The English Undergraduate Association hosted a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” event on Thursday, Jan. 19, where people could swap books with other students to refresh their collections. The EUA also welcomed students to just stop by and chat with others about their favorites and pick up a free book — or two.
Julia Li, the EUA president, said she wanted to create an inclusive environment for everyone interested in books regardless of their major. (Editor’s Note: Julia Li is a Thresher Arts & Entertainment senior writer.)
“Rice is very focused on STEM, which is great, but at the same time, there are a lot of people who love to read just for fun who don’t always have the time to squeeze in an English class,” Li, a Brown College junior, said. “We wanted to do something that didn’t just include English majors and really just increase awareness about the English department, increase the impact of humanities organizations and get people back into leisure reading. Also, people here have good taste in books, so we want to spread that,” Li said.
According to EUA Treasurer Riley Combs, the EUA’s goal with all of their events is to increase literary interactions across campus.
“[The EUA] wanted to create a social event where people come up and drop books, we give opinions on the books they bring and share a laugh or opinion,” Combs, a Brown College sophomore, said. “You meet new people and get their opinions on books, and it’s really cool because we don’t really have a setting for that outside of class.”
Ellie Cha, the EUA secretary, said that the event’s turnout was impressive, and many students expressed their interest in another book exchange event.
“It was definitely a plus that the weather was perfect that day. I was just so happy to see everyone, both English and non-English majors, talk about their recommendations and get excited for literature,” Cha, a Hanszen College sophomore, said. “We definitely have more events planned for the spring semester and hope to see everyone again.”
Li recalls atttempting the event last year, but it was ineffective. Li’s goal going into this year’s book swap was to increase outreach.
“We ended up last year just putting a box outside of Herring Hall and letting people come and go. We found that to be pretty ineffective because the English lounge is pretty hard to find, and [nobody was] going to lug over that many books with no incentive of food,” Li said.
Combs seconded Li’s sentiment, expanding on the improvements that the EUA tried to execute for this year’s book swap.
“I think last year was the trial run of an idea … and this year is the realization of the actual thing we wanted to accomplish,” Combs said. “Last year when I went to drop off a book, I just left the book there and walked away, and it faded into oblivion for all I know. So actually being able to see people come over, see what books they bring [and take] and be able to talk to them about it is really what we set out to do.”
CG Marinelli, co-Vice President of the EUA, credited this year’s book swap success largely due to the donations received.
“Our first book swap was such a success due in large part to students’ generous donations, and we’re looking forward to making this an annual event for the Rice community,” Marinelli, a Hanszen College senior, said.
Echoing Li’s earlier comment about spreading taste in books, members of the EUA and book swap participants ended the event by recommending some of their favorite literature to the Thresher.
“Beartown” by Frederick Backman
“It’s super good, really immersing and a quick read too. Anyone who is looking to get back into reading would get into this book. This book is really for anyone who is interested in readings or just wants to read in general. There’s so many characters, it’s so good,” Li said.
“Luster” by Raven Leilani
“This is one of my favorite books of recent years. It’s a very interesting real story of life and relationships. It’s also just insanely entertaining and well written. I think it is the perfect example of a book that you can read quickly and enjoy and still get a lot from,” Combs said.
“Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward
“I had to read it my junior year of highschool and it really stuck with me because of how visceral the descriptions are and [Ward] is a really good writer. 10/10 would recommend,” Nithya Ramcharan, a Lovett College sophomore, said.
“Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“I really like it because it talks a lot about the mental state of being really involved in an activity and I think that is really interesting because you can apply to so many different places,” Saloni Dalal, a sophomore from Brown, said.