The Rooster

Welcome to the Rooster Nonfiction Pop-up

Real facts, real events, real people—oh my! It’s time for our first ever Tournament of Books nonfiction event.

It’s May, starting to become spring, and the Rooster has retreated to sleep through his hangover. And yet here we are, back again! Welcome to the Rooster Nonfiction Pop-up.

We’re calling it a pop-up because it’s a limited engagement—it begins and ends this month—and because, unlike the Tournament of Books and the Rooster Summer Reading Challenge, this event isn’t a competition, nor will any of the books feed into another event. It’s just us and you, reading and discussing three recently published works of nonfiction. Also, we’re sort of testing the waters here. After all, we’ve never done this before—a month-long Tournament of Books event involving nonfiction? Involving words that are verifiably true, of the known world and not fictional imaginings? It’s new ground for us, for sure, this whole nonfiction thing, and we’re excited.

Here’s how the month will go:

  • We’re going to spend the month of May reading three excellent nonfiction titles, gathering here on TMN to discuss them on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • The chosen books were suggested and voted on by readers of this year’s Tournament of Books. (If you’re reading this and somehow not familiar with the ToB, aka The Rooster, we suggest you go over here and get up to speed.) We decided to focus on memoir for our kickoff pop-up, which gave us the following titles.

Book descriptions are excerpted from publishers’ summaries and edited for length. We get a cut from purchases made through the book links.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

“With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Gay explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.” (Amazon / IndieBound / Powell’s)


Educated by Tara Westover

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.” (Amazon / IndieBound / Powell’s)


Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

“In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own… Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.” (Amazon / IndieBound / Powell’s)


All month long, we’ll be joined in the discussion by one of our favorite nonfiction writers working today: Sarah Hepola, the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. Sarah’s essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, Glamour, The Guardian, Slate, and Salon, where she was a longtime editor. She is also a contributor to NPR’s Fresh Air, and has been a longtime contributor to TMN. We are honored and grateful to have her joining us this month.

Please note: We’ll reading at a slightly faster pace than we did with the Rooster Summer Reading Challenge. (If you like it, let us know, and we'll try a similar pace for the 2018 Rooster Summer Reading Challenge, which begins in June). Here’s the pop-up schedule so you can coordinate your reading plans:

Friday, May 4: Discuss Hunger through chapter 42

Tuesday, May 8: Discuss the rest of Hunger

Friday, May 11: Discuss part one of Educated

Tuesday, May 15: Discuss parts two and three of Educated

Friday, May 18: Discuss Priestdaddy through chapter 10

Tuesday, May 22: Discuss the rest of Priestdaddy

Friday, May 25: Wrap-up discussion

We’ll see you here on Friday to discuss the first half of Hunger. As always, this month’s pop-up and all other Tournament of Books events are made possible by the generous support of our Sustaining Members. Our huge thanks to them. If you haven’t joined their ranks, please consider becoming a Member today. (FYI all Members get 50 percent off in the TMN Store.)

Let’s get reading!


The Tournament of Books’ organizers Andrew Womack and Rosecrans Baldwin are TMN’s co-founders. Baldwin’s most recent book is Everything Now, winner of the 2022 California Book Award. For his other books, try More by The Tournament of Books Staff

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