Tournament of Books 2016

My 2016 Tournament of Books Bracket

2016 Tournament of Books

I’ve been a little distant from the Tournament of Books this year, but I’m going to hop in with a bracket and hope it rekindles my love affair. My effort to read more tournament titles, particularly after the short list came out, was a bit of a failure. I was bummed that some of my favorites from the long list didn’t make the cut (Welcome to Braggsville, I’m looking at you) and wasn’t overly blown away by the choices in front of me. All told, I read 8 of the final titles and I thought the bracket wouldn’t be too hard. Nope.

Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel, by Zachary Thomas Dodson
The Turner House, by Angela Flourney
Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra
Oreo, by Fran Ross
The Book of Aron, by Jim Shepard
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

The bracket was damn near impossible, you guys. Very few of the books I read were up against each other, so there was a bunch of speculation involved. I take my favorites into consideration, but make my choices based on what I think will win, not necessarily what I want to win. Game face!

Let’s be real here, most of the outer brackets were guesses. I’d say I’m confident on maybe two of them (I can’t see Fates and Furies or The Tsar of Love and Techno being knocked out in round one). It never fails that the big, buzzy title gets knocked out early, so I’m hedging my bets that A Little Life’s journey will be interrupted. Never fear, though! I’d bet a ridiculous amount of money that it reappears as a Zombie Pick to hop back in. Picking the second Zombie was super difficult this year (the books are so polarizing!), but The Tsar of Love and Techno is so well loved and such a universally beautiful book that it’s even my pick for the overall Rooster.

If you’re following along, how do you see things playing out?


  • So glad you’re speculating so I don’t have to haha. I wanted to get into the tournament this year, but the book picks were just disappointing so here I am on the sidelines AGAIN. Oh well. My bookstore is doing a bracket with classic books, which is a lot of fun so far.

  • I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to get sucked in to the craziness that is ToB … and yet I’m feeling the pull. I like your choices. But I’m not so sure Tsar is going to take it. On the other hand, I almost never anticipate what is going to happen correctly.

  • OK – is the zombie pick how A Little Life ends up on there twice?! Once getting knocked out by Zsar of Love and Techno and again beating out F&F….just to get knocked out by Techno a second time?! How’s that for karma?! I’m not as familiar with the TOB, so may be reading this bracket wrong.

    Anyway – I recently moved Techno way up my backlit TBR, so will hopefully get to it this year!

    • Ah! You may have answered my question. I’m also not all that familiar with how the TOB works, so it’s nice if you can slip something back in there after knocking it out. I think I’m also trying to move Techno up after reading Catherine’s review and seeing your love for it, Shannon.

      • Yep! So, when the shortlist is announced, they take votes for a Zombie Pick (your favorite book/the book you want to come back) and allow the top two to take those spots. That happened to Station Eleven last year and it ended up winning. It’s a pretty fun way to throw a wrench in things ;)

  • Vasilly

    I’m not following along with the tournament, but I’m interested in seeing how far Blue Spool of Thread and The Turner House go.

  • I’m following along, but I have read so few of the books this year! And, like, by choice in most cases? A lot of these are books that I was aware of but had no interest in reading, which means I’m not as into the Tournament of Books this year as I have been in years past. I read Signs Preceding the End of the World on the train yesterday, and I liked it a lot and got all psyched to support in in TOB but guess what. It was on the longlist. Not the shortlist. I am a dummy. :p

    • Totally hear you on the “by choice” thing. Several of the titles on the short list just didn’t appeal to me at all or I had heard not so great things about them.

  • Ooooooh our brackets are fairly similar!!! (Mine will go up tomorrow on the blog). It’s SO hard to tell sometimes which way the winds will go……. I’m exciting for this all to get going… and am still hoping to read The Sympathizer SOON, as I think it might go a bit far… we’ll see….

    • I’ve checked out The Sympathizer several times and actually want to read it, I just don’t know why I can’t push myself!

  • I haven’t followed TOB much and didn’t make a huge list of those I haven’t read. I tried The Sellout but DNF’d it, and The Story of My Teeth came off my shelf shortly after making its way onto it. Those that interest me from the short list are books I’ve already read or attempted reading.

    • That was kind of my problem with what was left that I hadn’t read…it was either stuff I wasn’t interested in or had heard just so-so things about.

  • Well… I’m already sucking as the play in round went to Blue Thread, HANDS DOWN, this is why I didn’t fill my brackets all the way in during round one this time. ;)

  • It is just the beginning of the Tournament and things are already panning out much differently than I thought. PS – Eight of the titles is not to shabby, Shannon!

  • Care

    I can’t believe how well I did in finishing books on the shortlist – it amuses me that so many decided NOT to once they saw the list – I didn’t even think consider. Odd. Really it became some kind of thoughtless addiction for me. Anyway, I didn’t quite fill out the whole bracket because I didn’t consider that I could guess the zombies (oops?!) place in it. I am still cheering for Tsar and am SO happy for Turner House. I love this stuff. I have read 7 and half way through The Sellout now. I think I read enough of the Irving (first chapter maybe?!) to feel like I read the whole thing. I’m thinking of buying The Sympathizer on audio – what do you think? Should I?

  • The only one of these books I’ve read is The Tsar of Love and Techno, but I hope you’re right it makes it to the end! I loved it so much :)