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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Your Annual Reminder-- The Tournament of Books Starts Today!

This is your annual reminder that the Tournament of Books is beginning today. Every year I repost my explanations as to why it is a fun and valuable RA resource. This is not your average book award and not only because it is a battle between the books as judged by other writers using a bracket system.

With ToB we also get the most diverse list of “best books” you will see anywhere, both diverse in authorship and genre. With ToB you not only learn about great books and why they are wonderful, but you also learn about the judges themselves, also a very diverse group of people throughout the publishing industry.

Each “battle” has a full write up which gets to the heart of the two books’ appeal and structure. These essays give us valuable information on who would like the book and why. Readalikes are also often mentioned.

Oh and the comments. The readers who follow along religiously and have entire discussions about each pairing of books for pages and pages are THE BEST. Following just the comments is like reading a novel itself.

And don’t forget the back list. 13 previous years of backlist tourneys to be exact. Each with their own full bank of the above mentioned information and more! Every single page of ToB has the links to every past year [bottom right].

There is plenty here to make a display for “March Madness,” and The Morning News did all the work for you. You can even print out a bracket for your displays.

Click here for every ToB post on RA for All or see below for last year’s.

Make sure to stop by the ToB site daily for the next 2 weeks to see what’s going on. Also please consider supporting their sponsor, Field Notes. I not only visited, but I also placed an order. [Side note, as the mom of 2 lefties, I highly recommend their lefty notebooks. My kids love them.]


MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017

Fill Out Your Brackets....Book Brackets: ToB XIII Is in Full Swing

Many of you are spending this morning signing up for NCAA basketball brackets and contemplating your choices between schools you have never heard of let alone knew they had a basketball team that was any good. [I’m looking at you Winthrop.]

Seriously though, even people who never watch any sports get in on the fun of “March Madness.” My husband loves to tell the story of his non-sports watching friend who in college filled out his bracket and chose the winners based on whose mascot would defeat whom. He won the whole thing by the way. So truly, anyone and everyone can do this.

Now, I am all for filling out a basketball bracket. It is tons of fun and gives everyone a rooting interest in the tourney, but people we are book experts. Thankfully for 13 years, the folks over at The Morning News have been running the Tournament of Books and it is amazing!

Click here to see this year’s tournament [currently on day 4] and to have easy access to the previous 12 years of tourneys. But first, read below where I have re-posted my comments from last year on why I love the ToB and how to use it as a resource. Yes it is fun AND can help you do your job better.

I would also like to point out that ToB is one of the most diverse best books discussions- both in the diversity of the authors and in the inclusion of multiple genres. And, it has been that way for 13 years; they are not bandwagon jumpers on this issue; they have led by example for over a decade.

This is a hotly contested tournament and conversation between the books and the book lovers. You should follow along both because it will help you to help readers and because as a book lover, this is your big time “bracketology."

Maybe when your friend sends you that invite for the NCAA bracket, you can send them the link to ToB.

And if you need help with your basketball brackets, just do what all of us here in Chicagoland are doing....pick Northwestern.



Today marks the start of the 2016 Morning News Tournament of Books.  The 12th annual! What is ToB?  It is what is sounds like-- a March Madness style tourney but with books battling it out. 

However, it is also  so much more.  

Back in 2014, I wrote a post entitled “Why Your Should Follow The Tournament of Books: A RA Perspective” that explains that “so much more” part a bit better. From that post:
“...if you are a fan of reading...anything...for will love following the ToB. I promise.  If I am wrong, you are a liar and you don’t love reading as much as you think you do. 
Each day they have 2 books from the previous year, so in this case 2013, squaring off in a March Madness bracket style, so that the titles get narrowed down to 1 final winner.  The final match is judged by all of the judges for fairness.  Click here to see the entire 2013 ToB IX. 
There is a judge, normally themselves an award winning author, who writes a long commentary on how the two book stack up against one and other.  Each official judge’s commentary and ruling is then followed by a commentary on that specific match and how it played out by The Morning News editors, Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner.
Here’s why this process is so great for you as a reader.  First, these books are not judged in a vacuum.   All of the books in the tourney have already been through that process and have been determined among the best books of the previous year.  Reading another author’s take on how a specific book fairs when paired with another specific book is fascinating.  Is it unfair? Probably, yes.  Depending on what you are against and by whom it is being judged, both of those factors can help predetermine the outcome. 
But, is it fun? Heck yeah.  As a book lover and reader, I simply adore reading the judge’s commentaries themselves.  Because the matches are judged by award winning authors, I often feel like the commentary they provide to pick a winner reads like a short story in and of itself. Also, since it is so arbitrary, the entire thing both validates and satirizes the awards process-- simultaneously.  I love that too. 
And Kevin and John playing the part of the “regular reader” is great for placing the match within the context of the entire tourney and the larger literary world.
So even if you are not a traditional literary fiction fan, I highly suggest you follow the ToB because doing so is like reading a novel about the best novels of 2013. It is the most fun year in a review you will even experience. 
I even think it is worth going back and re-reading the commentaries from past years.  Why? You will find many good backlist options for your patrons.  And, because the commentaries are so well done, you will gather great appeal information about the titles, making it easier to book talk them to your readers.  And, with older titles, there is sure to be a few lurking in the stacks. 
Wow, that was a lot of “Ands.”  But seriously, the ToB, all 10 years of it, is a gold mine of fabulous reading suggestions, with annotations written for you by other awesome authors.  This is almost too easy!  So start using the ToB as your new RA tool, and keep using it all year long."

Yes, as a book lover, following the ToB is fun. You can root for your favorites. You can follow the commentaries. You can post your own comments.  [Speaking of the comments, side note, the comments are also very rich with useful RA material. There is almost an entire separate tourney going on in the comments. So at least read them, if not participate yourself.]

But the ToB is, as I said 2 years ago, an awesome RA tool.  I regularly use the ToB websites from all previous 11 years to help readers.

Try it for yourself.  Click here for the introduction post to this year’s contest, which includes a run down of what to expect. From that link you can access the entire tournament for this year and every single past year.

Enjoy the tourney for yourself, but don’t forget to also use it to help your readers find their next great read.


Laura said...

Hi Becky,
I thought you'd like to know that the Batavia Public Library (Illinois) is now running its third annual Tournament of Books, inspired by a post you ran a few years ago. The first year we followed along with the Morning News tournament, but beginning last year we have selected our own Sweet 16 of new fiction titles to participate in the Tournament. Our patrons can vote in the library and on our Facebook page--we announce a new match each weekday. We publish and annotated book list in print and on our web page. Each vote is an entry for a small prize away at the end of the tournament. We are slowly building a small following of voters--I get excited every time a new person votes!

Becky said...

This is wonderful Laura. Thanks for sharing. I am going to check it out.