Friday, January 13, 2012

SHUT the Front Door! Tournament of Books MADNESS!

Did you all hear me SCREAM this morning when I realized the 2012 Tournament of Books shortlist was posted?! I haven't checked the site in a couple of days and those sneaky little Morning News critters got past me! In the last year, this event has become the SUPER BOWL of my reading. Last year I personally challenged myself to read all of the TOB books. While I did not succeed in reading them all, it was FABULOUS guidance, and I'm looking forward to reading even more from this year's list. 

If you're not familiar with The Morning News Tournament of Books, you'll need to start by reading this hilarious explanation. Lots of irreverence and fun here, people. Including a reader judge this year who's serving a year in jail for a non-violent offense. YEAH!!!! Zombie Round voting is also going on, so once you read the explanation, vote for your fave Zombie and get in on the democratic reading action. 

So if you're wondering exactly how seriously I take this whole thing, I'll need to show you pics to prove it. 

These are both pics of my office door taken with my crappy iPhone 3GS (thus, the horrible quality). As soon as I read the TOB post this morning, I started scurrying around the office printing the brackets. I even made up my own Zombie Round promotional flier for the door. If you're wondering if it's kosher to use office equipment for this purpose, I call this PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. I'm a composition and lit teacher for heaven's sake! 

I should also mention that I ran screaming through the office laughing maniacally and exclaiming my joy. I promptly handed out brackets to anyone within earshot. Since my two fellow English instructors aren't here yet today, I took the liberty of posting the brackets in their cubicles. 

So ARE YOU READY to read?!!! You should read with me! You really should! The official tournament starts on March 7th, and I'll be sucking down as many of the following novels as possible between now and then. 

  • Nathacha Appanah, The Last Brother
  • Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (already read)
  • Teju Cole, Open City
  • Helen DeWitt, Lightning Rods
  • Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers (already read)
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot
  • Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding
  • Alan Hollinghurst, Stranger’s Child
  • Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
  • Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
  • Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
  • Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table
  • Ann Patchett, State of Wonder
  • Donald Ray Pollock, Devil All the Time
  • Karen Russell, Swamplandia
  • Kate Zambreno, Green Girl


  1. I saw this list yesterday, and was so excited because I had read some of the books, and am set to read the others! I am excited too! The line up is great this year! Woohoo!

  2. Tournament of Books is so much fun! I don't think I'll read all the books, but I do want to read a couple. The only two I have read so far is The Marriage Plot and The Art of Fielding. Have you read any of them yet?

  3. Heather, I'm excited to read what you think of the books as you're working through your picks! You're right, the lineup is great. Some of the heavy hitters I still want to read (Art of Fielding, Salvage the Bones), and some I'm not so familiar with (Green Girl, Open City).

  4. Brenna, I've read two, too. The Sense of an Ending and The Sisters Brothers were both good reads, even if I didn't fall completely in gushy love with them like last year's TOB contender, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

  5. This looks like a ton of fun and a fantastic list of books to read through (I'm slightly addicted to lists). I've only read one, but have another four on my TBR shelf! This is so much better than that basketball stuff!

  6. Brooke, isn't it??!!! When everyone else is concerned with sweaty ballplayers I'll be curled up with Swamplandia!

  7. I was thrilled to see the list Wednesday too. I frantically printed brackets out before shuttling myself to a two-day conference (crappy timing indeed!) I've read eight of the books already, which made me really happy. I'm working on tracking down the other 8 and am definitely trying to read them all by March 7. Good luck!

  8. This sounds like a lot of fun!

    I've not read any of these yet, so I might join in and read a few :)

  9. OMG, Andi! This post makes me want to kiss you! :-) Now I'm excited about TOB!

  10. Every year I keep half an eye on TOB as it puts me in touch with US books that haven't been published in the UK yet. I haven't heard of Green Girl at all. The only one I've read so far is Swamplandia, which I enjoyed very much. Still, I preferred Karen Russell's short fiction. :-) Good luck with your reading.

  11. Love this time of year and this whole exercise despite not usually enjoying these contesty to-dos. Think I will try and read more of the titles this year to increase the fun.

  12. What fun and I think it is totally cool that you have posted the brackets on your door--a nice way to promote literacy! I have followed this in the past but never tried to read along--I think I will at least be looking the books up that I am not familiar with and try and read a few. I have just started The Sense of an Ending by the way--saw your post and decided I would indeed try it! Have fun reading.

  13. I haven't read any, but a there are a bunch I've been wanting to! I'd MUCH rather follow this than some silly basketball tournament. This is the time of year I really hate that I work with a bunch of guys. LOL

  14. So I feel like I've been in a cave or something because this is the first I've heard about this event! I am off to check out the website, but the list of books looks terrific, and includes a few I have on my TBR stack right now.

  15. Three things:

    1) I have the exact same owl notepad.
    2) I read the hilarious explanation and I still don't totally get it, but it sounds like fun anyway.
    3) Haven Kimmel is one of the judges??? I kind of totally love her.

    So, what book are you reading first?

  16. I don't think I've ever seriously paid attention to the Tournament of Books before, other than when people post about it on Twitter. But if it makes you scream, then I will have to investigate :) The list you posted is full of awesome books.

  17. Carrie, you have a great head start on reading these books. It looks like I'll be doing some purchasing because the waiting lists at the library are horrendous.

    Looking forward to your thoughts if you get around to these, Sam!

    LOL, Natasha! I was a little surprised at my own reaction, but I love love love this event.

    Thanks, Victoria! Swamplandia is high on my list -- especially since I can download it from my library. I've never read any of Russell's short fiction, but I love short fiction, so that might go on my wishlist as well.

  18. Frances, I just love the humor involved in this one. They have genuinely good and interesting book picks, but the attitude of The Morning News and TOB are really what keep me enthralled.

    Danielle, I'm excited for your thoughts on The Sense of an Ending!!! And I've been really surprised at how many comments I receive on the poster on my door. Students, faculty, everyone pretty much knows about The Tournament of Books at my workplace now! ha!

    Heather, now every time the guys mention March Madness, start talking about books! They'll think you've lost your mind and they might even shut up. lol

    BookGirl, I'm excited FOR YOU that you're just finding out about this tournament. SO MUCH FUN!

    Emily, love me some owls!!! You'll start to get it as it goes on in March, and I'm not sure what to read first. I'll probably dive into one of the books I can download from my library's Overdrive system: Swamplandia or The Tiger's Wife.

    LOL, Kim! I heard that from a couple of co-workers on Friday. "If you're this excited about it, Andi, I'm excited about it!" Tooootally worth it!

  19. This year is the year I finally get around to reading some of these. I always figure I'm doing fairly good if I OWN several on the list but have yet to read any of them!

    Have fun!

  20. Wow. I guess I've been under a rock for eight years. I'm sure I've seen your posts about the Tournament of Books, but have never attempted to read from the list. This year will be different, as there are many on that list that I've heard great things about (The Art of Fielding, The Marriage Plot, The Sense of the Ending, The State of Wonder, The Tiger's Wife,The Cat's Table, Salvage the Bones, and 1Q84, which I'm already reading). I love lists and I love having something like this to motivate me to read some highly regarded novels. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Andi.


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