The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything, edited by Mark Reiter & Richard Sandomir

When a book makes you both stand up and say “What the hell was he thinking?” on one page while inducing a fist pumping “Yes!” on the next – you know it’s got something going for it.

Welcome to Bracketology — the new way of clean-cutting through decision making and opining.

You’re probably already familiar with the term as it pops up during NCAA basketball, as well as the bracket format that gets published in your newspaper and on sports websites. But instead of colleges and basketball – make the competitors what ever you want.

What is the best Elvis Costello song? Who is the best Dog for the Ages? Or my personal favorite – what is the biggest baseball myth?

In what feels like part pub quiz and part poker night guy banter – Reiter and Sandomir have compiled brackets from over 100 experts to decide what is the best of a whole bunch of topics you’d never to expect to see pitted in head to head matchups.

Some of the topics will be more relevant to you than others — that’s a given. But that’s also not the point — this is about putting two options against each other, knowing you can only pick one, to determine which is truly your favorite. Is it “Come on down!” or “Final answer” as best game show catchphrase? Or could it be what you’ll name your child if it’s a boy – as one contributor shared.

Better yet — the book invites you to come up with your own brackets, and each expert shares notes on why they made the decisions they did.

Is it literary genius? No. Is it a book that makes you think about things in a different way? Yes! Is it fun, easy to read, and enjoyable? Yes!

But I really believe that the true mark of this book is that it approaches the “best of” debate using a method that really can’t be argued with; it’s either one or the other. Sure you can disagree with the results – but that’s the fun of it. You’re bracket doesn’t have to match your buddy’s.

As my girlfriend said when I put the bracket for best cooking tools to her – “pots and pans or a knife kit? How can you make me choose? You’re killing me!” That’s the fun of it — which one is ultimately the champion…

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