March just might be my favorite month of the year. Granted, any month might be my favorite month at any given moment, but March in general, and this March in particular, hosts a great confluence of many of my favorite things. Sharing is a favorite thing to do, so it seems fitting to share some of my favorite March things in a series of blog posts. 

Reading. Way high up there on my list of favorite things. From an activity, to collecting, to volunteering, to years of part-time employment, reading/books/literacy has been an important part of my life for…..ever. I have favorite books, and favorite book-related moments, but my favorite annual bookish event happens to take place in March. It it the Morning News Tournament of Books and it started this week. The ToB is a bracket-style system to pick the “best” book of the previous year. Here’s a link to the introduction/explanation of the 2015 ToB that was posted last Friday.

The Morning News people know that it is meaningless to have yet another book award/prize, as they make very clear in their introduction. The ToB award is called “The Rooster” and I believe that once in the last 15 years the winner actually requested a living rooster. Nope, the Rooster is not an important award, there is no major sales bump for the winner. I love it because it is not a closed-door committee that chooses, it is individual judges who must read two books and choose one to go on to the next round. Best of all, they must also explain why they made the decision that they made. After the decision is made, the color commentators weigh in with their opinions of the books, yes, but more pointedly, their opinions of the judge’s rationale for the decision. These are far and away the very best book reviews that I read all year. In fact, often it is the reviewer’s books that go on my to-read list because, clearly, they understand why I myself would like or not like a book. And this is the only thing on the interwebs where I feel like I’ve really missed something if I don’t read most or all of the comments. Happily, commenting trolls do not concern themselves with the ToB.

I wish my book club would have discussions like this. I wish could write and talk about books like this. If you are a reader at all, I encourage you to follow along with the ToB, even delving into the comments if you have the time and inclination. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with the books in the tournament. I had read none of the books in the competition this year before they were announced, though I am now trying to read or at least sample a few of them before the finals. If any of them turn out to be favorites, you might see a review of them in Thoughts from the Back.


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