Book Collection - And the 2013 Winners Are!

Congratulations to Ian Fox, Andrew Osborne, and Ariana Scott-Zechlin, winners of the 2013 Book Collecting Contest!

1st place:
Ian Fox
Collection: "Hunting the Dark Knight: Books on the Batman"

Ian Fox’s collection titled, “Hunting the Dark Knight: Books on the Batman” is our choice for first place.  Ian’s excellent essay and annotations clearly places each item in his collection within the context of his subject.  He also clearly articulated the process, or as he says “journey,” he went through to build the collection, which included thoughtful research of his subject through his exploration online, in-person and in consultation with ‘experts’ on his topic.  To quote Ian, “to me the Batman serves the same function as all good literature, it is an exercise in the functionalism of a theory and as a mechanism to understanding any given field” in this case his attempts to understand political theory and ethics.  As such, the breadth of his collection is impressive, including academic analysis, comics and graphic novels, books on vigilantism, and Ian’s own compilation of journal, news and blog articles.  Many of the items in his collection are first editions, and we were impressed both with the cohesiveness of the collection, and with Ian’s appreciation of his books as art objects.  It is with great pleasure that we award Ian the first place prize this year. 

  • What prompted you to apply?
    After I submitted a collection in last year's contest I became obsessed with book collecting. My application this year was prompted by a desire to learn and obtain books that would stretch my mind.
  • What inspired your collection?
    The inspiration for my collection is the film The Dark Knight. It inspired me to study the Batman as more than a guy in a suit and everything I read is in direct conversation with the film.
  • Do you have a favorite place to look for books?
    Even though alot of my collection was bought online (most of the books aren't found in stores these days) my favorite place to look for books remains Culpepper Books in Proctor.
  • Any advice you would give to future collectors?
    Have a focus for your collection. A concrete, central theme or lens that you look at everything with. You'll get more out of a focused collection, plus you'll be forced to dig deeper for more obscure books (and meet some cool people along the way). Take everything seriously. If you're open minded and willing to put yourself out there, even the most obscure or seemingly mundane things (like comic books, for example) can be enriching and fulfilling. Lastly, follow your passion. A book collection is only about one person; you. And if you get fulfillment out of reading something, nothing else matters.
  • What is your favorite item in your collection?
    1984 remains my favorite book. It's the perfect mix of a horrifying dystopia with literary genius. In my collection, though, my favorite book is Hunting The Dark Knight by Will Brooker (it's no coincidence that my collection is titled after this book). It explores Batman through a literary theory and cultural theory lens (using techniques of political scientists like Baumgartner and Jones) to understand the cultural relevance and impact of the re-invention of the character.



2nd place:
Andrew Osborne
Collection: “Ars Moriendi:" A Selection of Texts Concerning the Phenomenon of Death

It is for this entry, "Ars Moriendi:" A Selection of Texts Concerning the Phenomenon of Death, that we are pleased to award second prize to Andrew Osborne. His collection of thirty items contains a wide breath of scientific, theological sociological, and philosophical perspectives that have been adopted with respect to death.  Paraphrasing from what he expressed so adeptly, The "ars moriendi" tradition is a literary genre that spans across cultures, and reflects any given cultures fears and hopes attendant with death and the possibility of an afterlife. Andrew's maturity in developing his thoughts in his essay and correlating them to his collection are remarkable. He is most deserving of our congratulations. 

  • What prompted you to apply?
    I saw placards for the contest in Collins, which was practically home for my last semester of college. Still hanging on to a few books (not yet due!) that I want to power through before checking them back in.
  • What inspired your collection?
    My fascination for collecting this macabre genre of literature can be traced back to a deeply rooted curiosity about the biological process of death and a desire to understand the psychology of dying. I was exposed to death at an early age, and became greatly interested in the different religious and cultural systems that enable us to make sense of death. I drum in a death metal band, BURNPILE, so, there’s always the chance that good conceptual or lyrical material will surface somewhere.
  • Do you have a favorite place to look for books?
    Powell’s in Portland is a Mecca. More locally, a tie between Culpepper Books, King’s Books, and Half Price Books. Bargain bins everywhere.
  • Any advice you would give to future collectors?
    Once, while browsing at Culpepper Books, I told the owner Jerry that I was thinking about buying more books, but didn’t have any more space on my bookshelf and didn’t think that I would get to reading them all. He told me, with a grin, that “Having more books than one can read is just the soul reaching out to infinity.” After winning this contest, I am proud to say that two shelves’ worth of books, including much of the Ars Moriendi collection, are teetering precariously on the top of my pathetic little bookshelf, and that I have made the time to read most of them. So, I’ll pass on Jerry’s bit of wisdom and tell you: don’t wait to purchase something if you don’t have the time, so long as you make the time to read it!
  • What is your favorite item in your collection?
    The American Way of Death,
    by Jessica Mitford. I wouldn’t have known about many of these other works if I hadn’t been on such a hardheaded search to locate this text, a muckraking exposé of the American funeral industry, after seeing it in a bookstore once and not having enough money to purchase it.



