TOB 2015 Contest Update: Rooster Crowing!

March 31, 2015

It’s the dawn of a new day, the crowning of a new champ.

Susan came into the final week with a nice, but not insurmountable, three point lead.  On Monday, All the Light We Cannot Sees victory over An Untamed Statereshuffled the deck slightly.  Susan maintained her lead, but Jeremy, Felicity, and I climbed three spots each.

Standings after the Semifinals:

1.  Susan – 23 points

2.  Felicity – 19 points

3.  Jeremy and Me – 18

4.-6.  Chris, Melanie, and Timothy – 16 points

With the ultimate victory of Station Eleven over All the Light We Cannot See, Susan’s hopes went from bright to dark.  Like something from the apocalypse.  Chris had prepared well and passed her, 24 points to 23.  Alas, Chris forgot to pack a solar panel and ran just short of the energy needed to win.  Jeremy, apparently holed up in a Walmart next to an REI, outlasted everyone and snagged everlasting glory and a couple new books. Congraulations, Jeremy!

Final Standings:

1.  Jeremy – 26 points

2.  Chris – 24 points

3.  Susan – 23 points

4.  Felicity – 19 points

     Me – 18 points  (I don’t count)

5.  Melanie and Timothy – 16 points

Thanks to everyone who took a shot.  This seems to have been a tough year, comparing the top scores this year to years past.  But I hope you had fun over at the ToB.  Happy Reading everyone!

And just because you didn’t win, say, A Girlf is a Half-formed Thing, doesn’t mean you can’t read it anyway.  It is, hands down, the best 2014 book I read all year.  Ferrante’s trilogy, as great as that is, notwithstanding.  Don’t trust me, rely on the brilliant critic John Self or the Bailey’s Womens Prize committee.  Eimear McBride couldn’t get a publisher for 10 years.  Show Gallery Beggar Press some love for having the courage and aesthetic sense to publish this masterwork.  Or find something new and amazing at McBride’s American publisher, Coffee House Press.  And I am not plugging the book or these presses because I am getting anything for it.  I believe in supporting great writers (Eimear McBride) and the small presses who publish literary work that isn’t commercial enough or something for the big publishers.

If you’re still here, get your nose in a book!

[Formatting errors, lots of them, corrected. I think.]


TOB 2015 Contest:  Standings March 28, 2015

March 27, 2015

It’s been an eventful week at the TOB.  My three favorites have bitten the dust.  I am undecided as to the best of the rest.  Which, coincidentally, is the state of my fan affairs in the lesser March tournament too.  I don’t know why I can’t always get what I want, but there it is.  But maybe you can, especially if you answer to Susan.

Standings as of March 28, 2015:

1.  Susan – 19 points  (Predicted winner:  All the Light We Cannot See)

2.-4.  Chris, Melanie, and Timothy – 16 points

5.  Felicity – 15 points

6.  Jeremy and Me – 14 points

Multiple contestants still have a chance, but, if you’re not in that group, I think your season’s over.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the Tournament and that your favorite still has a shot.

Happy Reading!

TOB 2015 Contest:  Update March 21

March 21, 2015

So far, so good.  By which, I mean that at least several of the books I would find acceptable as champions are still alive.  My favorite too.  I am not quite sure yet whether the list of acceptables includes A Brief History of Seven Killings, but I think it does.  In fact, so far, it is making me rethink my favorites and has me watching a Bob Marley documentary.

But you care mostly about the standings.  They’ve changed.  Melanie and Jeremy are still at #1, but with additional company.

TOB 2015 Contest Standings (as of March 21, 2015)

1-4.  Melanie, Jeremy, Timothy, and Me – 8 points out of a possible 12.

5-6.  Lillian and Felicity – 7 points

No one is mathematically eliminated, yet.  Also, no one has a chance to go the opposite of perfect, which has happened.  Too bad.  The worst possible score at this point is 3.

Best of luck to everyone.  That isn’t really possible, but it is polite.

ToB 2015 Contest:  Pi Day Update

March 14, 2015

The Tournament is underway.  There are more comments than I’ve ever seen on the ToB discussion board and only one contestant is perfect.  My favorite is still in the running, though it hasn’t had its match yet.


1-2.  Melanie and Jeremy – A perfect 5

3-7.  Five Contestants – 4

Congratulations to Melanie and Jeremy!  Everyone else still has a great chance, so don’t fret, yet.  The consensus for Monday, in case you are wondering, is Station Eleven by a country mile.  (You, collectively, predict the next four days of next week to go:  Redeployment, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and All the Light We Cannot See.)

[Edited to reflect my error in scoring.  Two players had perfect scores.  This is a good opportunity to say, as we move forward, please do e-mail me if I have, or you think I have, miscalculated your score.  I err on occasion, obviously.  Thanks in advance.]

Unofficial Tournament of Books 2015 Contest

March 5, 2015

The contest is back in 2015!  The rules are the same as always.

