You might remember that I was making a reading list when The Morning News announced the 16 titles in their 2012 Tournament of Books.

Making the list wasn’t very complicated; it amounted to adding the 11 books that I hadn’t already read to my TBR list.

What can I say? They all looked “good”.

I only managed to complete three more and begin two others, but I wasn’t seriously considering any of these five — well, the Murakami, but I was in no rush — so I feel rightly chuffed.

Like I’ve gotten this inside bookish scoop. Which is perhaps the sensation that makes this event so popular.

Next step: the first eight books will be eliminated Wednesday, March 7th, in the bookish Battle Royale.

Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers VS Ann Patchett, State of Wonder
(I haven’t read the Ann Patchett novel yet — it’s on my stack — but I suspect that the charms of Eli and Charlie will be too much for the judge to resist anyhow. If I’m wrong, I’ll pick up State of Wonder next.)

Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding VS Teju Cole, Open City (*see Wednesday’s post)
(I think the humour in Harbach’s novel will appeal to the judge in this pair, although I think the scope of Open City would lead to some really interesting conversations.)

Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife VS Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child
(I haven’t read the Hollinghurst novel, but I attended a reading, and I suspect the judge will be drawn to the interwoven structure and magical elements of The Tiger’s Wife, though it wasn’t one of my faves.)

Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table VS Karen Russell, Swamplandia!
(My guess is that the quirkiness of Karen Russell’s novel will seduce the judge and I agree that it’s charming, though I think Ondaatje’s sophisticated storytelling and crafting offer the reader even more.)

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending VS Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All the Time
(Both books are still on my TBR pile. Though it appears that the characters in Pollock’s novel could totally whomp Barnes’ offerings, it seems likely that the buzz surrounding Barnes work — and he is top-notch — will sway the battle.)

Nathacha Appanah, The Last Brother VS Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
(And speaking of size mattering, it’s hard to imagine that the slender little indie from Graywolf could survive a pairing with the massive and sprawling Murakami novel, but I’m still in the process of reading Appanah’s novel and listening to Murakami’s, so I can’t say how much size might matter.)

Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot VS Kate Zambreno, Green Girl
(In some ways, this pairing echoes the match above; everybody’s talking about Eugenides and Zambreno’s novel is the only one that I haven’t managed to scoop yet. My hunch is that the bookishness and literary-ness of The Marriage Plot will appeal to the judge, but it’s just a guess.)

Helen DeWitt, Lightning Rods VS Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
*see Wednesday’s post for more on these two novels
(Oh my, talk about a polarizing work, Helen DeWitt’s novel is just that, but my guess is that the judge will appreciate the sharp satirical tone of her work over Ward’s openly lyrical, sensory-soaked NBA-winning novel.)

I’m new to The Morning News Tournament of Books, although it’s in its 8th year.

And I’m even newer to the HarperCollins tournament, the HCC March Madness, which I just learned about yesterday.

So where have I been since 2008? Every year since, there have been 64 books, 6 rounds, 6 weeks, and 1 champion.

And somehow I missed all that. And I definitely missed last year’s winner, which is doubly crazy because I’ve read that book more than a few times myself.

There is more potential for direct involvement with the HCC event; you can not only vote, but you’re encouraged to vote. You’re even encouraged to champion a particular book amongst the 64.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: I”m lookin’ at you!

And voting not only involves you, but it makes you eligible to win a prize, which consists of all 64 books.

(Well, see, you mention something like that to bookish folks, and it enters the realm of irresistible, doesn’t it. Which is obviously the point.)

On Wednesday, I’ll post my thoughts about the other three TOB contenders that I’ve read (maybe four, if I have time to finish The Last Brother), and I’m off to vote for Betty Smith’s classic at HCC now.

Clearly I am late to the bookish tournament parties. How about you?