2018 Tournament of Books

The Long List for the 2018 Tournament of Books was released last week. Do you follow the Tournament? It’s a fun and engaging way to experience a book award!  The shortlist is announced in January but the tournament happens in March: each book is pitted against another, bracket-style. Each round is assigned a judge, who decides which book moves onto the next round. The winner is a collective choice by all of the judges throughout the tournament.


Anytime I see a long list published, I immediately set out to read every single book, which is insane. The Tournament of Books has 72 books on the list! That would take me over a year and would cost a ridiculous amount of money because I would have to buy the books, rather than stagnate on library waitlists like I tend to do. Also, when I set unrealistic goals for myself, I shut down and make no progress whatsoever. I usually stop reading altogether because I feel guilty about reading something other than what I “assigned” myself.

So here’s my plan for this long list: prioritize the books that are on my TBR already: Autumn; Goodbye, Vitamin; The Idiot; The Lonely Hearts Hotel; Pachinko; and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Then I will cross my fingers that a combination of those and the two books that I have already read (Lincoln in the Bardo and Exit West) all make the shortlist. Prioritize doesn’t mean actually read them. All right, Katie? There’s no pressure here! (That’s a little psychological game playing, for those of you following along at home.)

I sometimes ask myself why I even pay attention to the book awards, knowing that I won’t be able to read the nominated books or have an educated opinion on the winner. But I read so many backlist books that I sometimes forget to even attempt to stay current and these awards light the fire to try something recently published. I try to stay true to myself and my own book preferences but can’t help pretending that I actually like the books that are chosen for awards. Sometimes I do, but often I find them difficult to finish.

One of the fun things about the Tournament of Books is that it focuses on works published during the previous year. So the March 2018 Tournament is a roundup of “great” books published in 2017. The other book awards usually introduce me to what the critics say we should be reading throughout the year but it seems like The Morning News weighs out all of the choices and picks the cream of the crop from each award. I like that very much!

What about you? Do you try to read all of the long lists too? Or have you read any included in the Tournament of Books? Do you think you know who’s going to win?


2 thoughts on “2018 Tournament of Books

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  1. A list of books is always enticing. I’ve enjoyed following the TOB for the past few years, but I’ve never actually participated in the discussion online. I’ve just sort of lurked. I’ve only read two of these books – the same two you’ve read! 🙂 I’ve got 10 of them on my to-read list on Goodreads. And I’m toying with the idea of trying another 2-3. But realistically I’ll probably only have read one by the time it starts in March! There’s a Goodreads TOB group that really gets into it, and many people try to read as many as they can from the longlist. The TOB longlist is usually more experimental fiction than I particularly like. So I want to see how they narrow it down.


    1. I didn’t know there was a goodreads group – thanks! Like you, I’ll probably only realistically read one more before March, haha. But this one is so fun!


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