Tournament of Books 2016 | Prepping, Planning & Strategizing


It’s the most wonderful time of the (reading) year! I’ve been looking forward to the Tournament of Books 2016 since the end of last year’s competition! It’s essentially an excuse to hunker down, read a bunch of great fiction, have engaging bookish chats and ignore basketball completely during the month of March! (Or all the time — and all sports — if you’re me).

When the long list was announced in December, I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me, as I had only read three and DNF’d one of the 86 titles. I have been biding my time, and managed to read 1.5 more from the long list while impatiently waiting… and finally The Morning News announced the line-up for this year’s ToB! (And wouldn’t you know it, neither book I selected to read ahead from the long list made the final cut).

Ban En Banlieueby Bhanu Kapil

Bats Of The Republicby Zachary Thomas Dodson

The Book Of Aronby Jim Shepard

Fates And Furiesby Lauren Groff

The Invadersby Karolina Waclawiak

A Little Lifeby Hanya Yanagihara

The New Worldby Chris Adrian & Eli Horowitz

Oreoby Fran Ross

Our Souls At Nightby Kent Haruf

The Selloutby Paul Beatty

The Story Of My Teethby Valeria Luiselli

The Sympathizerby Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Tsar Of Love And Technoby Anthony Marra

The Turner Houseby Angela Flournoy

The Whitesby Harry Brandt/Richard Price

Avenue Of Mysteriesby John Irving

A Spool Of Blue Threadby Anne Tyler

Last year I was able to read eleven (and DNF one) of the 16 books. This year I’m going to do my best to get to as many as I can, but will unlikely be able to get to them all. So far I’ve read two (which will decrease to one if Irving beats out Tyler for the play-in title). There are several I’m more looking forward to than others, which I will prioritize first, and then see how the library holds situation goes from there.

Will you be joining in on the ToB16 fun?


  • They kind of threw me for a loop this year! So many out of the box picks I’ve read 7, but it still seems like so many to go before March…I’m not sure I’ll get there, but there are quite a few I *do* hope to read. Are any calling to you first?

    • Yes, so many that seem kind of random…. but I’m down. Lucky duck having read 7! Tell me your secrets!!! I’m sure I won’t get there, but I’m going to give it a go and see how many I can squeeze in.

      I started Our Souls At Night yesterday, and think I will like it and it will fly by. I also just checked out Tsar, Sympathizer, and Teeth… so will be at least starting there.

      I’m mourning the exclusion of Sweetland and Cleaning Women, but I guess will just have to get to them later on. Which ones are you going to tackle first?

      • I just checked out The Sympathizer and The Sellout – I’ve wanted to read both for a long time, so I’m glad they’re on the list.

        • Yes, I’ve heard The Sellout is good on audio, so that’ll be my next audiobook adventure. We’ll have to discuss when we’re through.

          • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

            I also heard it was good on audio and it’s in my wish list. Look forward to hearing what you think!

  • Kate

    So my book-buying ban pretty much rules me out of the ToB this year (although I’ve read two and have a further four in my TBR stack…) but I’m already pencilling it in the reading schedule for 2017.

    • Yes, play along next year! It does require a bit of planning, I find… and I requested hardly any ARCs during this time so I can focus on the Tournament. I never seem to pick the right books throughout the year, and end up having to try and squeeze a bunch in down to the wire!

  • So many great books on this list! I’m not really planning to read them all or any of them specifically for that matter, but some of these are already on my TBR and the TOB pick will definitely move them higher on the list!

    • It’s fun to follow along anyways, even if you haven’t read all the books. I just had so much fun doing it last year, I have to give it a go again this year 🙂

  • This tournament always looks like a lot of fun, but I will be concentrating on Canada Reads (which also usually takes place in March). The shortlist for CR is only 5 books, which makes it easier to actually read them all. There are a lot of good books on this list, though. Have fun with it!
    (I’d go for Our Souls At Night first!)

