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…

Tournament of Books X: End of Week 1

March 9, 2014

First, the bad news: No one is perfect after a measly three matchups, including the brain-free play-in.

Second, the good news: Brains are overrated and everyone did equally well in the lopsided matchup between Catton’s gem and that other book.

Third, a summary of your picks: If you are right, and you are right a fair amount of the time, The Good Lord Bird (88%) will avoid extinction tomorrow and guess who’s coming to The Dinner? Mr. Koch, according to 71% of you.

The following three first round matchups are all fall in the 60/40 range with The Son and At Night We Walk in Circles almost perfectly balanced. I would say it’s gonna get crazy, but Judge Fershleiser already took us there.

Other things to which you can look forward? The Luminaries will stomp through the competition, being the only book to snag more than half of us in every round to the Finals, except for that Deliverance incident. It is still a strong plurality (35%) to take it all, but, really, who wasted their Zombie vote on the Booker winner? My way of saying my brackets are busted and yours probably are too.

If you have The Goldfinch as the winner, that is the next most popular pick (29%) to take home southern fried bragging rights.

I hope this jest isn’t infinite, but I do hope it comes with a stiff drink. And if you read TOB comments, you know what I mean.

Leader Board Update: March 10
1. Eleven people with two.
2. Everyone else.

Already, everyone has missed one and gotten one right. This is not looking like a record-setting year in either direction. But I picked The Luminaries to win it all, so have a grain of salt.

Tournament of Books X: Unofficial Contest

February 26, 2014

I have been having something of a blogging crisis, most visible in the absence of posts here. But I am still reading and some of those books are ToB X contenders. This will mark the fifth year I have blogged the ToB, so I guess this is Unofficial Tournament of Books Contest V. The V is for Victory, I guess, if you get your entry in by the time their countdown clock (here) gets to whatever “eightuple zeros” is in actual English.

The rules:


The prize will be the winner’s choice of two books from among the following books:

1. Claire of the Sea-Light by Edwidge Danticat
2. The Tenth of December by George Saunders
3. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
4. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
5. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
7. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
8. Orion You Came And You Took All My Marbles by Kira Henahan
9. Anything by Samuel Beckett
10. Anything by Albert Camus
11. Anything by Virginia Woolf

There is probably no rhyme and only a little reason to the above list.

The particular format (i.e. cover type/publisher/ebook/etc.) will be chosen by me at my sole discretion, but I will have always opted for the expressed preferences of the winner and will almost certainly do again so long as it does not bankrupt me.

Eligibility and Entry Requirements:

Everyone, everywhere is eligible, except for me, my immediate family, and close relatives. There is absolutely no entry fee, obligation, or purchase required. However, I would be very pleased if the winner, after reading the prize selections, tells someone, somewhere, what they thought of their selected books, especially if they liked them.

Entries must be received by Monday, March 3, 2014 at 7:59am Eastern Standard Time (US) (If my calculations are correct, better shoot for 11:59pm March 2nd, to be safe. (I may, in my sole discretion, accept entries after that if they arrive prior to the posting of any results. Dance with the devil of procrastination at your own risk.)


Each entrant should e-mail their entry to: kerry_7 at yahoo. The subject line should read: 2014 TOB Contest. (I will reply to confirm receipt, but will check mail only once per day around 8:00pm-ish. If you don’t receive the reply within three days, hope for the best because the tournament is probably under way already. Feel free to e-mail after a couple days.

One entry per person, please. Include your name and mailing address in the body of the entry. This information will only be used to send you the books in the event you win.

When making your selections, you should refer to the official Tournament of Books 2014 brackets. If you print out the official bracket (PDF here) and fill it out, you may find it helpful.

Please format your entry as follows, using the book title for your pick (decipherable abbreviations are perfectly fine):

Play-in Winner
Life After Life

Round 1 Winners
The Luminaries
A Tale for the Time Being
The Good Lord Bird
The Dinner
The Lowland
At Night We Walk in Circles
The Goldfinch
Life After Life

Round 2 Winners
The Luminaries
The Good Lord Bird
The Lowland
Life After Life

Round 3 Winners and Zombies
The Luminaries
The Lowland
Life After Life
Eleanor & Park

Zombie Round Winners (Finalists)
The Luminaries
Life After Life

The Luminaries

Winning Votes

The above are my predictions. I am, of course, ineligible for any prizes.

