Literary March Madness: Round 1

Literary March Madness: Round 1

Posted on March 05, 2018 by Paul Kibala

To celebrate the library's 50th anniversary last year, we left it to the readers in our community to choose their favorite book from the past 50 years.  Winning in a close match-up against Slaughter-house FiveThe Kite Runner pulled off the upset to become victorious.  We're switching it up a bit this year, and asking you to choose your favorite book from the past five years.  See the match-ups below, along with a brief description of what each brings to the table.  Please follow this link to vote online: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1yTSHosL5hNYbnjyqbAaBmCOlK755JLJdMdNalxvZz3o/edit.  Enjoy! 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee vs Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Lee will try to prove that Watchman is more than a legacy pick as she seeks to stave off first round defeat from Ng’s excellent debut novel about a Chinese-American family living in small-town Ohio.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates vs The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Both of these books seemed to take the country by storm in 2015.  Hawkins’ thriller was a whodunit page-turner that you could easily get lost in for hours, while Coates’ meditation on race and American society was meant to be contemplated and pored over.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi vs Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death is up against a work of fiction whose protagonist stared death in the face with courage and ambition.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead vs The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The loosely fictionalized depiction of the often harrowing journey along the Underground Railroad mirrors Tartt’s realistic rendering of the exciting world of the underground art scene.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance vs A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
It’ll be tough to choose between two books that have so much heart, so much affection for their subjects.  Thread follows the lives of the Whitshanks family, complete with all their laughter, triumphs, jealousies, and disappointments.  Elegy is a memoir of colorful characters from Appalachia and their struggles to survive repeated economic downturns.  
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult vs The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Picoult has her finger squarely on the pulse of modern American society, while Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. 
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi vs Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
These works of fiction have a very keen awareness of their characters’ place in the world and how their current and future actions are largely shaped by the past.  These books feature frequent time jumps to give us a better sense of ourselves through the connection between past, present, and future.   
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney vs Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Moriarty’s domestic thriller, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed HBO miniseries, takes on a wonderfully perceptive four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.
Artemis by Andy Weir vs Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Moyes new book featuring her iconic heroine of Me Before You and After You is up against one of the few entries to incorporate heavy science fiction themes and plot lines.  Artemis is the latest futuristic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Martian.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate vs The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
I’ve found that these entries have something in common from a personal standpoint in the sense that I have read neither book, yet I’ve heard from countless patrons and literary reviews that they’re top-of-the-line works of fiction.  Enjoy!
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff vs Yes Please by Amy Poehler  
With stunning revelations and multiple threads in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love art creativity and power that is unlike anything that has come before it.  Not to be outdone, Poelher does much of the same in her best-selling reflection on the path to stardom from very humble beginnings. 
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown vs Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
These books provide exceedingly different takes on important event and figures from American history.  Brown the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.  While Saunders uses the lens of historical fiction to reimagine Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with his son Willie.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline vs The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Both works challenge readers to consider the power and makeup of friendship.  While The Immortalists shows how the lives of four adolescents can be impacted by the prophecies of a traveling psychic, Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past. 
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett vs Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Grann’s years of research and compelling evidence builds a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.  Patchett’s novel, an examination of siblings and step-siblings bonded together after a sudden divorce, couldn’t be more different in its sense of family and heartfelt relationships.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr vs My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
This matchup will really speak to what kind of reader you are.  Do you prefer historical fiction or more current works that relate to our everyday lives?
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd vs Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Kidd’s sketch of a winding and heartfelt 35-year-long relationship is up against the sole YA novel in the tournament, a sweeping tale of power, intrigue, and betrayal.   

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