Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Jake Brunkard ’08, Mark Kharas ’08, and Trude Raizen ’08 are this year’s winners of the A. Edward Newton student book collection competition. Swarthmore’s Newton competition is the oldest college book collection competition in the nation. Students vying for the top three places submit annotated bibliographies of their book collection, which are judged by committee of librarians and a faculty member.
First-place winner Jake Brunkard’s collection consists of about 65 books published by Black Sparrow press, an independent press that publishes “underground” literature.
“In high school, I started reading “underground” Amerikan literature, most inspired by the countercultures of the Sixties, that represented people and places marginalized in the mainstream canon,” Brunkard said.
Brunkard intends to use his cash prize to purchase more Black Sparrow titles.
“Now that Black Sparrow is effectively closed, Black Sparrow books are increasingly hard to find,” Brunkard said. “With the support of this prize, I’m looking forward to the hunt.”
Mark Kharas’s collection “Quakerism: An Academic and Devotional Analysis of a Religion” won second place.
“My book collection is books about Quakerism or by Quakers, or in someway connected to Quakerism,” said Kharas. “I’m interested in it [Quakerism] because I’m a Quaker; I was born and raised a Quaker, and I’m also interested in Quakerism academically, as a religion major.”
Kharas began collecting when he was in middle school. His collection contains books suggested to him from his father, who is also a Quaker, and a lucky find from a McCabe book sale.
“It [my collection] includes a 3-volume set of books by William Penn published in 1825, which I’m really proud of,” Kharas said. “I bought the set for $6.00 from the Swarthmore library book sale, which they hold each year.”
Third-place winner Trude Raizen could not be reached by the Gazette. Her collection is titled, “”Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Assorted Baseball Books”.
Amanda Watson, Reference and Instruction intern at McCabe Library was a member of this year’s judging committee.
“This year we had 9 applications,” said Watson. “They kind of ran the gamut in subject material; there was a romance novel collection, and a really interesting Japanese collection. Some were very eclectic, and some were very focused.”
According to Watson, choosing this year’s winners was a difficult process.
“I’ve only been doing this for 2 years, but in my experience, you see a lot of different subjects that students have taken an interest in,” Watson said. “There are so many things that you learn just reading the applications, it can be quite tricky to narrow down.”