• Sue Kwong

It seems like it’s been a really long time since November. It was still relatively warm them. There was no snow. Wearing sweaters was still a cheerful novelty. Back then, there were 16 contenders for the title of Greatest Ever Chicago Book. We can’t honestly say that they were hopefuls because they were books, designed to inspire rather than to have feelings, but each one definitely had its fans and supporters.

And now, over the course of a dozen weekly bouts, during which time its gotten colder and snowier and more miserable outside, our judges have winnowed the list of contenders down to four. Two of the Final Four—The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and Working by Studs Terkel—are quite thick, so the tournament went on hiatus to give our round three judges time to read.

They’re still reading—the next bout will be next Monday, March 2—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start voting. (It’ll probably be a more pleasant task than voting in tomorrow’s Chicago municipal elections.)

Because the probability for accurately predicting the judges’ rulings is so high now, there won’t be a prize for round three—except that if your bracket hasn’t yet been ripped to shreds, you still have a shot at the grand prize, a trip to Mexico. Here’s how the bracket stands now:

  • Sue Kwong

And here’s your ballot:

You have until midnight this Sunday, March 1, to submit your ballot. You must vote on both bouts for your ballot to count. The judges will start handing down their decisions on Mondays, starting March 2. Voting for round three begins February 10 and runs through March 1; the judges will begin handing down their decisions on March 2. And, finally, voting on the ultimate greatest book begins March 10 and runs through April 5. We’ll reveal both winners, the greatest book, and the name of the lucky reader who gets to go to Mexico, in our Spring Books Issue on April 16.

If you’d like to designate colors—or mascots!—for each book and design flags or sweatshirts to give this contest a more NCAA-like spirit, please do. And send pictures!

The fine print:
Voting runs as follows:
Round one: November 19-November 23, 11:59 PM
Round two: January 13-January 18, 11:59 PM
Round three: February 23-March 1, 11:59 PM
Final: March 10-April 5, 11:59 PM

Apple Vacations is pleased to confirm one seven-night trip to Riu Jalisco, in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico for two adults departing from ORD, Chicago. Trip includes seven-night accommodations, round-trip charter air, transfers to/from resort, nonmotorized water sports, all food/drinks at the resort and the assistance of an in-resort Apple Representative. Trip is valid for travel through August 1, 2015. Taxes, insurance, any applicable baggage fees, and additional expenses (such as optional excursions, spa treatments, phone calls and souvenirs) are the sole responsibility of the winner. All vacations are subject to availability. Blackout dates do apply. This trip is valid through Aug. 1, 2015. Travel is not permitted during holiday periods including both five days prior to and after. Trips are nontransferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. Apple Vacations reserves the right to substitute the vacation with another of equal value, equal Apple rating or within the same hotel chain should any unforeseen circumstance occur. Hotel to be determined by Apple Vacations. Winner must be at least 21 years old or traveling with a legal guardian. Employees of participating companies and its properties, sponsors, vendors and their immediate families are not eligible to win. All departure/immigration taxes, insurance and fuel surcharges (approximately $310-380 USD per person, subject to change) must be paid by winner to Apple Vacations prior to departure. For full contest rules, click here.