Winners of 26th annual book collection competition announced

Top row, left to right: graduate student winners Sarah Sobonya and John Gauthier. Bottom row: undergraduate winners Brian Feldman and Lauren Henley.

When Carl Neureuther, a 1940 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, set up an endowment in 1987 to support library collections, he was also ensuring support for something more: a lifelong love of reading.

He wanted to encourage students to read for pleasure — not just for class — and in addition to growing the University Libraries’ collection of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, Neureuther’s gift created an annual essay contest that invites students to share stories of their own passion for reading and collecting books.

Twenty-six years later, the results are in for this year’s Neureuther Student Book Collection Essay Competition sponsored by Washington University Libraries. WUSTL students entered their essays into undergraduate and graduate categories, competing for prizes of $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place. Four volunteers recruited from among the faculty of Washington University and the St. Louis community judged the essays.

This year, Sarah Sobonya, a PhD candidate in anthropology in Arts & Sciences, won first place in the graduate category for her essay titled “Keeping Abreast of the Literature.” John Gauthier, a first-year law student, took second place in the graduate category with “Arturo Belano and the Storybook War.”

In the undergraduate category, senior Brian Feldman (philosophy-neuroscience-psychology and classics in Arts & Sciences) won first place for his essay “A Muse for Recollection: On Collecting Ancient Greek Textbooks.” Sophomore Lauren Henley (history in Arts & Sciences) took second place with “Asthmatic and Alone: How Books Became My World.”

The 2013 winning essays, as well as an archive of past ones, are available on the Libraries’ website. An exhibit celebrating the winners’ book collections and essays also is on display in the lobby of Olin Library through early April.