Applestein-Sweren Book Collecting Prize

“I had people for years after the  movie opened come to me and say, ‘I know exactly where you shot that…I know that town.'” Robert Mulligan, director of the movie adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird.

In 2012, my dear friend Lily and I co-won First Place in the Applestein-Sweren Book Collecting Prize. This was a great honor and I’m still thrilled that I placed at all! I am so grateful to Betty and Edgar Sweren for funding the prize and for serving as judges that year.

I have also just discovered that my essay for the collection is hosted by Goucher College’s Digital Library, so if you’d like to read a much more professional, though still sincere, description of the early collection, check it out:

I Know That Town: To Kill A Mockingbird.

The collection was so small then. With the prize money and general encouragement I got from the Swerens, I now have 28 editions of To Kill A Mockingbird in seven languages. I have art inspired by the book and movie, movie memorabilia, books of academic essays on TKAM, Young Adult and Middle Grade novels engaging with TKAM etc etc. The collection has grown from its original general intention of collecting by cover and edition to collecting anything related to the book that catches my attention or that I think will expand my understanding of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love comparing covers across languages and decades. It’s maybe the most interesting part of the collection. But I also love exploring the way people engage with and celebrate the book in art. I suggested this as a possible direction for the collection in the essay, but it’s become one of the strongest parts of it. Sometimes this “how people show their love” direction leads to the purchase of beautiful posters using images from the movie. Other times it leads to me buying a tiny replica of the original edition made for a dollhouse. People love this book and show it in so many interesting and weird ways.



On that note, I am taking suggestions for a proper name for this collection. The Kimura Collection of Harper Lee Books and Odds-and-Ends? I Know That Town: One Woman’s Attempt to Build a Castle out of To Kill A Mockingbird? “Sorry To My Future Children, Who Will Inherit This Collection and Be Tasked With Figuring Out What To Do With A Book For A Dollhouse”: The Camden Kimura Collection of Bizarre Harper Lee-Inspired Objects? I welcome your input!


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