Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

About Us

“Nothing is harder on the true writer’s sense of security than an age of bad criticism, and in one way or another, sad to say, almost every age qualifies.” -John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

The Book Fight podcast is, in a nutshell, writers talking about books. Books we love. Books we hate. Books that inspire us, baffle us, infuriate us. These are the conversations writers have at the bar, which is to say they’re both unflinchiningly honest and open to tangents, misdirection, general silliness.

Each episode starts with a particular book, story or essay, chosen either by one of us (Tom or Mike) or by our guest, though you don’t need to read the books to enjoy the show. We promise not to spoil anything too serious, plot-wise, and the books themselves generally serve as jumping-off points for larger discussions about writing and reading: craft issues, the ins and outs of publishing, the contemporary lit scene, such as it is.

We’ve also gotten in the habit of building our short story and essay episodes around seasonal themes, like the Winter of Wayback and Spring of Success. During the first two years of the show, our installments on non-book weeks were called Writers Ask, episodes focused on answering questions from listeners about writing, reading, publishing, MFA programs, and more.

In 2015, we won an award for Best Streaming Media Project at the Philly Geek Awards, an event that looked like this.

If you’re new to the show and have no idea where to start, this post may be a helpful primer.

About Your Hosts







MIKE INGRAM lives in Philadelphia, where he teaches writing at Temple University. His stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including The North American Review, Phoebe, December, and EPOCH. You can follow him on Twitter @mikeingram00 or visit his website at

McAllister author photo

TOM MCALLISTER is the nonfiction editor of Barrelhouse. His memoir, Bury Me In My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly, was published in 2010 by Villard. His  latest novel, How to Be Safe, will be published by Liveright in Spring 2017. His 1st novel The Young Widower’s Handbook, was published by Algonquin in February 2017, and, according to Publisher’s Weekly, was “a remarkable fiction debut.” He has published stories and essays in a bunch of places (read some here, here, here, here, and here). Like Mike, he’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Temple. He lives in South Jersey with his wife and his dog. For more about him, you can check his website or follow him on Twitter @t_mcallister.


Look At All These Nice Things People Are Saying:

(all quotes excerpted from iTunes reviews)

” I don’t agree with everything Mike and Tom say…but the opinions are considered, entertaining, and often funny.”

“These guys are very serious about writing but they go into major detail about all kinds of books. I think of Stephen King and Pat Conroy as popular fiction. So where else will you see serious writers giving it a serious read? That’s cool and it makes Book Fight a welcome addition to the literary landscape.”

“I’m a writer and a reader. This is great listening. All you need to know.”

“It really feels like I’m eavesdropping on a warm conversation between smart guys who love writing and literature”

“These guys have made reading more fun and interesting. As a bonus, the show is never stuffy”

“Their observations about writing and publishing are cogent, honest, and down-to-earth. They discuss writing and reading the same way other people talk about sports, cars, or food… you don’t need an MFA to enjoy their approach to the world of books.”

“Mike and Tom take the books seriously, but never take themselves or the ‘cast too seriously”

“Book Fight is the [podcast] that’s most affected my life outside the time I spend listening to it… it’s caused me to engage more with literature than I did before, to try to understand on a deeper level why I dislike something I dislike (and the reverse)”

“Essentially listening  in to a conversation between two smart, interesting guys. It’s kind of like Car Talk for books.”

“The best podcasts feel like hanging out with friends. That what Book Fight! feels like”

“These guys are smart, endearing, and funny. I’m so glad I found this podcast.”

“Unpretentious, hilarious, insightful, and smart. I want both of these guys to be my buddy/boyfriend.”

“If I could shrink Mike and Tom down and carry them with me everywhere, I would.”

“By far the best book-based podcast out there”

“With a great mix of reverence for literature and irreverence for everything else, the hosts are serious about books without taking themselves too seriously. Every episode is full of both laughs and astute insights.”

“If I’d realized professors could be so funny, I’d have paid more attention in college.”

“Listening to Tom and Mike feels like eavesdropping on the most interesting conversation at a party.”