May 25, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 17

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    On what will they spend their prize? On more books, of course

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    A deep-rooted love of books aided two College students in winning the 2006 T. Kimball Brooker Prize for undergraduate book collecting.

    Fourth-year Quinn Anya Carey and second-year Sabahat Adil each won the prize, which is in its 17th year at the University. Carey and Adil will receive prizes of $1,000 and $5,000, respectively.

    “This competition is a wonderful way to recognize the role books play in students’ lives,” said Alice Schreyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center at the Joseph Regenstein Library. “Both of our winners this year have a very deep, passionate relationship with their books.”

    Schreyer noted that students who apply for the Brooker Prize either shape their collections around scholarly interests or around their personal life journey. “This year, we really had one of each,” she said, adding that Carey’s collection is shaped by her path as a scholar, while Adil’s collection is based on her life experiences.

    Carey’s interest in the former Soviet Union and the Russian language has developed into her collection titled “Language and Linguistics of the Former Soviet Union.” In her application essay, Carey wrote of her love of building a collection of mostly used books: “Owning these books that other scholars in this specialized field once owned, I feel a connection with those who have studied this discipline before me. I will never meet most of the original owners, but the occasional bent page or stray pencil mark point toward someone who once cared enough about a book to buy it and bring it home—even if money was tight or “home” was on the other side of the world.

    “I grew up in a small town with a tiny library that had two books on Russian and one on linguistics. This is a dream come true for me. All the prize money will be going to books. Every penny,” Carey added.

    Adil’s collection, titled “From Malaga to Miyagi: Collected Wisdoms of the Seeker,” reflects the travels of her life, beginning with her roots in India.

    “Moving across towns, countries and even continents with my family, I have lived in many different places. For me, such travel emerges as particularly telling of how people form relationships with one another, and how movement across borders, irrespective of whether it is external or internal journeying, transforms people,” Adil said.

    Adil noted that until very recently, she never made a concrete decision to mold her books into a collection. “For all the years I have been involved with such an endeavor, I finally feel like this will allow me to nurture a conversation with people who feel similarly excited when it comes to creating and shaping their respective book collections,” she said.

    In her application essay, Adil wrote, “I suppose one could argue that my tendencies to books involve some sort of anthropomorphism; yet to me, it is simply a manifestation of a humble individual’s quest for intellectual satiation.”

    Brooker, (A.M., ’89, Ph.D., ’96), created the Booker Prize in 1990 to encourage College students to collect and cherish books. Second- and fourth-year students are encouraged to apply annually, although if no applicants merit the prize, the selection committee is permitted to withhold awarding the prize.

    The Brooker Prize selection committee for 2006 comprises Philip Bohlman, the Mary Werkman Professor in Music and the College; Sem Sutter, Assistant Director for Humanities and the Social Sciences, Joseph Regenstein Library; fourth-year Benjamin Trofatter, a 2005 winner of the Brooker Prize; and Schreyer.

    The Brooker Prize committee does not weigh heavily the monetary value of a student’s collection, Schreyer explained, but rather focuses on the level of thoughtfulness and creativity students put into the titles they choose to include in their collections.

    In addition to writing an essay, Brooker Prize applicants host two members of the selection committee in viewing their collection first-hand.

    “We really learn so much from watching these students interact with their books and talking with them about their collection,” Schreyer said. “It’s really extraordinary to see their enthusiasm and passion.”