Step One

Fill out your TOB 2015 brackets.

Step Two

Send your picks to me, in some interpretable format*, at a yahoo address beginning kerry_7.  [Edit:  Please make the subject line:  TOB 2015 Contest.   Thanks.]

I just need your picks from a valid e-mail address.  Your entry is an implicit, and like totally legally-binding, assurance that you aren’t entering more than once.  Oh, and don’t forget the tie-breakers:  1.  Tell me how many votes the winning book will get (out of 17); 2.  If it’s still tied, whoever enters first.  Entries must be received prior to March 9 when the first match goes live.  I don’t know when that is or how long it takes e-mail to arrive once sent, so you should probably try to get your entries in sometime on March 8.

Step Three (optional)

Check back periodically to see how you are doing compared to other entrants.

Step Four

Wait for your awesome prize package in the form of your choice of two books from Graywolf Press (because they recently published a new book by Sarah Manguso, my favorite TOB judge of all-time) or Gallery Beggar Press (because they published A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride, my favorite find of 2014) or Coffee House Press (McBride’s U.S. publisher) or Milkweed Editions (because Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles and Montana 1948).  Technically, if you win, you’ll first have to tell me your pick of books unless you just want to read what I tell you to read.

That’s it.  Again, please only one entry per person.   In case you care, I selected these publishers for the reasons given, not because any of them are subsidizing this in any manner.  Of course, they could throw in bonus material if they read this and want to be cool like that.  I’ll still be buying two books for the winner, full freight, because I can and because I want to support and promote these particular small presses.  Good luck and have fun!


*  An interpretable format might look like this:


I would like to enter your TOB 2015 contest.  My picks are:

Round 1 Winners (8 books)

Bone Clocks, Brief History, All the Light, Brave Man, Annihilation, Station Eleven, Redeployment, Those Who Leave

Round 2 Winners (4 books)

Brief History, All the Light, Annihilation, Those Who Leave

Zombie Round (4 books:  Round 3 winners plus 2 Zombies)

All the Light, Those Who Leave, Untamed State, Station Eleven


All the Light, Those Who Leave


Those Who Leave

Tie-break: 9

Unofficial ToB X Contest: Final Standings

March 30, 2014

The chickens have come home to roost, but for the one sent off to Mr. McBride, of course. So, the final results are in and Adam gets to crow this year.

For his prize, Adam has selected the much-anticipated U.S. debut of The Orenda, which has taken home some prizes of its own, including the Shadow Giller Prize. In addition, he has selected the scintillating novel described by one astute critic as like “the birth of your first child, only it fits on a Kindle and doesn’t keep you awake for several months before it begins to tell you stories and the stories are actually good.” If that sounds like over-hype, it isn’t when you consider Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles has also garnered critical praise like this: “Henehan isn’t just playful with language, she tickles it until it wets itself.” But, this is more about Adam and his incredible, come-from-behind, sorry Jennifer, victory in the Fifth Annual Unofficial ToB Contest! Well done, sir. Happy reading, to you and to all!

Oh, and that’s almost guaranteed with Henehan’s novel which has been lauded not only by me, but also by The Millions, Bookslut, and GQ. And now you are probably wondering, is Milkweed Editions paying him? No, they are not, though I wouldn’t be above that (and I did get them to give away a book to a Hungry Like the Woolf reader, though I paid for mine). Is Kira Henehan sleeping with this guy? No, I am sure Ms. Henehan is above that, especially as I am a complete stranger to her. What’s the deal then? I just really, really liked the book, it is from a small press, and I want Ms. Henehan to write another. Please. You must google your name now and again. I won’t buy just one.

I think I’ve strayed. Thanks to everyone who participated or followed along or just read this for no intelligible reason at all. The best to all of you!

Final Standings

1. 32 Points – Adam S.

2. 29 Points – Jennifer D.

3. 28 Points – Laura C.

4. 16 Points – Jeremy Z.

5. 15 Points – Michelle W.

6. 14 Points – Jim M.

7. 13 Points – Katie M.

8. 12 Points – Susan S., Mike R., Me

Hope to see you all online (here, Goodreads, wherever) before next year’s ToB, but, if not, at least then.

Unofficial ToB X Contest: One to Go

March 27, 2014

The mighty have stumbled. Jennifer, Life After Life was the end of yours, I am afraid. Those four extra points (a perfect eight in the Semis) put Adam in the driver’s seat. Well, those four points and correctly picking an early and everlasting exit for The Luminaries.

Entering the Championship Match:

1. 24 Points – Adam S.

2. 21 Points – Jennifer D.

3. 20 Points – Laura C.

4. 16 Points – Jeremy Z.

5. 15 Points – Michelle W.

6. 14 Points – Jim M.

7. 13 Points – Katie M.

8. 12 Points – Susan S., Mike R., Me

Even if you are out of the running for a prize, I will be happy if your favorite wins tomorrow.

