I've Got Letham and McEwen in my Final 4

I am such a slow reader. More than a month, and I'm still making my way through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Nothing against Michael Chabon's book. It's wonderful. In fact, it's a pretty amazing work. I'll describe it more in detail -- hopefully in this week's Playlist. But it's a thick book and finding extended time to get fully into it hasn't been easy.

One scan over the blogosphere, though, and I feel like such a shmok.

People are reading like crazy. There's 52 Books, 52 Weeks where the Largehearted Boy reads one book a week. And even more impressive is the blogger The Crazy Reader -- who is attempting to read 200 books in 2008. Yep, that's right -- 200 in one year.

And if that isn't impressive enough, she's doing this reading while caring for a toddler.

And a new baby.

And she's running a small business.

Oh, and she's blogging daily about her effort.

Which author is Duke?
As if I need anymore reasons to pick up the pace ... it's tournament time! Not March Madness, but the Third Annual Tournament of Books, put together by the Web site The Morning News and sponsored by Powell's.

Here's how The Morning News described the tournament:

... by the next morning we had the rough outlines of something called The Tournament of Books, in which we would seed the year’s most celebrated works of fiction in a March Madness-type bracket and pit those novels against each other in a “Battle Royale of Literary Excellence.” In honor of our favorite character in contemporary literature, David Sedaris’s brother, aka “The Rooster,” we decided to present the winning author with a live chicken.

Here are the contestants for this year's tourney.

Run by Ann Patchett
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
Petropolis by Anya Ulinich
Ovenman by Jeff Parker
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
New England White by Stephen L. Carter
Remainder by Tom McCarthy
The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea by Stephen Marche
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

My prediction? Are you crazy? I've only read one book on the list so far -- Brock Clark's hilarious novel. (See Playlist 12). But I recently took On Chesil Beach out of the library and hope to tackle that next.

Last year's finale pitted Cormac McCarthy's The Road against Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. Find out who won here.

And finally ...

You're going to read more. And you're going to try to read all the books in the tournament. That's a lot of books. How do you store them all? It's worth clicking through the 16 photos in this LA Times feature about home libraries. I'm going with a more virtual book shelf. It's called Shelfari (on right hand side of the blog), where I'll be lining up the books I'm either reading or getting ready to read. If you send me a suggestion to read, I'll add it to the shelf.

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