Now is the time to desperately look for signs of spring. Consider, if you will, a rabbit hole I tumbled down connecting the Easter bunny to the March Hare to basketball layup shots (sometimes called "bunnies") to March Madness, aka the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, which will have pared the remaining 16 teams in the bracket down to eight by tonight. This has all inspired me to create a bookish March Madness Sweet 16:
1. Staff Picks: When I was a bookseller, there were only a couple of years during which a serious effort was mounted to get the staff involved in the subtle art of bracketology. That's probably not a bad thing, given that a recent report "estimates that more than 50.5 million American workers, or 20%, could participate in March Madness office pools this year... time wasted on building brackets and watching games will add up to $1.3 billion."
2. #MagersandQuinnMadness: At Magers and Quinn Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minn., this week "the moment a lot of you have been waiting for" arrived in #MagersandQuinnMadness: a showdown between Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time.
3. Tournament of Books: We hope you've been heeding the sage Twitter advice of Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass.: "If you are not following The Tournament of Books we encourage you to start now! #tob16 @themorningnews. https://tmblr.co/ZchVfw23NUibM."
4. Pizza Madness: It's not all about basketball and books. In New York City, McNally Jackson recently highlighted March Madness at Frannys in Brooklyn, where "the restaurants regular menu will be replaced with a special staff-crafted Pizza Madness menu with fifteen pies (and a calzone) that customers can vote on."
5. Book Harvest: "March Madness, you say? Here are OUR big winners this month!" noted Book Harvest. Among the highlights were Winning Strategy ("Babies need books to learn!"), Parents ("babies first and best teachers") and Winning Score ("Thank you for helping our kids achieve victory all year long!")
6. Tournament of Fictional Places: Half-Price Books is hosting a Tournament of Fictional Places, featuring "64 of our favorite fictional spots from books, myth, movies, music and TV."
7. "Mad Rush to Bookstore": This comes under the category of "headlines we'd like to see every day," though it's from a news report on University of Hawaii fans celebrating a win over California by purchasing apparel at the college bookstore.
8. Catawumpus: Nigel Hayes is back in the Sweet 16. Last year, the University of Wisconsin player tested an NCAA stenographer by introducing a number of words into his post-game interview sessions, including catawampus, onomatopoeia and syzygy. On March 9 this year, Dictionary.com's Word of the Day was catawampus. "I take full credit for that," Hayes said.
9. Giorgio Vasari: Although they didn't reach the Sweet 16, Holy Cross did make a literary impression last week when the New York Times reported that "Coach Bill Carmody took a book with him to read on the long bus and plane rides home after games: The Lives of the Artists, one of the foremost pieces of literature on art history, written by the Italian artist Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century."
10. March Book Madness: Students and classrooms are participating in March Book Madness using the hashtag #2016MBM.
11. Suvudu Cage Match: Penguin Random House's Suvudu.com is running its March Madness-style original fiction tournament Cage Match. This year's theme is Dynamic Duos and features famous pairs from the sci-fi and fantasy canon in head-to-head battles written by acclaimed authors.
12. HCC March Madness: HarperCollins Canada's March Madness is an annual event that features "64 beloved books--one of which readers will crown as this year's champion."
13. Cooking the Books: The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez & Julia Turshen won Food52's annual Tournament of Cookbooks.
14. Meanwhile, in other March Madness News: Booksactually in Singapore held a Lewis Carroll- rather than basketball-inspired March Madness sale, noting: "We encourage book-buying frenzies."
15. These Guys Can Play... & Read: Three-time Academic All-American Marcus Paige, who is a key player for the University of North Carolina in tonight's Sweet 16 game against Indiana, is a "double major in journalism and history, with a 3.43 grade point average."
Pat Conroy playing for Beaufort High School in Beaufort, S.C., in 1963. (via)
16. My Losing Season: It seems only fitting to have the last words come from Pat Conroy, who died earlier this month. In My Losing Season, he wrote: "I have loved nothing on this earth as I did the sport of basketball.... I would not sell my soul to be playing college ball somewhere in this country tonight, but I would give it long and serious consideration. It was only when I had to give up basketball that I began to attract the unfavorable attention of the rest of the world. Basketball provided a legitimate physical outlet for all the violence and rage and sadness I later brought to the writing table. The game kept me from facing the ruined boy who played basketball instead of killing his father. It was also the main language that allowed father and son to talk to each other. If not for sports, I do not think my father ever would have talked to me."
--Published by Shelf Awareness, issue #2718