The 2014 Great Books Bracket

Apr 9, 2014

So now that the NCAA College Basketball Tournament is over and you are thoroughly annoyed that you didn't win Warren Buffett's billion dolllar challenge, it's time to vote on a real bracket: The CiRCE Institute's 2014 Great Books Bracket. 

We've painstakingly chosen sixty-four of the Great Books, seeded 1-16 into four brackets of sixteen books each. Admittedly somewhat arbirtrary (although not completely) our cut-off date was 1621, the year of the publication of Shakespeare's second folio. And, while we do include some works of theology and politics, we purposefully did not include either Scripture, like the King James version of the Bible, or famous Legal documents, such as the Magna Carta. But we did our best to include many kinds of books from many disciplines, including epics, works of philsophy and science, and some poetry.  

Here's the bracket. 

We fully expect to receive messages and comments from people asking why we didn't include their favorite book. There's sure to be some controversy about which books included and why. And we admit that there's really no science to the books we did choose. We just tried to choose 64 of the books that have been most influential and are the among the very best ever written. In certain instances we chose "the works of" some authors, and in the case of Shakespeare we actually chose the tragedies and comedies as individual works for the sake of the bracket. 

The seeding is going to be somewhat controversial, no doubt. And we're okay with that. We did our best to seed according to influence and so you see The Canterbury Tales seeded higher than Shakespeare's Tragedies, in part because Shakespeare hasn't been around as long as Chaucer's work (in some instances, as in this one, Andrew Kern made a unilateral decision about seeding). Either way, the goal is to have some fun debating and discussing and agonizing over which books are the very greatest. 

Ultimately how you vote is up to you. While we as an organization attempted to seed roughly according to influence you should vote according to whichever standard you prefer. You can vote based on your own opinions about influence or your preferences and favorites. Around here we're all voting based on different criteria. 

Round one of the voting ends Monday April 14. Round two lasts from the 15th - 18th. Round 3 from the 19-23. Round 4 from the 24-29. And the final round will last from April 30 - May 3rd. 

Happy voting and try not to get a headache deciding which of Plato's works to move in to the second round. 

Voting for Round One is now closed! Round 2 will be posted later today.
David Kern

David Kern

David is director of our multimedia initiatives (podcast host, web-content manager, magazine editor, etc). He often writes about film, television, books, and other culture-related topics, and has been published by Christ and Pop Culture, Think Christian, Relevant, and elsewhere.  David and his wife, Bethany, have three young boys and they live in Concord, NC. 

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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