The Hobbit Takes the Crown in the 2015 #UWBookMadness Challenge

April 8, 2015



The Hobbit, the 2015 Book Madness Champion.
The Hobbit, the 2015 Book Madness Champion.

“This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins.” That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 UW Book Madness champion is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Hobbit whisked away its precious win, beating out 1984 by George Orwell, by taking home 61 percent of the vote in the final found. The Hobbit proved itself to be a tough competitor, with a strong showing throughout the six rounds of competition. The read won its matchups with Watership Down (89%), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (88%), Grapes of Wrath (73%), Little Women (70%), Charlotte’s Web (76%), and 1984 (61%) respectively.

The Hobbit seems to have a mysterious hold on the UW-Madison campus!

Brackets of (Near) Perfection

A seasoned Book Madness veteran, this year’s winner is UW-Madison senior Shan Sivanushanthan. He takes homes the title with a near perfect bracket, missing only four picks total, and completing the challenge with an impressive 186 points out of a possible 192. So what was his secret?

UW-Madison senior Shan Sivanushanthan, 2015 Bracket Challenge winner.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him,” Sivanushanthan joked, quoting from The Hobbit. “In all seriousness, I really just focused on picking the books that were memorable or well-known. If you look at the Elite 8, they were all books that you probably read throughout your childhood and school years. It just made sense.”

Sivanushanthan came close to victory last year, coming in third with one of his roommates taking second.

“This year we had a big group of friends get involved, and we found ourselves getting pretty competitive,” Sivanushanthan noted. “It’s just a fun thing to do, it’s a fun event on campus. We all enjoyed participating.”

Sivanushanthan’s victory spoils include a gift card to the University Bookstore. All final bracket scores can be viewed at

VIP Madness

Not forgetting our VIPs this year, the winner proved that in-depth and carefully honed experience was the key to win: UW-Madison Libraries Vice Provost Ed Van Gemert, with a final score of 118 points, is the VIP champion. See how the rest of our VIPs – from Bucky to Chancellor Blank – did this year.

#UWBook Madness Number Crunching

  • Closest Vote: O Pioneers! and A Thousand Acres in Round 1 with O Pioneers! winning by 15 votes.
  • Biggest thumping: 1984 destroyed The Circle in Round 2, winning 94% of the votes.
  • Total votes cast: 2,339 (up nearly 30 from 2014).
  • Total brackets submitted: 455 (up from 275 last year)
  • Number of brackets that picked The Hobbit to win it all: 144 (31%)
  • Number of brackets that had 1984 and The Hobbit in the final: 46 (10%)
  • Number of brackets that had all Final Four correct: 5 (1%)
  • Number of brackets that had the Elite 8 correct: 1 (though 7 brackets had 7 of the 8 books correct – not too shabby).
  • 2014 results:, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban over Game of Thrones 67-33%.
  • 2013 results: The Lord of the Rings over Pride and Prejudice 52-48%.

Can’t get enough?

Ed Van Gemert, Vice Provost for Libraries and 2015 VIP Book Madness Winner
Ed Van Gemert, Vice Provost for Libraries and 2015 VIP Book Madness Winner

Get a copy of The Hobbit, or any of this year’s competitors, at one of the UW-Madison Libraries – you know we have them. It’s our business.

And keep an eye on those reading lists this summer – there’s only 10 months to prepare for UW Book Madness 2016.