Friday, March 30, 2007

Tournament of Books


March 8, 2007
- The Morning News is doing its annual Tournament of Books. It's a lot of fun. Today there are interesting reviews of Half of a Yellow Sun and Absurdistan...the two books that went head to head in the first round. Half of a Yellow Sun came out as the winner.

March 9, 2007 - Another round...this time between the Echo Maker and The Emperor's Children. The winner is here.

March 12, 2007 - Not a great review of Brookland, which is on the NYT Most Notable List. It went up against Firmin. Check out the results here.

March 14, 2007 - I was looking forward to Round five with two NYT Most Notables facing off (and both books I want to read): Arthur and George, by Julian Barnes AND One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson. They both got good reviews (which made me especially happy because I just purchased both of these books in the last two weeks), but one came out ahead as the better mystery of the two. Check it out here.

March 15, 2007 - Colin Meloy writes a witty and original review to expose today's winner in the TOB. The Lay of The Land faces off against a book I've never heard of - English, August.

March 16, 2007 - A surprise winner today over at TOB. Apex Hides the Hurt and Alentejo Blue are both reviewed for Round Seven. Are the rest of you enjoying this as much as I am?

March 19, 2007 - Hope everyone had a grand back to the tournament. Round eight - whereby Against the Day is pitted against a short, graphic novel: The Pride of Bahgdad. I have to admit, I would probably never read either one of these books. Check out the not so surprising winner here.

March 20, 2007 - We are onto the next tier of the challenge...officially Round Two, Match One. Half of a Yellow Sun came up against The Emperor's Children. I thought it would be a blow away win for Adichie's beautiful book, but it seems the judge actually didn't really like either book! To read the review and see who won "by default" go here.

March 21, 2007 - The first day of Spring and Round Two, Match Two at the Tournament of Books. Lots of people have been waiting breathlessly to see Firmin face off against The Road. From the small amount of information I've gleaned about these two books (sorry, haven't read either - YET), I didn't think it would be much of a competition. And it wasn't. At least according to judge Mark Sarvas. See the results here.

March 22, 2007 - Round Two, Match Three. I'll warn you right now - if you intend to read either of these books you might not want to read Maud Newton's lengthy reviews with spoilers included. Here's another judge who apparently liked neither book too much. Lay of the Land receives a bit more of her verbal thrashing, but One Good Turn doesn't fare well either. Click on over to The Morning News to view the results of this match.

March 23, 2007 - So here we are in the final match of Round Two - Alentejo Blue vs. Against The Day. How can someone really determine which of these two books is "the winner?" They are of vastly different styles. It would be like me trying to choose which I like better: chocolate or reading (I love them both and couldn't possibly choose one over the other!). At any rate, Sam Lipsyte admits to not having finished reading Pynchon's massive tome, but that doesn't seem to impact the judging. Once again there is a fair amount of negative comments for both books. Go here to see the results.

March 26, 2007 - We are in the semi-final round and what a way to kick it off with Half of a Yellow Sun pitted against The Road. I've read the former, and loved it. The latter is on my TBR pile for May. Elizabeth Gaffney admits to loving both books (finally a judge who enjoyed the books!) and having a difficult time choosing the winner. To see her pick, go here.

March 27, 2007 - In Match Two of the Semi-finals Against the Day faces off with One Good Turn. Apparently Judge Sasha Frere-Jones didn't think it necessary to actually read both books. In fact, she'd already made up her mind before reading either book. Does this seem a little meaningless to anyone else? Results are here.

March 28, 2007 - So today is the Zombie round where they resurrect a "loser" and pair it with a winner. The Road vs. Against The Day. You already know which one wins, right? Here is what I've been pondering. How did Pynchon's giant tome make it into the semi-finals when almost no one can even finish reading it?

March 29, 2007 - One Good Turn goes against Absurdistan in the final Zombie round. Rosecrans Baldwin writes an interesting review of these books - one that will likely keep me from reading either book for a long time. To end the suspense, go here for the winner.

The Championship Round
March 30, 2007

And so, The Tournament of Books comes to an end. All the judges voted and the winner has been chosen. I bet 99% of you can guess who steamrolled over the competition to become number one!


3M said...

