The Method to the Madness

One of my favorite things about working for a public library is the freedom I have to intersect my passions. It's difficult to think of something one could be into (be it a historical subject, a new hobby, technology, entertainment, etc.) that the library cannot help you discover or explore further. Seriously, throw anything out there and we can likely 100% truthfully respond with, "We have a book/program/resource for that!" This inherent culture of learning, connecting, creating, and growing also produces unique opportunities for librarians to work with this in reverse, to take something that is popular within the broader community but not about books or the library at all and...well, make it about books and the library.

And so it is my honor and pleasure to bring you the 2024 Book Battle. A project born of my love for March Madness™, beautifully intersected with my love for books, and also my desire for our patrons to interact with the library and our collection in a new, fun way. 

How It Works

Perhaps you are like me, a huge fan of sports, specifically college basketball (Rock Chalk!), already know all of the ins and outs of bracketology, and are also a faithful patron of LPL and reader of our Adult Fiction collection. To which I say, great! Book Battle 2024 is definitely for you and I hope you love this mash-up of your interests as much as I do. For the bracket uninitiated among you: Fear not. This is going to be super simple and fun. To start, here is your 2024 Book Battle Bracket...

All of these books were chosen based on 2023's circulation statistics that told us these were the most sought after reads of the entire year. Why not books from 2024, you ask? Well, because, it's only March, and folks have had ample time to read these selections, hear about them, maybe even discuss them with book clubs, etc. 

The first round is the Field of 32 and it begins on Monday, March 18th. Each of these individual contests are indicated by the smallest set of brackets. So #1 vs. #2, #3 vs. #4 and so on down both sides of the bracket. (Bracket enthusiasts might be wondering why the bracket isn't seeded. And to be honest, the answer is that I found it too daunting to be an objective one woman Selection Committee.) The trained eye might notice that the left side is mostly historical and literary fiction, while the right side is entirely genres. Books are paired with worthy adversaries in this round, head-to-head match-ups that by the end of the week (March 24th) will leave us with the Super 16. Ballots for each round of voting will be available via Google form on social media, the event on our website, and in person at LPL.

This first round is sure to be the most fun, with the most amount of upsets. I'm particularly excited about Yellowface vs. Tom Lake. Established literary juggernaut Ann Patchett or the rising star with a cross genre cult following R.F. Kuang, who will prevail?! And Emily Henry's Happy Place vs. Ali Hazelwood's Love Theoretically, how can we possibly choose between these two rom-com darlings?! Will Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, the book that set the romantasy fandom ablaze, be edged out by the dark horse, Emma Törsz and her debut novel Ink Blood Sister Scribe?! We won't know until Monday, March 25th, by which time all of your first round votes will be tallied and the books who lived to battle another round will be announced. 

Think you know how this is all going to shake out? For the week of March 18-23 ONLY, blank brackets will be available for you to fill out with your bold predictions. You can print a PDF here or pick one up at LPL starting on March 18. Correctly guess the winner and you'll be entered in a drawing for one of three grand prizes! One of the things that makes March Madness™ such a blast is the unpredictability of the entire thing. While the Book Battle doesn't have the variables of late season injuries, criminally underrated defenses, or bench players randomly getting hot from the 3 point line, the subjectivity of what makes a great book truly great makes the parity in these matchups impossible to analyze. So I believe a perfect Book Battle bracket will be statistically improbable, and even guessing the winner a crapshoot. (You should take that as a direct challenge, as it is intended.)

So be ready on Monday, March 18th. Fill out your blank bracket, vote in the first round, check out the giant results bracket on the windows near New Fiction at LPL, browse a display of the Book Battle contenders, be prepared to keep voting round to round until we have our LPL Book Battle Champ, which will be announced on Monday, April 8. I hope you have as much fun participating as I have had putting this together. LET'S DANCE. 

-Leah Newton is the Readers' Services Technician at Lawrence Public Library.

2024 Book Battle

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