Reading for enjoyment: it’s a novel (pardon the pun!) idea on a college campus, where many students view the activity as a task—one that’s associated with study and the classroom. Yet reading as a pleasurable act, with no strings attached, is what Carl Neureuther, a 1940 graduate of the Washington University School of Business, hoped to promote among students when he set up an endowed book fund for the WU Libraries. Established in 1987, the fund provides the resources for the annual Neureuther Student Book Collection Essay Competition.
Now in its 28th year, the contest is open to any full-time Wash U student who loves collecting books. Each participant must submit a brief essay about the titles in his or her personal collection. Four cash awards are offered: $1,000 and $500 at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
The contest gives bibliophiles a chance to share genre preferences and literary inspirations and to reflect upon the pleasures of reading. Past winners have showcased book collections of all kinds, from ancient Greek texts and acting handbooks to the novels of the Brontë sisters. Last year, Corey Twitchell, a PhD candidate in Germanic Languages and Literatures, won first place in the graduate category for his essay “Combining Fact and Fiction: My Collection of German-Jewish Writing.” Kelly Oman, a PhD candidate in English, took second place in the graduate category with “Ordering Chaos in the Novels of P.G. Wodehouse.” In the undergraduate category, Joyce Hankins, a senior printmaking major, won first place for “A Self Portrait,” and Talya Zax, a senior English major, took second place with “The Old-Fashioned Girls.”
The entry deadline for the 2015 Neureuther Student Book Collection Essay Competition is Monday, March 2. Eligible students should submit the following materials by that date: 1) a completed entry form; 2) a two- to four-page essay about the book collection; and 3) a bibliography listing the books in the collection. Judges, who are volunteers chosen from the faculty and university community, will take a number of factors into account when assessing the essays, including the scope of each collection, its thematic unity, and its personal value to the collector.
Entry forms, examples of winning essays, and information on how to enter are online here. Students should deliver their materials to the Department of Special Collections on the main level of Olin Library weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, March 2. Winners will be announced and awards presented in late March and early April.
For more information, contact the contest committee chair, Chris Brady, at (314) 935-4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.