3rd place:  
Ariana Scott-Zechlin

Collection: “Genderization of Crime Fiction from the Victorian Era to Modern Day

We are very pleased this year to award third place to Ariana Scott-Zechlin, for her collection titled "Genderization of Crime Fiction from the Victorian Era to Modern Day." Ariana's fine essay connected the earliest seeds of female driven crime fiction in the popular Victorian-era genre of sensation fiction to the present days' success of Veronica Mars. Though a heavily male dominated genre, to be sure, detective crime fiction has not been without a strong 'feminine' influence as far back as Gothic fiction. In tracing the evolution of the form and its primarily 'boy's club' prevalence, Ariana finds a basis for the current, extremely popular "women leads" in a long line of creative touchpoints. The materials she has chosen to assemble in her collection contain well-known stories & series, attentive literary criticism, and an awareness of 21st century influences such as television & film media, and online fandom. Ariana's bibliography is well-written and informative, and I think I speak for each of the judges when I say that I have been inspired to think more about the role & influence of women in this traditionally male dominated genre. Congratulations Ariana, your collection is very deserving of this third place honor.

  • What prompted you to apply?
    I was working a lot of very boring eight-hour shifts at Security over winter break and was reminded of the contest while searching for a book on the Collins Library website. This reminder conveniently provided me with something to do while waiting another six hours for my shift to end as I began searching Amazon and brainstorming different ways I could frame my collection.
  • What inspired your collection?
    As I mentioned in my essay, I grew up reading Sherlock Holmes stories and watching the Granada series with my mom, which means that Sherlock Holmes has always been a very treasured part of my library (which actually features a fair number of different Sherlock Holmes editions not listed in my collection submission). In recent years, I have also become increasingly invested in feminism, particularly as regards the necessity of critiquing the assumptions embodied in our media as to who should be making decisions in our societies. In the wake of the extensive protestation against Lucy Liu being cast as Joan Watson in CBS' Elementary this past year, I have been very troubled by the many sexist, racist, and even classist arguments against this new show that were being promoted months before the first episode ever aired. Given what I already knew about "feminine" sensation fiction as "masculine" crime fiction's origins, this persisting desire among creators and audiences alike to see crime fiction as solely white, male, and middle-to-upper-class made me want to explore further this myth we have created for ourselves, questioning why it ever came about in the first place and what we can do to challenge it today.
  • Do you have a favorite place to look for books?
    My local bookstore - Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. It's basically a smaller version of Powell's, with used and new books side by side and a really great selection.
  • Any advice you would give to future collectors?
    I would suggest that a good collection is one that doesn't just consist of a bunch of texts on a common theme but instead one that asks questions within that theme, especially questions that have no easy answer or challenge your own preexisting ideas.
  • What is your favorite item in your collection?
    "Do you have a favorite book?" is probably the cruelest question you could ever ask a book collector. After much debate, I have decided that no, I do not have a favorite book, since trying to compare Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights or Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan is pretty much impossible. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories have definitely been the literary work with the most impact on my life so far, though, since the two times I've been published (in a Sherlock Holmes flash-fiction pastiche contest and in a collection of essays on BBC's Sherlock) have both been tied to my long-established love for these characters in all their incarnations.



The aim of the competition was to encourage full-time students at University of Puget Sound to read for enjoyment and to develop personal libraries throughout their lives, to appreciate the special qualities of printed or illustrated works, and to read, research, and preserve the collected works for pleasure and scholarship.”

The award was sponsored by the Book Club of Washington, a nonprofit organization of book lovers and collectors who has a special interest in collecting and preserving printed materials.  It is a goal of the club to support a new generation of collectors with awards and recognition of their collecting accomplishments.  The club held its annual awards reception on April 18th, where the University of Puget Sound and all 14 students were recognized for their achievement.

Congratulations to all the students who participated in the contest.  Plans are already underway for next year’s contest!

Brenna Buckstaff, Designing for Change: A Collection on Architecture and Design
Andrew Cooley, Narrative History: Telling our Greatest Stories
Alex Plant, The Mystery and Genius of Oscar Wilde
Leah Shamlian, Rowing
Toria Messinger, Literature: A Forum for Cultural Exchange and Awareness
Ian Fox, Hunting the Dark Knight: Books on the Batman
Krista Curry, Give My Regards to Broadway History
Hannah Fattor, Discovering Judaism Through Its Depiction in Fiction
Erin Lindsey, A World in Transition: A Late Medieval English Collection
Ariana Scott-Zechlin, Genderization of Crime Fiction from the Victorian Era to the Modern Day
Andrew Osborne, Ars Moriendi: A Selection of Texts Concerning the Phenomenon of Death
Kyle Whitcomb, All the World’s a Stage: Creating New Worlds in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Shannon Kilgore, Memoirs, Metafictions, and Remembrance
Shelby Lee, Collection: BL: All About a “Man’s” love