Thanks for these updates, Wendy!

Wendy said...

You're welcome, Michelle :) I like that the vast majority of them happen to be NYT Most Notable books; just to give us more incentive to keep reading!

kookiejar said...

Refering to the match between 'Lay of the Land' and 'English, August':

Oh man! That was awesome! If 'The Morning News' could get more reviewers like this, they might actually get some national exposure for their tournament. I could read book reviews all day long if they were all as exciting and hilarious as that one.

ps-I'm also glad that 'Lay of the Land' won, because it was a great book.

Wendy said...

I know what you mean, kookie! I laughed out loud at that review. Very creative.

kookiejar said...

Grrr. I really ended up loving "Apex Hides the Hurt". I, for one, demand a recount. I love the tournament. It's better than basketball.

Maybe 'Apex' can come back in the zombie round.

Loose Baggy Monster said...

To be honest, when I immediately finished Half of a Yellow Sun I wasn't in love with it, but I found that it was the kind of book that grew on me long after I was finished with it and wouldn't let me go very easily. So perhaps the judge should have let the two contenders mellow a bit before declaring the final decision. This tournament is helping me feel better about the disappointments in the NCAA basketball tourney!

kookiejar said...

'Firmin' was a great book. That judge has some emotional problem with animals apparently. However, I'm glad 'The Road' is still in it. It's going all the way. Best book of the year, hands down.

3M said...

It's too bad that Half of a Yellow Sun and The Road weren't in the finals together.

kookiejar said...

That could still happen, 3m. Tournament is only in it's second round and "Half of a Yellow Sun" and "The Road" are still in it.

kookiejar said...

I don't think it's fair that he didn't finish 'Against the Day' before declaring it the winner. What if on the last couple of pages it goes directly into the toilet? I've read books like that. Maybe if 'Alentejo Blue' was just awful, I could understand, but it's not (so far). Grrr

3M said...


It looks like they'll be going against each other in the sem-finals, though:

Half of a Yellow Sun v. The Road
judged by Elizabeth Gaffney

One Good Turn v. Against the Day
judged by Sasha Frere-Jones

kookiejar said...

Yup, I guess you are right. I'm a little nervous about that. "Half of a Yellow Sun" is real darn good, but I still like 'The Road' a little better. Guess we'll find out on Monday (fingers and toes crossed).

kookiejar said...

Whoo, that was a squeaker! I thought a woman reviewer might be turned off by some of The Road's more grisly scenes, but it looks like she really got where it was coming from. Onward and upward.

kookiejar said...

I hate that! Why do people bother writing book reviews if they can't be bothered to read the book? This is the second person in the tournament who didn't actually read 'Against the Day' but yet felt qualified to give an opinion about it. grrr

Wendy said...

I thought it was so lame that neither judge finished this book (and one judge actually gave it a "win" without reading it - huh?). If they didn't intend to read the books they were asked to judge, why not say "no thanks - pick another judge?"

kookiejar said...

You have to admit though, this line about "Against the Day" was very funny...

"I, like the judges before me, dreaded this 1,100-page monster. I cheered when it was knocked out in the semifinals; I groaned when it climbed out of its grave for the Zombie Round; then it chomped me in the arm and gave me some kind of bacteria."

I'm tempted to read 'Against the Day' now, just so I can say that I am one of the few people to review the blasted thing after actually reading it.

Wendy said...

LOL, Kookiejar! I know what you mean. I'm a little surprised the judges so readily admit their inability to get through the blasted thing. Even being ill and confined to bed with the flu, the book apparently is just too huge to bother with ... or wait, was having the flu the excuse for *not* reading it? Well, it hardly matters, does it?

Andrew Womack said...

I finished it. I just got really sick and had trouble concentrating.

Wendy said...

Thanks for visiting, Andrew! I'm glad to hear you *did* finish the book (and glad to hear you are feeling better too). This book does not sound like the kind of book I'd readily sit down and read myself.

kookiejar said...

You never know who is reading our little blog, do you?

Wendy said...


kookiejar said...

Wendy, your final link is wrong. Just thought I'd let you know. It goes back to your page (not that there's anything wrong with that.) ;)

Wendy said...

Whoops! I'll fix it :) Thanks for the heads up!