Video: The Tournament of Books Long List is Here!

Watch this video about the Tournament of Books long list and others on my Read Remark booktube channel on YouTube.

I get so excited when it’s Tournament of Books time!

The Morning News starts by putting out a long list of their year’s favorite books.

In early 2018, they’ll narrow it down to a short list of those contenders, then pit them against each other, bracket-style. All the while, we the audience play along, make our own brackets, and predict who we think will be the ultimate winner in the battle of the books.

I was strategic this year and tried to read books I thought might make it to the Tournament of Books long list, but still came up waaaaaay short.

Here are reviews of the books I’ve read that made it to the Tournament of Books long list:

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Eat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Marlena by Julie Buntin

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

I’m really surprised at what didn’t make the list. Here are a few I was positive would be on this year’s long list that aren’t.

Surprisingly absent from the long list:

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (does the ToB include nonfiction?)

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, since they usually include at least one completely of-the-wall book

Woman No. 17 with Edan Lepucky’s morally ambiguous characters

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel or If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo since these both handle a hot topic with sensitivity and relatable characters

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas’s excellent and heartbreaking look at the Black Lives Matter movement

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng; in addition to handling a number of themes, it’s just a darn good story

The Heart’s Invisible Furies which, like Nathan Hill’s The Nix, is a long and sweeping novel that encompasses a changing time and nation through one or two characters’ narratives

The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller, delving into the life-altering and often fruitless effect of trying to find meaning from war.

I’m going to be bold and make some short list predictions.

Here are books I think will make it to the Tournament of Books short list. I don’t have an exact number listed here, because math. They’re not necessarily my favorites and I haven’t even read all of these yet. Rather, they’re predictions on what I think will be the overwhelming favorites of the panel.

Shortlist predictions:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Inventive, heart-wrenching, and genre-bending account of the death of Abe Lincoln’s son, mixing fiction and nonficiton. A little chaotic for my taste; I prefer Tenth of December. Still a creative outing, though, deserving of praise.


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Though I haven’t read this one yet, I keep hearing wonderful things about this story that follows several generations of a Korean family. Looking forward to taking it on.


Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

This strange and unsettling short novel shows a child who is not quite…right. The book jumps back and forth in time, is somewhat dream-like, and refuses to let the reader get any sense of bearing. Like the narrator, we too are confused.


The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Friends weather turbulent relationships, careers, bouts of self-destruction, and manic blasts of creative genius. To call it a book about deep and enduring friendship feels trite, but at its core, that’s what it is. Think Beaches mixed with Ab Fab.


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

While not the same story at all as Delicious Foods, this heartbreaking story is reminiscent, dealing with drug-addicted mothers, their shady drug-addicted peers, and the fallout for their children.


The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers beautifully shows issues surrounding immigration, cultural identity, and addiction recovery. But really, it’s just a story about a boy who misses his mom.


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

I’m still waiting for the magic of this book to hit me, but I’m not deep enough into the story yet to have caught it. This prediction is based so far on reader reviews. Authors, in particular, seem enamored with this book.


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This collection of stories by Machado has shown up on several “best of 2017” lists and seems to be a natural entry in the ToB short list.


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Bits of fantasy mixed with harsh realities, Exit West follows a young couple as they escape their war-torn country to new frontiers. It’s poignant when you think about real-life people in that situation, driven from their homes, never knowing where one door will lead.


The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

Two women, neighbors and widows, hate each other. This book has gotten a lot of raves and seems a shoo-in for the ToB short list.


Eat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter

This stark character study of a man on a downward spiral deserves its spot on the short list. It’s unrelentingly honest without relying on Hollywood hugs or cathartic and strangely eloquent monologues.


OK, I have some serious reading to do. I’ll check back in with you all when the shortlist comes out!