjoy the competitive nature of the event, like junior and Steamtown captain Eric Gitson.
“I love reading and I’m very competitive, so Battle of the Books is a lot of fun for me,” Gitson said. “Usually, someone else will know an answer even if you don’t, which really helps save the day.”
But it’s not a competition for everybody.
“I am less competitive than some of the other advisers,” Ressler said. “To me it’s really about loving books and celebrating my love of reading with other people.”
Battle of the Books, for some students, is just an opportunity to read books, experience new different genres and meet other book lovers.
“I think the most important part of Battle of the Books is giving students a reason to read a book,” Gitson said. “For me, even though I love reading, it often gets put aside because of having a ton of schoolwork, deadlines and tests to study for.”
On the other hand, teachers get to see their students compete over literature.
“I also hope they will gain an even bigger love of literature by being exposed to the books in the battle,” English teacher Nikki Arnette said. “And maybe a love of trivia as well.”
Natalie Heckert, a sophomore at Hayes, is participating in the house competition for the first time this year.
“I’m really excited to try something new and put my love of reading into competition form,” Heckert said. “My strategy going into it is to read a book or two and read the summaries for the rest of them.”
The House competition uses a list of 10 books, while the students will be quizzed on 26 books for the OCC competition. Some of these include “The Ones We’re Meant to Find” by Joan He, “We Are Not Free” by Traci Chee and “Stay Gold” by Toby MacSmith.
During the House Battle, which takes place in January between Houses, five people from two teams take turns answering the eight alternating questions from the first round. Once the questions are asked, the team captain has ten seconds to answer it. Captains are allowed to receive counsel from their team. If they answer incorrectly or not at all, then the other team gets a chance. Every correctly answered question is worth one point.
Then there is a lightning round, where ten questions are asked and each team tries to buzz first to answer. Whichever team buzzes first has to answer. If they answer correctly, that person earns five points for your team. Answer incorrectly, you lose three points.
Each year, students who participated in the OCC competition get to complete a survey and suggest titles for the next year. “So the list first and foremost comes from students,” Ressler said.
The books are mostly current, with one classic book. There is also one nonfiction book on the list, which this year is “Buzz” by Mary Oliver.
Sophomore Natalie Koschalk said she is excited to be involved in the House competition for a second time.
“I’m excited for the group of people because we have two others that are returning other than me,” Koschalk said. “I have two of my closer friends joining this year and we have a new group of freshmen who would like to join.”
Koschalk also said she would encourage others to join.
“If you enjoy reading it’s a good start to reach out there and find others who enjoy reading,” Koschalk said. “You don’t have to be the fastest reader and you don’t have to read all the books, because reading just one book really helps contribute to the team.”