Talking About the 2017 Tournament of Books

image from The Morning News

After mostly sitting out last year’s Rooster, I’m super excited to see that the shortlist for the 2017 Tournament of Books has hit the internet. Along with that list, the organizers wrote an amazing introduction, which perfectly sums up why I adore the tournament, in part: “What it has been and will be, as long as we’re putting it on, is a month-long conversation about novels and reading and writing and art that takes place on weekdays in March. But that’s not all. Because what also happen is readers freak out, fall out with each other, and fall back in love. Fight over little things, fight over big things, altogether dig deep into what makes something good or not. This is what keeps us going, the point of it all, that together we celebrate the extraordinary act of transferring the human experience that is writing and reading and discussing fiction, and if it’s not clear already, yes, this month-long silly thing is part stunt, part goof, part circus, but we are motherfucking serious about books.”

I lucked out a bit this year, having already read 9 of the 18 novels on the shortlist. Still, I’ve never been committed enough to read every last book, but I’ll aim for those that interest me and likely sit out those that don’t.

Have Read

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Nix by Nathan Hill
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Hoping to Read

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
High Dive by Jonathan Lee
Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Not Likely

All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue
Mister Monkey by Francine Prose

Are you participating in this year’s Tournament of Books? Want to change my mind on any of these ‘Not Likely’ books?

  • Haha – poor Throwback Special. You and Katie are both not interested in picking it up. I did really like it though…I know the football thing scares people, but that’s not what it’s really about.

    But, you’ve read a good number of these already and some were the chunksters – good spot to be in! Hope you enjoy it.

    • I actually started listening to the audio not long ago and had a super hard time with it, so gave it up. Could be one that’s tricky on audio, though!

      • It’s one of those super quiet books that’s 100% dependent on the writing…which I always have a hard time with on audio! But, it also could just be the book! I have a weird fascination with male friendship from growing up with all brothers and lots of male cousins, so the topic interested me.

    • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

      Throwback Special has been on my list for so long. As have many of these others. Sigh. I want to play, but I’m so far behind.

  • I loved the long list this year, but I’m not so jazzed about the short list. Ive only read one of the books. Hopefully I’ll get more read before March. Either way, like you I love a month dedicated to competitive booking.

    • That’s kind of where I was last year, so I didn’t follow as closely, but it was still good to see where things wound up :)

  • I wish I had ready 9 already! From now on I’m just going to creep on you and pick up whatever you’re reading ;) I too am way more excited this year than last, and feel that bit of excitement that was missing last year. Hopefully there’ll be an upset or two, and some good commentary to come.

    • Man, based on just the last two days I’m hoping I get ANY reading done haha! You definitely have a few great ones on your stack :)

  • Ti Reed

    I picked up almost all of these from the library. Seems no one wants to read them. LOL.
    I am most interested in Charlie Freeman.

    • Same! There were definitely a few that were pretty easy to grab.
      I thought the premise of Charlie Freeman was SO great, but didn’t love the way the book kind of meandered in the end…I’m glad it’s on the list for discussion, though!

  • Wow! I think I’ve read more from this list than any other I’ve seen; I feel so accomplished right now. HA! Totally kidding. I had trouble getting through High Dive, but it may not have been the right time to read it; I actually really enjoyed the characters. I had no idea that you’d not yet read Version Control; pretty sure I read it because of you! I did try The Throwback Special, after a glowing recommendation from Sarah’s Book Shelves; it ended up being a DNF, for me, and I’m still a little sad about that. I still haven’t read My Name is Lucy Barton and I’ve got to get it done before the so-called sequel comes out in April – GAH! It’s pretty short, right? Enjoy, Shannon!

    • I guess that’s a sign I need to get to Version Control sooner than I thought!
      Lucy Barton is probably my least favorite book on this list, but I seem to be in the minority ;)

      • Kelly Massry

        You’re not. I didn’t like it either. I’ve read 6/18. Did you read Sweet Lamb of Heaven yet? I seem to remember seeing it in one of your Monday posts. If so, what did you think?

  • The Mothers is the only one of these I’ve read. Of course, I want to say I read about five new 2016 releases last year, so I’m kind of surprised I’d read any of them.

  • Kailana

    All the Birds in the Sky is basically about nature meets science. The overall message was actually thought-worthy. I just did the audio and I think that was not the right method because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to.

  • Nine out of eighteen, you impressive bastard! That’s so awesome, you will be able to have opinions about most of the match-ups, which is absolutely the way to do where the ToB is concerned. Are you doing a bracket?

  • Wow, you’ve a great start on this list! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the others that you pick up.

  • You have read a lot of them! I have read the Lydia Millet book (nice & creepy) and the High Dive book (I wanted to be more wrapped up in the story than I was). Which book will win the tournament? is that how it works?

  • Wow, I feel behind! I’ve only read three. The Mothers and We Love You, Charlie Freeman are on my TBR list. I really hope Homegoing wins. I feel like it was sort of passed over in the Goodreads Choice Awards last year.

  • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

    So, did you get to Sweet Lamb of Heaven? Just finished yesterday. WTF? I’m pretty sure I know what it was trying to do, didn’t pull it off for me. Just…weird.