Students celebrate upcoming National Book Review Month with homemade bookmarks

The weather is getting colder, the holiday season is approaching and Geneseo students are starting to feel that end-of-semester stress. As things start to pick up, it’s important to remember to take some time for yourself—and what better way to recharge than curling up with a good book? The Geneseo Writers’ House, located in the North Village at Seneca Hall, hosted a DIY Bookmarking event on Tuesday Nov. 15. Students made and decorated their own bookmarks, drank cups of hot tea and entered for a chance to win a Barnes & Noble gift card. But besides providing an opportunity to relax and to get a little crafty, the event was also in preparation for National Book Review Month, which is coming up in February.

NaRMo is a month dedicated to the all-too-often neglected practice of reading, writing and sharing book reviews. The literary celebration was started here at Geneseo a year ago by assistant professor of English Lytton Smith, along with English major senior Nicole Sheldon and Editor and Production Manager Allison Brown. This year, junior English major Heather Molzon has joined the NaRMo team and together, she and Sheldon put on the DIY Bookmarking event.

Many readers forget to consider the importance of a good—or bad—book review. As students, we’re all on a tight schedule, so setting aside time to read may already be a challenge. This is where NaRMo comes in. Reviews can be useful in quickly finding that book you know you’re really going to enjoy.

Writing a review can also be particularly valuable and rewarding for any bookworm out there. Putting your thoughts down on paper in the form of a review can bring clarity to your own understanding of what you’ve read, and it can provide an opportunity to let the world know about a book you loved. Even if the review isn’t all positive, it encourages critical thinking, it enhances the ability to analyze a work and it can help a reader to determine the kinds of literature they like most—not to mention it helps others to decide whether or not to read a particular book.

The bookmarking event in Writers’ House was a way to encourage people to pick up a book during these busy times and to bring it home with them over break. Then, students can write a review when they come back to Geneseo at the end of January—just in time for NaRMo.

Students post reviews on the NaRMo website, with categories including fiction, drama, poetry and even children’s books. Reviews can be posted on the website at any time, but the NaRMo team has plans to fill the month of February with different literary-related events. There will be cozy, laid-back events similar to the one on Tuesday in addition to possible readings or speakers visiting the college.

Molzon and Sheldon said that although this tradition is only in its second year, they hope to grow and expand it with more campus events, the power of social media and—most of all—student support. Their goal is to put it on the map alongside other widely celebrated literary “months,” such as National Poetry Month and National Novel Writing Month.

It is projects like NaRMo that help create depth and intellectual diversity in the Geneseo campus and community. If NaRMo can encourage students to get the ball rolling in February, think of the positive impact it could have on the academic careers of its participants. So pick your book for winter break and be sure to leave room in your calendar on Jan. 31 for the NaRMo launch party—you’ll be sure to start the spring semester ahead of the game.