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Outside Challenges > Tournament of books

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message 1: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) I participated in the Tournament of Books two years ago, was moving house last year and couldn't do it, but I'm back this year. Anybody else do this one? The short list just came out and I've read zero of them so must get going.

Here's basically how it works. It's kind of like March Madness, but with books going head to head:

If you’re new to the Tournament of Books, here’s how it works: Over the course of 18 matches—one each weekday—two works of fiction go head to head, with one of our judges deciding which book moves forward in the brackets, according to whatever criteria matters to them. Along the way, the judges reveal their biases and interests, any connections they have to the participating authors, and, most importantly, an elaborate explanation of how they decided between the two books.

From the eight opening round matches to the four quarterfinal matches through the two semifinal matches—and the potentially Tournament-disrupting “Zombie Round”—our original field of 18 competitors is whittled down to two finalists that will enter our championship match. There our entire judging panel weighs in, each judge picking their favorite of the two final books, and the book that receives the most votes takes home the Rooster.

From the eight opening round matches to the four quarterfinal matches through the two semifinal matches—and the potentially Tournament-disrupting “Zombie Round”—our original field of 18 competitors is whittled down to two finalists that will enter our championship match. There our entire judging panel weighs in, each judge picking their favorite of the two final books, and the book that receives the most votes takes home the Rooster.


The announcement of participating books is here:

https://themorningnews.org/article/th...

And here is a plain ol' list of the books:

America Is Not the Heart Elaine Castillo
Call Me Zebra Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Census Jesse Ball
Dictionary of Animal Languages Heidi Sopinka
The Golden State Lydia Kiesling
The House of Broken Angels Luis Alberto Urrea
The Italian Teacher Tom Rachman
The Mars Room Rachel Kushner
Milkman Anna Burns
My Sister the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Overstory Richard Powers
The Parking Lot Attendant Nafkote Tamirat
So Lucky Nicola Griffith
Speak No Evil Uzodinma Iweala
A Terrible Country Keith Gessen
There There Tommy Orange
Warlight Michael Ondaatje
Washington Black Esi Edugyan

And finally, a listopia with all 18 titles:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...


message 2: by Laura, Celestial Sphere Mod (last edited Dec 15, 2018 12:05PM) (new)

Laura | 3823 comments Mod
I've heard of this before but always have a hard time really understanding it. It seems like there should be a graphic/image depiction of the process.

ETA: Found it! At least the one for 2018.

So the list you posted will start the process in March 2019?


message 3: by Lizzy (new)

Lizzy | 698 comments Thanks for adding this Mindy.
I always forget about it, and then just see the result.
This year I’m going to try to keep up!


message 4: by Milena (new)

Milena (milenas) | 603 comments I've only read one of those books fully, There There. I read about half of Milkman and stopped because it's so boring and depressing. I plan to finish it in 2019, just because I've already invested so much time. Watch Milkman win.


message 5: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (sawphie) | 2920 comments The concept sounds really interesting! Unfortunately I haven’t read any of them 🙈


message 6: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) Laura, that's correct. Everyone scrambles to get the books read, and then the "brackets" come out in March. Then each day it's announced which book advances, there is commentary from judges and readers. I don't totally understand the zombie round, but I *think* people who have read enough of the books to have an opinion vote early on for a book they loved but that they worry will lose. Then the book that got enough zombie votes "comes back to life" and gets another chance in the late rounds.

The challenge itself is simple, though, from my end. Try to read all of those books. :-) With heavy reliance on audiobooks, it's possible.


message 7: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) Lizzy -- yay, go for it! It's fun. All of my January ATY books are ToB books as well.


message 8: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) Milena -- you are a book and a half ahead of me. And you're right, Milkman is getting ALL the buzz. haha Did you like There There?

Sophie, me either, but we have 3 months! :-)


message 9: by Milena (new)

Milena (milenas) | 603 comments I did like There There, but not unreservedly. I thought there were too many points of view, and in the end it felt like the book didn't focus enough on any of them. It could have been longer, or more focused.


message 10: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 394 comments I haven't read any of the books and only one is on my TBR: There, There. I always enjoy checking out the commentary though. There aren't usually enough books that I'm interested in reading to try to read them all.


message 11: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Thanks for sharing this Mindy! I have heard of it but always after the tournament is over.