Points will be awarded as follows:
Each correct Play-in pick – 1 point
Each correct 1st Round pick – 1 point
Each correct 2nd Round pick – 2 points
Each correct 3rd Round/Zombie pick – 2 points
Each correct Zombie Round pick – 4 points
Correct pick of Champion – 8 points
Total Possible Points = 41

Please note: You will receive points for your Round 3/Zombie picks even if your “Zombie” pick actually turns out to be a Round 3 winner or vice versa. In other words, I will simply pool your Round 3 and Zombie picks and award points if your pick makes it into that ring of the bracket.

All points will be totaled. The highest score wins.

Finally, as a tie-breaker, guess how many votes out of a possible 17 the winner will receive. (Your answer should be a number from 9-17, obviously.)

If there is still a tie, the earliest entry wins.

Other Info:

I will make every effort to provide reasonable updates on the scoring. The timeliness of the updates, as the chances of winning, depend on the number of entries.

For complete rules of the official Tournament of Books (which is in no way associated with this contest), please check the official homepage of the Tournament of Books.

Good luck and enjoy the Tournament!

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Final Leaderboard

March 29, 2013


After yesterday, it was inevitable a Zombie would win. It did. This Zombie lives up to the Rooster tradition of excellence (The Road, Cloud Atlas, Wolf Hall, etc., etc.).

Championship Match
The Orphan Master’s Son karate chops The Fault in Our Stars

Final Leaderboard

1. 28 Points and Undisputed Winner: Neil R. (tiebreak 11; actual 14)

2. 28 points (and ineligible for glory): Kerry H. (tiebreak: 10)

3. 26 Points: Amy C. (11)

4. 26 Points: Julie W. (10)

5. 25 Points: Melanie C. (11)

6. 25 Points: Dianne H. (no tiebreak)

7. 24 Points: Michelle W.

8. 20 Points: Linda J. (13)

9. 20 Points: Felicity (11)

10. 17 Points: Christophe H. (9) edging out Jennifer N. (no tiebreak)

Neil R. takes home the prize! Congratulations and I hope to see you next year trying to defend your title.

As for the bottom of the pile, no record was set. However, several contestants came in with an impressively low 4 out of a possible 41 points. Stacy, Timothy, and Kevin managed this unenviable feat. KfC takes home the booby prize on tie-breaks. He (as did I) unwisely predicted a close, 10-7, Finals. In reality, Adam Johnson hen-pecked John Green 14-3.

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Post-Zombie Apocalypse

March 28, 2013


It is an all-Zombie Finals, making this the third consecutive year in which a Zombie will fry the Rooster.

Match 1, Zombie Round
The Fault in Our Stars ate the brain of Building Stories

Match 2, Zombie Round
The Orphan Master’s Son crushed the larynx of Gone Girl

Leaderboard – Post-Zombie Round

1. (20 points) Linda J., Neil R., Felicity, Kerry H.

5. (18 points) Amy C., Julie W.

7. (17 points) Christopher H., Jennifer N., Melanie C.

10. (16 points) Jeremy Z., Andrew B., Michelle W., Lydia P.

It takes 28 points to win. The winner of the contest will come from those with twenty (20) points. (I, of course, am excluded.) An early congratulations to whoever brings home the goods tomorrow.

My consolation to everyone else, particularly if your favorite failed to Final. There is always next year…..

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – End of Round 3

March 26, 2013


Match 3, Round 2
Gone Girl thrilled over Beautiful Ruins.

Match 4, Round 2
How Should a Person Be? was a question left unanswered by Bring Up the Bodies

Match 1, Round 3
Building Stories disappeared The Orphan Master’s Son

Match 2, Round 3
Gone Girl denied the premise of How Should a Person Be?

Leaderboard – End of Round 3

1. (17 points) Christopher H.

2. (16 points) Linda J., Neil R., Felicity, Jeremy Z., Kerry H.

7. (15 points) Mike R.

8. (14 points) Jane Eyre, Jayme G., Julie W., Jed S., Amy C.

Other contenders (Current/Max Points):

Michelle W. (12/28), Diane H. (13/25), Melanie C. (13/25), Jennifer N. (13/25)

I regret to inform you that if your name does not appear above, you have been mathematically eliminated.

Interestingly, no one has picked Building Stories to take it all. I have to think there might be regrets about that. It seems very likely to make the Finals, but can only play spoiler, not king-maker, now. A Building Stories win will force a tie-breaker decision.

Only one contestant still in contention picked The Fault in Our Stars for the Rooster. If it wins, she does.

The Orphan Master’s Sons contingent is the largest and Gone Girl booster club nearly as populous. The precise winner, in the event either of these prevails, will be determined by tie-breakers.

Good luck!