How Reading the Great Books Can Help You Win $10,000

Any doubts about the “practicality” of my plan to read through the Great Books in seven years were laid to rest forever last night when it played an important role in winning $10,000 for my university.

I was part of an impromptu team drafted by our public relations people to take part in a trivia competition hosted by a nonprofit organization called Impact Alabama. More than a dozen teams from different organizations in the area were competing on behalf of local charities for a $10,000 prize. Our six-man team went through several rounds of questions dealing with everything from Shakespeare to the all-time leaders in rushing at the University of Alabama.

At one point we were asked which element besides radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie. If you’ve been following the Great Books reading plan I’ve been tracking on this blog, you know the answer is polonium. No one else on the team knew the answer, but that piece of knowledge from the Great Books got us five points in the competition. At the end of the evening, we won the competition by a margin of three points.

So were the Great Books solely responsible for our victory? Of course not. Each member on the team contributed key answers at critical moments in the competition, and we needed them all to win. But without the Great Books, we wouldn’t have come out on top.

Now our library has $10,000 towards a new technology center for our students, and I may insist that a set of the Gateway to the Great Books be prominently displayed near the entrance!

[This post was originally published on this site’s parent blog, The Western Tradition.]


About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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