I've only read one (The Overstory, which I enjoyed more than expected) but quite a few are on my TBR so I will try to make them a priority before the tournament begins.


message 12: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments I've now read 4 from the short list:

Census - Meh. I wanted to love this because of the author writing it as a love letter to his deceased brother who had Down's Syndrome but other than a few beautiful moments this one didn't do it for me.

The Overstory - As I mentioned above, I wasn't quite sure what to expect going in but I really enjoyed this one and it made me want to go hug a big old tree!

There There - I understand the criticism but this one is probably my favorite so far. It was a little difficult keeping track of who was who given all of the POVs but I thought it was very well written and a powerful story that needs to be told.

Speak No Evil - I enjoyed this one a lot as well but wasn't thrilled with the end. Apparently the novel published was salvaged from a more ambitious book that was to include several other perspectives and you can tell something is missing.

I haven't read Milkman yet but I am intrigued by the mixed reviews. There is a long wait at my library and since I have heard very good things about the audiobook I think I am going to to an audible trial and listen to it because I have a feeling it will go far in the tournament.

There are a couple I'm not super interested in and a couple that I'm having a difficult time getting access to within the time frame but I am attempting to read as many as I can before the tournament begins. I also found a GR group that revolves around it if anyone is interested https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...


message 13: by Milena (new)

Milena (milenas) | 603 comments Rachelnyc wrote: "I've now read 4 from the short list:

Census - Meh. I wanted to love this because of the author writing it as a love letter to his deceased brother who had Down's Syndrome but other..."


Good call on audio for Milkman, I found reading it to be torture.


message 14: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) Thanks for the update, Rachel, I really enjoyed it! My progress:

So Lucky -- a strong young woman learns she has MS. I liked it...very powerful and moving and different.

Census-- I second your meh.

Washington Black -- really good story but the ending! I don't need tidy endings but this one didn't even have a messy ending or an ambivalent ending. It just stopped. I still gave it 4 stars, though. Solid historical fiction and the subject matter was unusual.

The House of Broken Angels -- my favorite so far. A shattered family that is trying hard to put itself back together. Beautiful!

I am listening to Milkman and I like it but don't love it, at least not yet.

I'm reading Speak No Evil and it is really gripping and heart-wrenching. I'll let you know what I think of the ending.


message 15: by Rachelnyc (last edited Jan 14, 2019 07:49PM) (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Mindy wrote: "Thanks for the update, Rachel, I really enjoyed it! My progress:

So Lucky -- a strong young woman learns she has MS. I liked it...very powerful and moving and different.

Ce..."

Thanks Mindy! I have So Lucky and The House of Broken Angels checked out of the library and will start them next week.

I finished [book:The Italian Teacher
and while depressing, I really liked it. Interesting story and I love the way he depicted the world of art. I added Rachman's other books to my TBR because I really liked his writing and especially how well developed his characters are.

I am currently reading Call Me Zebra and am not liking it at all. Hopefully something will happen to change my mind but I can't stand the main character at this point.

I have quite a few library books to get to in the next few weeks so I will probably hold off on Milkman until next month.


message 16: by Irene (new)

Irene | 93 comments Even though I only read 1 of the ToB books, I find myself totally sucked into it and spending a lot of time reading all the comments and judgments. Next year I really want to read all (or maybe most) of the books.


message 17: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7030 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "Even though I only read 1 of the ToB books, I find myself totally sucked into it and spending a lot of time reading all the comments and judgments. Next year I really want to read all (or maybe mos..."

I do the same thing and make the same resolution and fail every single year. But I love reading all the commentary!


message 18: by Irene (new)

Irene | 93 comments I am also not known for keeping my good intentions, so let's see next year :)

But tournament of books is really cool and I am glad I discovered it through this group.


message 19: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) Emily and Irene, nice to hear from you both! There is also a mini tournament in summer that might be fun. I haven’t participated at all yet but maybe this year.


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