Christmas Puzzles Special

Test your knowledge with the bumper books quiz of 2023 and find hidden books on the festive ice rink.


Authors’ Questions

1. Ian Rankin asks: The film A Haunting in Venice was released this year, with Kenneth Branagh reprising the role of Hercule Poirot. But what was the original title of the Agatha Christie novel on which it is very loosely based?

2. Nick de Semlyen’s nonfiction account of Hollywood’s action stars of the 1980s and 90s is called:

3. Mary and Bryan Talbot released a graphic novel this year titled Armed With Madness. It was the biography of which 20th-century artist?

4. Naomi Alderman asks: Which of these is not a recent fictional technology CEO?

5. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Perdix, Philomela and Tereus are turned into what, respectively?

6. Which of these literary pieces of clothing could you put on without risk to yourself?

7. Val McDermid asks: What was the title of Jane Austen’s first novel?

8. What was the first title to feature Richard Osman as a sole writer?

9. Who was the first writer to continue the James Bond franchise after the death of Ian Fleming?

10. Nina Stibbe asks: Which mountains feature in My Side of the Mountain (1959) by Jean Craighead George?

11. In Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel (1974) the parcel contains a live parrot and what other creature?

12. In Anne of Green Gables (1908) by LM Montgomery, what name did Anne give to the apple-scented geranium she saw on a windowsill?

13. Bernardine Evaristo asks: Which of these award-winning novelists started writing her first novel on her mobile phone?

14. Which Jamaican writer moved to Britain in 1932 and two years later her first play At What a Price was staged in London’s Scala theatre? In 1942 she founded the groundbreaking Caribbean Voices programme for the BBC.

15. The lines 'no one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark' come from a poem called Home by which poet?

16. William Boyd asks: What was Franz Kafka’s day job?

17. Which poet collaborated with Louis MacNeice on the 1937 travel book Letters from Iceland?

18. To which Scottish private school did Ian Fleming send the young James Bond after he was expelled from Eton?

19. Anne Enright asks: In Elaine Feeney’s Booker-longlisted How to Build a Boat, Tadhg makes the skin of his traditional currach using:

20. According to Dublin by Chris Morash, John Ryan bought Dublin’s literary pub The Bailey on impulse at auction – he had intended to buy:

21. When Bill Furlong, in Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These, finds a girl locked in the convent coal house, the nuns feign surprise and feed her a breakfast of:

22. Jonathan Coe asks: Which of these landmark events in British postwar culture did not take place on 5 October?

23. Which of these experimental novels is structured like a crossword puzzle and can be read either 'across' or 'down'?

24. Which of these British sitcom writers directed the film version of Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head?

25. Have you been paying attention? Which of these novelist Pauls is the odd one out?

26. What links this year’s Nobel literature laureate, Jon Fosse, with fellow recent winners Svetlana Alexievich (2015), Olga Tokarczuk (2018), Annie Ernaux (2022)?

27. Jeremy Corbyn and Len McCluskey have co-edited:

28. How many of the 20 authors on this year’s Granta list of the 'Best of Young British Novelists' had not published a novel at the time of the announcement?

29. Which late musician’s estate this year auctioned their collection of rare and signed first editions of books, including works by Fitzgerald, Joyce, Woolf, Orwell, Hemingway and Dylan Thomas’s own copy of his first collection, 18 Poems?

30. To counter the threat of AI-produced books, Amazon restricted self-published authors to uploading:

31. 2023 was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Of the 235 surviving copies, 85 are held in one place. Is it:

32. Which 2023 celebrity memoirist instructed their dentist, mid-procedure, to make an auction phone bid on their behalf for a painting by Modigliani?

33. Which of these writers did not attend the coronation of King Charles III?

34. Martin Amis, who died this year, wrote science fiction reviews in the early 70s under what pen name?

35. For what literary claim to fame was writer JR Moehringer recognised this year by Guinness World Records?

36. Say What? Which novelist complained that the England manager Gareth Southgate had been 'quite stuffy about his selection' in not giving the Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden more game time?

37. Which author declared themselves 'horrified' when they heard that 'Piers Morgan had praised me'?

38. Which musician subject of a new biography explained: 'what excited me … was the rhythms of the music, the beats, the feel, the attitude'?

39. Which novelist explained their decision not to use a smartphone for environmental and political reasons: 'So let me get this right: in exchange for the maps you will give away your democracy, the mental health of your children, your own mental health – for a map? I will get you a map!'?

40. Which author who died this year recalled the moment that changed their approach to fiction: 'I suddenly thought, why the hell not have happy endings?'

41. Billionaires and Tech Bros: We learned from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk that he was nearly named after which French city in which he was conceived?

42. A 2023 biography of which controversial tech figure began with the line: '‘I’m not going to lie,’ [controversial tech figure] told me. This was a lie.'?

43. The writer and software engineer David Auerbach this year published Meganets, in which he asked if it’s too late to control big tech. But what innovation is he credited with?

44. In Jane Martinson’s biography of the Barclay brothers, in which room of the Ritz hotel – which they owned – did rival family members electronically bug each other?

45. Guess the Covers: Without their titles or authors, can you spot some of this year’s literary highlights? Which book is this?

46. Which book is this?

47. Which book is this?

48. Which book is this?

49. Right and Honourable: In Nadine Dorries’s book The Plot, the shady cabal that supposedly controls the Conservative party shares its name with a group of poets. Is it:

50. A new book by the TV politics producer Rob Burley is called Why Is This Lying Bastard Lying to Me? Who is credited with coining the phrase?

51. 'Never be interesting': which fellow politician gave the former minister and memoirist Rory Stewart this advice when he entered government?

52. Which MP’s memoirs recounted a background that included an armed-robber grandfather, a mother born in prison and a granny whose mynah birds would squawk 'We’re out, we’re out!' when the debt collector called?

53. To what did Boris Johnson compare Cleo Watson, former aide to him and to Dominic Cummings and now author of the bonkbuster Westminster novel Whips, when he sacked her?

The 10 Books Hidden on Our Festive Ice Rink

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie;

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville;

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis;

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus;

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson;

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman;

The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright;

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens;

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood;

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.