Congratulations to Rachel Anderson, Matthew Bell, and Emma Christen, winners of the 2017 Book Collecting Contest!

Best Essay:
Rachel Anderson
Collection:  "Sacred Texts:  The Books Above My Altar"

The award for best essay goes to Rachel Anderson for her essay, "Sacred Texts:  The Books Above My Altar."  Rachel’s well-written essay seamlessly weaves the disparate elements of her collection into a cohesive and meaningful whole.  She utilizes her sharply honed rhetorical skills to clearly articulate her interpretation of what a sacred text is and how the texts within her collection meet that criteria, “a text is sacred when it speaks to the heart, when it presents a resonant explanation of the human experience, when it is gifted to me with the sacred in mind, when it encourages positive action, and when it inspires higher-consciousness patterns of thought.” Congratulations to Rachel.


1st Place/Single Collector Award:
Matthew Bell
Collection:  "Politics: Love at First Sight"

The first place, or single collector, award acknowledges the combination of an excellent, integrated and comprehensive essay, a well annotated bibliography, collection images, and a thoughtful wish list. This year the first place award goes to Matthew Bell for his collection “Politics: Love at First Sight.”  Matthew‘s collection of materials on politics includes entries encompassing contemporary political issues, political theory where he has put John Locke and James Baldwin in the same category, and includes contemporary and historical satire.  His personal interest in politics has grown into his academic and scholarly pursuits that clearly are far-ranging and thoughtful.  Congratulations to Matthew.

  • What prompted you to apply?
    I thought that this contest was a fantastic way to encourage students to continue reading outside of class, which isn't always easy. I wanted to use this contest as a way to remind myself to carve out time for reading books that aren't assigned to me.
  • What inspired your collection?
    I have always been interested in politics since the 2008 election between Barack Obama and John McCain. This interest has transformed into a passion that has shaped my reading habits, field of academic study, and even how I spend my free time. Studying and participating in politics gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.
  • Do you have a favorite place to look for books?
    I love going to Book Haven, a locally owned bookstore in my hometown of Loveland, CO. There have been many times where I have lost track of time there browsing the shelves. I also enjoy going to the semi-annual Friends of the Loveland Public Library Used Book Sale. It is a great program that supports for our local public library.
  • Do you have a favorite item?
    There is a tie for my favorite item. Asymmetric Politics by Matt Grossman and David A. Hopkins has transformed the ways in which I think about contemporary political parties. I thoroughly enjoyed reading their argument and I plan on incorporating elements of it in my future academic and political work. My other favorite is 1984 by George Orwell. This book has been very influential in the development of the political satire section of my collection.
  • Advice to future collectors?
    Shop at locally owned stores. This is a great way to find used books that are affordable while supporting your community in the process. I have found many fantastic books at local events that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Also, talk to your peers about book recommendations. I have found this to be a great way to further develop friendships and find new books to add to my personal collection.


Collins Choice Award:
Emma Christen
Collection:  "Beauty in Diversity: Learning Humanity Through Religion"

The Collins Choice Award recognizes a student whose collection illustrates the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.  The University’s mission and educational goals include as their most recently added goal, “Informed appreciation of self and others as part of a broader humanity in the world environment.”  This book collection and essay celebrate that aspect of the liberal arts. The essay demonstrates a passion for books, for lifelong growth and learning through reading, and for exploring a diverse range of thought via reading and personal interaction. The collector demonstrates intellectual autonomy and the capacity to learn within and outside of a formal educational structure. It is for these reasons that we are awarding the Collins Choice Award to Emma Christen, for the “Beauty in Diversity: Learning Humanity Through Religion” collection.  Congratulations to Emma!

  • What prompted you to apply?
    I applied really because I love books so much. Reading and writing have always been a huge part of my life, and I wanted an opportunity to share my love for books with other people who love them too.
  • What inspired your collection?
    My collection was inspired by the incredible things I've learned from studying religion. It's not only my major, but also a subject I'm extremely passionate about - which is probably why I have so many books about it!
  • Do you have a favorite place to look for books?
    My favorite place to look for books is definitely either used bookstores or the library. Two of the main sources for my collection have either been finding them in the religion section of a wonderful used bookstore, or reading them at the library first and deciding I had to have them.
  • Do you have a favorite item?
    It's really hard to pick a favorite item, but I might have to pick my copy of A History of God by Karen Armstrong. She was my introduction to religious studies, and I am very proud of the books of hers I have in my collection.
  • Advice to future collectors?
    My advice for future collectors is to really focus on why the books in your collection are important to you. If the judges can see how much of an impact these books have had on your life, your collection will be much stronger and more powerful.

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!