Saturday, January 19, 2019

The 2019 Tournament of Books

The Rooster crows anew! Yes, it is that time of year again my book friends! Time for the 2019 Tournament of Books. 

More information can be found on The Morning News website: but in short the Tournament is an on-line book prize using bracket eliminations to pit two books against each other and where the judgments are transparent since they are posted publicly.  The short list was announced very early in December 2018 which gave readers like me a chance to get their library holds in so as to get some quality reading done over the Christmas/New Year break. I didn't make quite as much headway as I had hoped over that period, mostly because I was trying to finish reading Les Misérables and Buddenbrooks before I tackled anything new. 

At the time of publication of the short list I had already read three of the books, I managed to read four more over the break and have since completed another four. Below is the shortlist with my current tally:

Call Me Zebra
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Jesse Ball
The Dictionary of Animal Languages
Heidi Sopinka

The Golden State
Lydia Kiesling
The House of Broken Angels
Luis Alberto Urrea
The Italian Teacher
Tom Rachman
The Mars Room
Rachel Kushner
Anna Burns
My Sister the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Overstory
Richard Powers

The Parking Lot Attendant
Nafkote Tamirat
So Lucky
Nicola Griffith

There, There
Tommy Orange
Michael Ondaatje
Washington Black
Esi Edugyan
America Is Not the Heart
Elaine Castillo

Speak No Evil
Uzodinma Iweala

A Terrible Country
Keith Gessen

The Tournament doesn't start until March so I fee pretty confident that I will be able to complete the short list by then. So far, from what I've read I've enjoyed The Mars Room, Milkman and The Golden State the most.  In particular, I am really glad to have read Milkman since it also won the 2018 Man-Booker prize. I liked it a lot more than I though I would. 

Have any of you read any of the shortlisted books or would you like to? Do you follow the Tournament too?  Let me know! 😃

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Back to the Classics 2019: My List

Happy New Year everyone! I am the worst at making resolutions and sticking to them BUT I have successfully completed the Back to the Classics Challenge ever since 2014 when Karen at Books and Chocolate took it over from blogger Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much.  Below is my proposed list for the Back to the Back to the Classic Challenge 2019

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899. 
Because I can use Trollope for another prompt below, I think I am going to choose Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens for this category. 

20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969.  
I will continue to chip away at the Modern Library’s 100 Best of  the 20th century list. I have 26 titles left to go! I might choose Native Son by Richard Wright since I own a copy. 

Classic by a Female Author.
I think I will read  A Glass of Blessings by Barbra Pym.  I own a copy and weirdly, though I love Babs, I only read her it seems when this particular challenge “makes me” do it. Same with Dorothy Whipple. 😟

Classic in Translation. 
Maybe that copy of Suite Française translated from the French in to English that has been languishing on my shelf for ages? On the other hand, Sylvia at silviacachia is going to host a Don Quixote read-along which would fit perfectly in this category if for some reason I STILL don't get to the Némirovsky title.

Classic Comedy.    
I think I might go for Three Men in a Boat. I have a copy already -are you sensing a trend here?  😃

Classic Tragedy.  
I may have to *gasp* get a book from the library or buy one to fit this category.  I do have a copy of The Wings of the Dove, which I think would probably qualify (as Karen points out in the introductory post, comedy and tragedy are subjective.  But I have never read any Hardy and maybe I should? On the other hand, other than The Turning of the Screw, I’ve never read any Henry James…

Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or end notes.
And here’s where I get my Trollope in. (There was one year where I could have actually read a Trollope for almost every category and I’m kind of sorry I didn’t! LOL).  Either I will read The Way We Live Now or my next in the Pallliser Series which is Phineas Redux

Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages
I’ve got a few from my shelves that would fit here: The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (would work for the comedy prompt too) or The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. 

Classic from the Americas (includes the Caribbean). 
Possibly I will read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I own a copy that I found on the street walking my dogs (don’t worry, it was probably left over from a yard sale…I didn’t quite pick it out of someone’s trash can).  

Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). 
I have to buy or borrow for this category.  I really do want to read more Elizabeth Goudge so I might steal the idea of reading Green Dolphin Street from Karen.  On the other hand, I am interested in reading anything from Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. He has at least three titles older than 50 years and all are published in the beautiful Penguin Black Spine editions…so tempting!  

Classic from a Place You've Lived. 
If only I’d lived in the UK so I could pick another Trollope title. 😁 I might go super specific here and pick Cannery Row since I lived for a year in Monterey, California.  Or maybe I'll read the second Philip Marlow book in the series by Raymond Chandler. Either way, I will borrow the book from the library.

Classic Play.
I think I will pick something from Oscar Wilde again because he is so much damn fun!  Again, I will have to borrow from the library, but that’s OK. I own a couple of Shakespeare’s plays but frankly don’t enjoy reading them. I prefer to see them performed