Tournament of Books 2023

Staff Picks

Tournament of Books 2023

it's back!

Those of you who are long time DCPL users may remember my excitement in the spring for the best bracket: a book bracket! The Tournament of Books happens annually and I've highlighted some of my favorite reads from tournaments past in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017. I took a break the last two years because I wasn't in the mood for anything that felt like homework (haha, I can't imagine why) but now I'm energized and revved up for this year's games!

That said, here are some of my favorite entries from the 2023 Tournament of Books:

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet

After a failed relationship, Gil walks from New York to Arizona, where his life becomes intertwined with his new neighbors. Millet's prose is lyrical but also dryly funny, and this novel asks questions about the meaning of life and how to build a life on your own. This novel is highly recommended both for fans of philosophy but also fans of domestic fiction, with its thoughtful analysis of the residents of Gil's new Arizona neighborhood.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

Our unnamed narrator runs into an acquaintance from college at the airport, Jeff, who proceeds to narrate his life story. Many years ago, Jeff saved a man from drowning and became occupied by the question of how that man would use his life. That man turns out to be a renowned art dealer and as his life becomes intertwined with Jeff's, the narrative raises questions about destiny. This book fits well in with the tradition of novels about the connection between art and truth, like The Art Forger and The Blazing World.

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach

This book is a perfect example of why I love the TOB. I consider myself pretty plugged into the book scene, and I had never heard of this novel until the TOB longlist came out, but I'm so glad I read it. Narrated by Sally Holt over the course of fifteen years, starting with the summer before she enters eighth grade, this novel is a poignant coming of age story, a romance, and a story of a family dealing with the aftermath of grief. It reminded me of Tell the Wolves I'm Home, another novel I've recommended in the past, but it's also very much its own creature.

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Olga is a wedding planner for the rich and her brother Prieto is a Congressmen, but despite their ascents to the top of the social pyramid, both are haunted by the legacy of their mother Blanca, a militant Puerto Rican activist who left them when they were children to chase her political dreams. Gonzalez writes beautifully about love - familial and romantic - and about the meaning of the American dream and what is worth striving for. That this is the author's debut only makes me more excited!

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a moving novel about friendship and love, but it's also a novel about the joy of fun and games. Sam and Sadie met as children and became friends before a miscommunication tore them apart, but a chance meeting in Cambridge, MA, in college brings them back to each other. The story is narrated by both parties, but also by other characters including Sam's roommate and even from the perspective of video game characters, and it gets at the reality of how human communication is imperfect and can lead to hurt feelings and relationships but also how our differences can work together to make our art and lives more interesting together than they would be alone.

Have you read any of this year's entries? Which are your favorites?
-Shoshana G.