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!

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Round 2, Match 2

March 20, 2013


Match 1, Round 2
The Orphan Master’s Son prevails over The Fault in Our Stars.

Match 2, Round 2
Building Stories stings May We Be Forgiven

Leaderboard – Round 2, Match 2

1. (Ten points) Neil R., Jed S.

2. (Nine points) Christopher H., Dianne H., Mike R.

3. (Eight points) Lydia P., Jane Eyre, Jayme G., Susan S., Linda J., Julie W., Felicity, Jeremy Z., Jim M., Kerry H.

The leaderboard has been re-shuffled. More of that is likely to come. While Gone Girl and Bring Up the Bodies are the most commonly picked winners of the next two matches, there are dissenters, particularly at the top. If the expected happens, we will have new leaders and an even bigger logjam.

(Having read neither of today’s contenders, I have no comment. I was, obviously, happy to see The Orphan Master’s Son advance.)

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – End of Round 1

March 18, 2013

It turns out that, if your favorite is out and it isn’t either Arcadia or Where’d You Go, Bernadette, then your dreams of Rooster-prognostication glory are pretty much over. Sorry. Those are potential Zombies from the so-far eliminated. This means Dear Life, the book I enjoyed most but was wise enough not to invest my Rooster-hopes in, is gone from the TOB for good. So much worse for the TOB.


Match 6, Round 1
Beautiful Ruins (84%) beat The Song of Achilles (16%) as was expected.

Match 7, Round 1
Bring Up the Bodiesl (84%) advanced against HHhH (16%)

Match 8, Round 1
How Should a Person Be? (12%) upset Arcadia (88%)

Leaderboard – End of Round 1

1. (Perfect: Eight points) Linda J.

2.. (Seven points) Christopher H., Mike R.

6. (Six points) Jed S., Susan S., Jane Eyre, Lydia P., Jayme G., Neil R., Julie W., Felicity, Andrew B., Jeremy Z., Jim M., Kerry H. (me!)

Things are getting exciting. How long can Linda stay perfect? Will Chris or Mike be able to capitalize if she does misstep? Is there a hero among the large, hungry group of six-pointers? Yes, yes, excitement galore and only by the slow release of fowl judgments will these questions be answered. The tension is finger lickin’ good.

Um, anyway, the second round odds:

The Orphan Master’s Son 9-1 favorite over The Fault in Our Stars

Building Stories a 3-1 favorite over May We Be Forgiven

Gone Girl over Beautiful Ruins, 3-1.

Bring Up the Bodies over How Should a Person Be?, 1,000,000-1. (Actually, infinity-to-one, but let’s say there’s a chance.)

I will say that we seem, collectively, to underestimate The Fault in Our Stars, but I hope not. Everything else looks pretty accurate to me and, given my picks, would suit me as well as it is possible to be suited at this point. Not Armani, but still pretty nice.

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 5

March 13, 2013

Collectively, contest entrants are 3-2 in picking the TOB. And that includes in the “correct” column the virtual tossup between Building Stories and Dear Life. Why is it so hard to pick TOB winners? (Nevermind that Linda J. rejects the premise.)


Match 4, Round 1
May We Be Forgiven (26%) pulled an upset over Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk (74%)

Match 5, Round 1
Gone Girl (97%) easily bested Ivyland (3%)

Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 5

1. (Perfect: Six points) Linda J.,

2.. (Five points) Mike R., Jed S., Christopher H., Susan S., Jane Eyre,

6. (Four points) Jennifer N., Lydia P., Jayme G., Neil R., Julie W., Felicity, Andrew B., Jeremy Z.

With Gone Girl‘s widely expected victory, no one can match the record low of one point. Plenty are still in it with 2 points though. I am barely caught in the middle with three points.

The final three matches of the first round are all predicted by 80-20 margins or greater. And blemish-free Linda J. has gone with the overdog in each of those matches. That means upsets provide fertile ground for a rankings shake-up.

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 3 Results

March 11, 2013

That didn’t take long. I’m out.

The thing is, words can hurt. They can hurts in lots of ways, but especially when the words Charles Yu writes in his bracket are different than the words I write in my bracket. It’s like my words don’t exist, like they fell from my lips into the void that awaits us all with its depth, its darkness, and, most of all, its chilly indifference.


Match 2, Round 1
The Orphan Master’s Son (84%) beat Where’d You Go Bernadette (16%)

Match 3, Round 1
Building Stories (56%) advanced on a technicality over Dear Life (44%)

Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 3

1. (Perfect: Four points) Mike R., Christopher H., Linda J., Susan S.

5. (Three points) Lydia P., Jane Eyre, Jayme G., Neil R., Julie W., Jed S., Felicity, Andrew B., Jeremy Z.

Also, seven contestants could still tie the all-time worst score of one. But I won’t get anybody’s hopes up by naming names until we at least get out of the first round.

Congratulations to the slightly shrunken lead group. Yellow draws attention, as do positive tests for performance enhancing drugs (acid, I presume, because that’s what you’d have to be dropping to prefer Building Stories to Dear Life and this doesn’t mean I am bitter), so watch your backs.

Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Round 1, Match 1 Results

March 7, 2013

After the play-in and the first match of Round 1, there is one expected result (by you and most people with a clue, not by me) and one upset (sort of). I have read only one of the five books involved, so any opinion on my part would be uninformed. I haven’t developed either a loathing or a love for any of the five books, so am not yet emotionally invested in the results. Well, except that I think this gives The Orphan Master’s Son an easier route into the Zombie Round. This is a good thing.

Leaderboard after Match 1, Round 1:

1. Two points – Mike R., Christopher H., Linda J., Susan S., and Lydia P.

6. One point – Lots.

Congratulations to our five leaders.

There will be a leaderboard update after tomorrow’s match only if The Orphan Master’s Son loses, because, like 84% of contestants, the leaders all went safe with Johnson’s excellent book. If they remain leaders through the weekend, they will start to differentiate themselves on Monday. They are not unanimous in preferring Building Stories over Dear Life.