Blind Date … With a Book!
It is that time of the year again! The time when Mill Bay storefronts are turned into a gooey display of heart shaped chocolate boxes and boyfriends and/or girlfriends are freaking out about what to get their significant other who they’ve been dating for a week and a half. Beyond the Brentwood Learning Commons, this is all true, but inside, it seems Ms Mais and Ms Handley have a different approach to Valentine’s Day.
Blind Date with a Book has commenced and here is how it works: a selection of books on display are wrapped beautifully in brown paper making it impossible to judge the book by its cover. On the outside of the book there is a sticky note with a vague description of what is inside. For example, the book that I picked up said “If a book nerd and an English teacher got together and wrote a book, 22476”. No author, title, or further information is given which is the excitement and mystery of it all.
Ms Mais and Ms Handley worked as a dynamic duo to complete the task of packaging nearly a hundred books; Ms Mais wrapped and Ms Handley wrote the clues. When speaking with Ms Mais, she explains that this amusing activity not only “teaches students that you shouldn’t necessarily judge a book by its cover” but it also encourages students to “try different genres”. Furthermore, the task of choosing a book blindly can “open up new possibilities. It’s just a fun way to make it different”.
Introduced approximately five years ago by Ms Handley in hopes of being a fun Learning Centre activity for Valentine’s Day, Blind Date with a Book has been a success ever since. Some of Ms Handley’s elusive sticky notes include: “I can blank people out” “It’s me I’m having trouble escaping”, or “If Sherlock & Agatha got together, this would be their daughter” and “Before ‘Brave New World’... Before ‘1984’... there was…”. Every hint is intriguing, ambiguous, and alluring.
As far as blind dates go, mine went pretty well. I was lucky enough to get “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan which had been, coincidentally, already recommended to me by the legendary Mr Collis (the sticky note foretold it). For those students who have yet to pick up a blind read, I leave you with this: sure you could get a hot date for Valentine’s Day and spend it at a fancy restaurant, but does it not sound appealing to run a hot bath instead, light some candles, and crack open the spine of a quality book? Yeah, that’s what I thought — go get yourself a book!
Zosia S, Hope ‘21