Announcing the Tournament of Books Long List

I’m not generally big on end-of-year Best Of lists. Most of them are on the predictable side, although there are a few standouts—the B&N Review has some well-thought out categories; The Millions’ Year in Reading series, with guest writers talking about the books that moved them in 2009, is personal and interesting; and I liked Conversational Reading’s list in general.

Tob07-rooster But what I really want? Is a list with balls. It’s OK to overlap with any number of other people—once you stop picking obscure work just for the sake of being the first person to tout it, there’s a finite number of notables in the pool. What you want to do is make them work a bit for the honor. Which is why I love The Morning NewsTournament of Books. It’s still essentially a best-of list, but pushed further: The year’s favorites arranged into March Madness-style brackets and set against each other, head to head, by guest panelists and ultimately the fine and thoughtful ToB judges. The term “color commentary” does not do it justice:

The end of a decade supplies an apex. Seems like everyone is trying to draw together 10 years of political and cultural history to make matters resolve—to hastily survey the aughts’ seismic shifts in case any mountains or canyons appeared undetected in the social landscape.

Here at The Morning News, we say F-that; leave it to our Martian conquerors down the road.

And this year they’ve released their long list early, entirely for our pleasure. The 16-book short list will be posted in January, with the tournament itself taking place in, yes, March. But for anyone looking for some beefy winter reading, you probably couldn’t go too wrong, love ‘em or hate ‘em, with any of the 50 listed. Plus there’s so much material here for all the air critics (like air guitarists, but you don’t need a mirror). I really, really want to see Wetlands up against Inherent Vice. It’s probably not going to happen, but I can lull myself to sleep at night for the next few months writing fantasy matchups in my head.


6 Comments to Announcing the Tournament of Books Long List

  1. Sean Long's Gravatar Sean Long
    December 11, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Now that’s what I’m talkin bout!
    My dream matchup – Lark and Termite v. Let the Great World Spin.

  2. December 11, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I love the Tournament of Books, and I’m practically giddy that they released the long list. Already read some, have others on the TBR stack and library queue…gonna be a great reading winter!

  3. December 11, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Lola and Jazzlyn, 50 paces with stiletto heels, at dawn. Ouch!

  4. CJ's Gravatar CJ
    December 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    This is one of my favorite lists, too, and I couldn’t be happier about this news. Maybe I can actually play along with the ToB, with this much advance warning.

  5. Sean Long's Gravatar Sean Long
    December 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmm, I missed the B&N Review list. You’re right, Lisa, that is indeed a well-thought out list. And I was both surprised and glad to see that the Everyman’s Edition of The Best of Frank O’Connor received recognition in the fiction category. I’ve been pimping that book with virtually no success, even to family and friends in Ireland. Nobody, I thought, cared about or even knew about Frankie boy.

  6. Margarita's Gravatar Margarita
    December 11, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Loved the list – copied it on my book scratch pad. Finishing off The Women, which is long but worthwhile, and have a feeling I will just keep picking off it through the winter. If summer is for beach reading, winter is for “curl up with a good book” evenings! We have another 3 months of those.

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