Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tournament of Books

Although it apparently has been going on for years I have just discovered The Tournament of Books which is taking place March 8 - March 30.

In case you’re new, The Morning News Tournament of Books is an annual book event—2012 is our eighth year—pitting 16 of the best novels from the previous year in a March Madness-style battle royale.

Here’s how it works: Each weekday in March, a judge evaluates two books and chooses one to move ahead. On the final match day, all the judges weigh in on the remaining two books, selecting one to receive our award, The Rooster (named in honor of David Sedaris’s brother). Each day, there’s also commentary from our play-by-play officials, Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, as well as you, the audience. One special note: Just before the Championship match, we have a special “Zombie Round” where the would-be finalists must battle our readers’ two favorite books that were already ejected earlier in the competition.

I finally have some idea of what people are talking about in the office when they refer to brackets, March Madness and moving on to the next round. (What, you don't think that are talking about books?)

While I have only read one of these books, a Sense of an Ending, and intend to read 1Q84, these are certainly books that got the buzz last year and I have heard of most of them. I have been considering reading The Last Brother, The Tiger's Wife, State of Wonder, The Sisters Brothers, Swamplandia!, and The Cat's Table. And I had no thought of reading The Art of Fielding until I read a really interesting article in Vanity Fair about how it got published. But do I want to read a book simply because it got so much buzz? Is it fair to refuse to read a book just because it got so much buzz? I tend to be reluctant to read a book if it is too popular but I usually end up reading a couple. [Having said that, I just had to look and see what I had read from prior years Tournaments. Of all the books in the Tournaments from 2005-2011 I have read 2666, Brief and Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao, The Road, Historian, Cloud Atlas and No Country for Old Men. Of those only Cloud Atlas really wowed me. ]

In any case, this Tournament is funny and amusing and interesting to follow, whether I ultimately decide to read some of these or not. And unlike all those annoying sport commentators clogging up my satellite channels and saying nothing, the running commentary by Keven and John is really amusing. I am really looking forward to the Quarter Finals 1Q84 vs. Tiger's Wife match up (but am afraid my Murakami may get knocked out) and will be interested in the Swamplandia! vs. Sisters Brothers match up. And I predict that State of Wonder will come back for the zombie round but would prefer The Cat's Table.

Post Tournament Roundup:
I really enjoyed following the tournament and checking each morning to see who won the round. After the tournament I immediately purchased Sister's Brothers and added Open City to my Kindle wish list. I will of course read IQ84 and may also read The Tiger's Wife, Swamplandia!, and The Cat's Table. Now I don't know what to read first thing every morning! I guess I will just have to wait until next year.

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