The Books That Should Have Made the List

One of the best things about contests, brackets, and opinion pieces is the second-guessing game - talking about what should have happened, who should have been chosen, and what might have been. The founders of The Morning News Tournament of Books not only recognizes that, they encourage it. They fully admit that their entire process is subjective and full of errors and omissions, and they welcome other ideas and arguments as part of the bracket process.
So who am I to deny them that bit of fun? I definitely have some opinions already about which books were left off this year, and which ones should win (more on that later). So Aana and I compiled a short list of nominees that aren't on the "official" TOB list, but should be.
Speaking of second-guessing, I'm wondering if I should have allowed Aana to join in on this blog. She selected the books that I wanted to put on our short list, which made me go back to the well. Luckily for her, I read a lot. Otherwise, this could have gotten ugly at a very early stage.
Feel free to second-guess our second-guessing in the comments section below!

The "What Were You Thinking" List of Nominees

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
An Aana Selection
Constance Klopp (based on a real woman) is a hero for the modern woman, who makes sacrifices and sticks her neck out to protect her family. This book really stood out for me because it’s so easy for an uppity woman to identify with the main character. She’s curious, brave, strong, and does what she has to do, but she also comes off like a real person with insecurities and secrets. It’s even more remarkable that Ms. Klopp was a real person who stuck it to the man! I think she would’ve gotten along well with Oreo (of Oreo, a book that was chosen for TOB's brackets). AG

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
An Aana Selection
More historical fiction with strong female characters. I loved this book for its atmosphere. It’s easy to put yourself in the story and feel what the main characters are feeling. Isabelle is headstrong, unstoppable, and heroic. She refuses to be daunted by the horrors of war and throws herself into the fight. In the same vein as Dead Wake (see below), this story shines a light into an aspect of history that most people don’t know all that much about – the women of the French Resistance during World War II. I think we’ll see this book return as a movie in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned. AG

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
A Cheminne Selection 
A good-time girl from the Lower East Side of New York lives the hectic life of a Jazz Age baby, working at a theater during the day, and dancing with a fever pitch at night. But when the Depression hits, she reinvents herself and her neighborhood, helping those who need a hand during the dark days of joblessness and hunger. Decades pass and this "saint" of the Village is hidden in history, until someone finds her diary and starts to uncover who Mazie really was, and how she impacted so many others in a trying time. This book made TOB's long list, but was left off the short list, which I think is a crime. Not to give too much away, but after reading almost the entire short list, this book is better than quite a few that are included on the bracket. Maybe a Zombie round will bring this fabulous book back! CTS

Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
A Cheminne Selection
There is a mountain near my parents' house in Virginia named Bull Mountain, which I confess is the first reason I started reading this book. But the Southern noir, the history of moonshining (which my own family shares), and the mystery at the core of the story were the hooks that kept me reading. This tale of family ties between fathers and sons and the generations of hardscrabble Georgia country folk is gripping and shocking, and keeps you turning pages till the very end. It's a fabulously written novel of how our family history affects us in ways we never imagined. CTS

The "Why Doesn't TOB Include Non-Fiction" List of Nominees

Dead Wake by Erik Larson
An Aana Selection
OK so they don’t allow non-fiction books in The Tournament of Books. But they also used to disallow books by people who write for The Morning News, and you saw how All the Light We Cannot See got on the list (and won) last year. Anyway, I think Dead Wake should be allowed because it’s a brilliant retelling of events leading up to one of the most momentous episodes in modern history. How much does the average person remember from history classes about the sinking of the Lusitania? Probably not a lot, but this book brings it to life and puts you right there on the steamer and in the U-boats. It illustrates what people on both sides might have been thinking and feeling, and makes history real. Not a lot of authors can do that! AG

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
A Cheminne Selection
If you aren't familiar with The Bloggess, go to her website right now. I'll wait. If you were able to get through a single post on that site without guffawing, then you need to see a doctor because something is seriously wrong with your sense of humor. Jenny Lawson on paper shouldn't be funny - she wrestles with mental health demons like serious depression, agoraphobia, and anxiety. But the way she deals with them is through a completely twisted (and spit-your-drink-through-your-nose) sense of humor and brutal honesty. For some, she's a light in a dark tunnel, allowing them to laugh at their own struggles. For others, she's just the funny bomb. CTS


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