“Blind Date with a Book” coupled over a hundred novels with students


Courtesy of Seana Shelby

“Blind Date with a Book” is expected to return in February during the week of Valentine’s Day.

As senior Rachel Spektor walks past the library doors, she spots a shelf of books wrapped neatly in brown paper. She pauses to read the descriptions on one of the packages: “space mission, gone wrong, one survivor, stuck on Mars.” Curious to find out more, Spektor grabs the book off the shelf and proceeds to check it out. A week later, “The Martian” has her hooked.

Spektor is one of the many students who participated in SCHS library’s Blind Date with a Book, in which a student picks a book solely based on a few descriptions. It was started two weeks ago and carried on to last week.

Teacher-librarian Seana Shelby was the one who first came up with this idea. She got her inspiration from other bookstores and public libraries participating in similar programs as well as pictures on Pinterest. According to library media assistant Elaine Watkins, the purpose of this program is to not only let students have fun, but also encourage them to read on their own.

“I think [the librarians] are trying to get more people to be more excited about reading books. Just because they can, not because someone made them,” Spektor said.

The first step for setting up Blind Date with a Book was picking the books. Shelby said she tried to pick out good novels with bad covers, as she wanted to emphasize not judging a book by its cover.

“All human beings have a tendency to go toward what’s visually appealing, but what the art department decides doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s in the book,” Shelby said.

Shelby and Watkins then put a bookmark inside each book for students to “rate” their blind dates. According to Watkins, the bookmarks will be entered in a raffle for mystery prizes.

And to prepare the books for the shelves, Shelby and Watkins wrapped the books and tied pieces of twine. On the wrapping paper, they made sure to write four words or phrases to encompass the most important themes of the book so that the student would have a general idea about what the book would be about. Their last step was to put a barcode on the back for checkout purposes.

The entire preparation took them hours, but their hard work paid off: At least 145 books were checked out in less than two weeks, which was a lot more than than they expected.

“At the beginning, I honestly had no idea if only one or two people would pick up a book,” Shelby said. “I only had 47 books prepared on the first day.”

However, they have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the students. Watkins said many students asked for sequels to the books they picked or wanted to go on a blind date with another book. Students have also been sharing their experiences on social media.

“Students would pose with books to post online, which I thought was really cute,” Shelby said.

Shelby and Watkins plan to host this program again in February during the week of Valentine’s Day.

Spektor encourages other students to participate in the Blind Date with a Book program. She believes there is something exciting about embracing “the fear of reading unknown books.”

“You might find your new favorite book or something that speaks to you,” Spektor said.