Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness

Yes, American college basketball is sweeping the continent this month (as it does every March), but that is not the madness I'm interested in. But I am closely following the literary versions of March Madness.

First, of course, were Canada Reads and Canada Also Reads. Very Exciting, to be sure, but not month-long title fights. Enter the Morning News' Tournament of Books.

The Tournament of Books actually got started on March 9 (while I was still deep in the throws of the aforementioned, panel-driven contests) and is now in the Quarterfinals. The tournament features 16 books, which were paired up in round one and then slowly but surely, as books get knocked out, the cream will rise to the top.

The great thing (I think) about The Tournament of Books is that, instead of each book having its own defender, each pairing of books is judged by someone different (meaning, for example, that their are four judges rendering four verdicts on four pairings in the Quarters). It's interesting to get different writers' opinions on the books as they rise through the ranks, and also to see how the judges compare the books they're faced with.

The winner will be announced on April 5, which means this really is about as close to a month-long event as you get in the book world.

Toronto bookstore Type Books has another take on the March Madness, book bracket idea: In their store window they have posted a roster of books (four brackets; each book paired with one of the college basketball teams) and as the basketball teams fall, so too do the books. This contest is less merit-based and luck-based, but that doesn't make it any less exciting. Type Books is documenting the drama both in their stores and on their Twitter feed.

Knowing that there are people with their nose in a book as well as those with their eye on a ball kind of balances out how I feel about March.

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