FYI, I have read the following contenders, ranked in order of preference, tonight:

1. The Luminaries^
2. The Good Lord Bird*
3. At Night We Walk in Circles*
4. Life After Life
5. The Goldfinch
6. Long Division*
7. The Dinner*
8. The Tuner of Silences*

I am not sorry to have read any of them. In fact, four from the top five (but not Life After Life which I enjoyed more for the idea than the ultimate execution) could easily jostle to the top of my favorite ToB X contender. And positions 4-7 could also reshuffle. The only book I disliked was The Tuner of Silences, but I suspect the culprits are (1) magical realism and (2) my unfamiliarity with the relevant political and cultural touch points.

Also, my favorite reads published in 2013 also included:

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride
The Tenth of December – George Saunders
Claire of the Sea Light – Edwidge Danticat

I would have loved for any of these three to have been in the ToB. Eimear McBride is a revelation. People interested in new, exciting literary voices should check her out.

*Almost certainly would not have read it but for the ToB.
^I am a long-time fan of Eleanor Catton, meaning I read her first book, The Rehearsal, a couple months before the ToB and decided I would read the rest of her work until she lays down the pen ever after.

Unofficial ToB X Contest: Start of the Zombie Round

March 25, 2014

Bold means you have a chance. Good luck and enjoy the last three matches!

Entering the Zombie Round:

1. 17 Points – Jennifer D. (Unless The People in the Trees wreck everything, The Good Lord Bird has to soar, but not only that.)

2. 16 Points – Laura C., Adam S.

4. 12 Points – Jeremy Z., Susan S., Mike R.

7. 11 Points – Kyle C., Michelle W.

9. 10 Points – AliceUnderSkies, Jim M., Timothy R., Grebmar, Neighbors


Jeremy Z., Laura C., and Adam S. set the pace with six out of a possible eight third round points, moving Laura and Adam tantalizingly close to our leader as Jeremy positions for a final surge to glory. Jeremy’s a Goldfinch man, while Laura and Adam are riding The Good Lord Bird.

Michelle W. resurrects herself with four of the eight possibles and a wise Life After Life pick to win it all. (Jim is one behind, also with 4/8 in Round 3, but will forever remain at least a step slow.)

The Immobile:

Umm, Claudine, pick the opposite of what you think will (want to?) happen next year. But at least you got the Play-In match right, assuring one, but only one, point. (Your comment wins a prize because, well, your feat has only been matched once. Though, technically, someone had zero points because there was no play-in round that year.)

Unofficial Tournament of Books X Contest: Update somewhere in the second third of the tournament, roughly speaking

March 24, 2014

Uh, so, this whole contest is still going on and I hope I have built up the suspense just enough regarding current standings.

For the record, I like where we sit because, with the exception of The Son (or, theoretically, The People of the Trees), I will have read all the Zombie Round contestants. I will have at least one cent about each of the matchups. Yay for me. And that is where my ToB happiness ends.

Standings At Some Point in the Semifinals:

1. 15 Points – Jennifer D. (but not a runaway, Life After Life as a Zombie would likely cause a lead change, but not the end of our leader who might just be prepping for the finale)
2. 12 Points – Laura C., Adam S. (both only one with a shot [sorry for any false hope])
4. 8 Points – AliceUnderSkies, Jeremy Z., Susan S., Grebmar, Neighbors (at least some of you have a theoretical shot)

If you have 7 points, Life After Life and a winner (still alive) other than The Good Lord Bird, you might get a couple free books. But probably not.

Everyone else: Sucks to be us.

Tournament of Books X: End of Round 1 + 1

March 18, 2014

Here we are, several sixty degree (F) days and eight inches of snow later, and Mother Nature isn’t the only one mocking us.

Heavy hitters are falling faster than _______. [edit: I had originally put in a boxing reference, but, upon reflection, thought a very good, if not great, boxer deserved to be remembered for more than the worst fight of his career. I have no replacement.]

And my brackets are a mess.

The standings:

After Game 1 of Round 2

1. 9 points – Jennifer D.: Like, could I borrow your crystal ball?

2. 8 points – Susan S.: The Luminaries hurts us both.

3. 6 points – 6 contestants: Don’t get too confident, another two have five points and four of us are limping along at four points.

I am not sure how to consider historical records with the play-in, but one person has managed only the play-in right so far. To even be considered for the record, that streak has to stay alive through the Zombie minefield and the Finals. So, stay calm. History hasn’t even started dialing yet.

My (Brief) Thoughts on the TOB So Far

With Life After Life hoping for just that, At Night We Walk in Circles wandering aimlessly, and The Luminaries permanently X’d out, I am down to rooting for The Good Lord Bird. I am not pleased with this state of affairs, but then the TOB does not exist to please me. Drats.

Geraldine Brooks has turned in the best judgment (disregarding results) so far, however, there are plenty of potentially interesting matchups to go. Go to the Disqus comments if you haven’t, that’s where most of the fun is.

Until I get a few free moments again…