    • Yes, 5 is certainly more attainable than 16-17! I just started Our Souls At Night yesterday, and think it’s going to be a quick, compelling read 🙂

  • I agree with Shannon, the list is all over the place. I’ve only read three so far but started “The Sellout” on audio (great narrator) and “The Tsar of Love and Techo” (a book I actually picked up at BEA last year but haven’t read yet). I’m actually pretty excited about this list though because it’s so “out of the box”. Can’t wait to see which one you pick first.

    • Good to know The Sell Out is good on audio, because I’ll likely give that a try as soon as I wrap up my current audio book. I’m pretty excited about the list as well, despite the absence of a few I REALLY wish had made it on there!

  • I’ve read three, so have a bit of a head-start on the project, but I’m still not sure I’ll get there. A few are already on my list, but the book-buying ban (#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks) won’t help. And I kinda refuse to read anymore John Irving, so I’ll for sure be missing at least one. 🙂

    • I am likely to miss the Irving as well… I don’t want this one to be my first of his works… So hopefully Spool will beat him out, and then I won’t have to worry about it 🙂

      • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

        Oh, agreed. Much better places to start (she says, not even having read this one). I loved some of his early stuff (Garp, Owen Meany), but went to one of his readings several years ago and he was a pompous ass, so I’m kinda down on him since then. I know, petty, but his stuff had gotten a bit weird by then anyway. Weird for me, that is.

        • My in-laws have been trying to get me to read Owen Meany for years… which I definitely will one of these days.

          • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

            It’s definitely my hands-down favorite of his and the only one I still have on my shelves and will never get rid of. But no pressure. 😉

  • I don’t read for the TOB, but I always like to follow along. The discussions and comments are always worth reading, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what people have to say about Ban En Banlieue. I read Our Souls at Night, DNF’d A Spool of Blue Thread, and have The Story of My Teeth to read. I think that’s closer than I’ve ever been to the shortlist. 🙂

    • Yes, Ban En Banlieue is proving difficult to track down! I might have to see if my local indie book store can order it for me! I started Our Souls At Night yesterday, and am liking it and think it will be a quick quick read.

  • It’s finally here! I’ve read three that are on the list and have two others on my backlist from 2015 to read this year. Surprisingly, I only added three more from the list that really appeal to me: The Sellout, The Story of My Teeth, and The Invaders. I’m still a little iffy on The Invaders, though.

    • Yeah there are a few that certainly appeal to me more than others. I’m going to start with the ones I want to read the most, and see where that takes me. I’m unlikely to read the Irving, since I don’t think I want this one to be my first of his…. but we’ll just have to see!

  • In the past I’ve made a major play to read through as much of the shortlist as possible, but since I’m doing #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, I am only really counting on two (that I already own) this time…Fates and Furies and The Turner House. I hope you find some gems!

    • I’m sure the Tournament will still be fun to follow, even without having read *all* the books. Plus, it’ll just give you ideas for the good ones to add, without wading through the less good ones 😉

      • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

        I kinda wish they took more time working through the books so we could, too. Although Andi and her damn #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is also throwing a wrench in my works. 😉

        • WHAHAHAHAHA! <—evil laugh o'mine

          • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

            I know you do it for our own good. #toughlove

        • Yes, I wish they would release both the long list and the short list earlier FOR SURE. Would make my life easier. I’m just going to try and get as many as I can from the library, which shouldn’t be too challenging, as my library carries all but a few of the more obscure books.

      • So true. I do like my books vetted for me, generally. hehe

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  • JAH

    I’m so excited for the Tournament of Books! I look forward to this every year. I’m going to do my best to read them all. I already own a few. Thanks for this post; I almost forgot about ToB this year!

    • I know, it’s great reading fun! I’m sure I won’t get to them all, but at least if I can get to a majority I will be happy. Good luck on your reading!

  • I can’t imagine trying to read this many books this quickly! I’m excited to hear about them from everyone else though 🙂

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