The Tournament of Books is an annual, "March Madness-style battle royale" that pits the year's best books against each other, bracket-style, until one winner emerges. It's great fun, and unlike other book prizes it's super transparent, as judges give lengthy explanations for their picks at each stage of judging.
Plus, the list the list of finalists is a reliable annual survey of "books you should have read." I haven't read all of this year's finalists, but The Orphan Master's Son, A.M. Homes' May We be Forgiven, and John Green's ridiculously great YA novel The Fault in Our Stars were among my favorite books of the year. Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is also excellent, and I feel obligated to root for it on account of regional loyalty. (Is this what it's like to be a sports fan?)
If you scroll down on the announcement page, you can see the longlist—interesting to note that Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, and Michael Chabon didn't make the cut. (That's right: A YA book beat out Junot Diaz. Seriously, grownups, give The Fault in Our Stars a shot. It's about cancer. It's wonderful.) The longlist also reminds me that I haven't read Lydia Millet's new novel yet. My Christmas break couch-reading list is getting LONG.
Here's the finalist list:
HHhH by Laurent Binet
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
Ivyland by Miles Klee
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Dear Life by Alice Munro
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Building Stories by Chris Ware
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