Perhaps your winter is full of wintery things to do, such as scraping the ice off your car's windshield or catching snowflakes with your tongue when no one is looking. But nothing will make your winter complete than a comfy couch, a cup of hot-buttered rum and a good book on your lap. The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) knows that, which is why every first Thursday of December it hosts an adult reading program called "Spilled Ink: the book club for the rest of us."
"Essentially, all you need to do is go into your library account, click to register, and read 10 books between the beginning of December and end of February," said Kristen Krueger-Corrado, marketing and communications manager at GRPL.
Participants keep track of their books with an online log. If certain points are hit, participants are eligible for different prizes.
"You can read books, and listen to audio books. You can read anything interests you, so fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels — really whatever you are interested in."
This program started "many, many years ago" with the thought that winter was "just a great time to read a book." The name of the program changed several times since the time it was thought up, but it became what it is called today six years ago.
"'Spilled ink' is a literary term used when people or writers mean 'I've written something today.' We just thought it would be fun way to talk about the written word in a different way," Krueger-Corrado said.
Last year, Spilled Ink had around 2,000 participants. From that number, 1,500 readers finished reading 10 books. The prizes ranged from limited-edition buttons, a Spilled Ink mug, as well as an Amazon Kindle. This year, the online registration begins Nov. 25. In order to register, a GRPL account or library card is needed, which is free to obtain.
After registering, all one has to do next is to log each book read online. The reading kick-off is Dec. 5 and runs until Feb. 28, 2014. The website not only allows one to rate and review the books one has logged, but also shows the prizes one has earned through reading, which can be picked up at any GRPL location.
"You get a prize when you sign up, you get a prize halfway through ... and one at the end when you have read 10," Krueger-Corrado said. "And you are also eligible to be entered drawing for additional prizes. This year, we are putting together price tags for people who have won, but then you will be also eligible to enter for drawings for Experiencing Grand Rapids. It might be something to go out to eat or a gift card to Schulers Books."
But before jumping into Spilled Ink, there is a very basic question left to be answered: what is there to read? The wise council of local librarians is more than willing to discuss. The first Thursday of every month, the GRPL staff logs on into the GRPL Facebook page for a whole day of Book Banter. They are there to answer questions, recommend some great titles or merely converse about books. Another place worth checking out is the GRPL Pinterest page, which is filled with if-you-liked-this-try-that recommendations. But if the warmth of human breath is preferred, one can always just come directly to the library, for the people there are always happy help.
A person's motive for reading may vary. Some read for information, some to compete and challenge themselves, and there are also those who read for the sake of it. Spilled Ink is for all those people.
"Maybe I say this because I work in a library, but a lot of people read for pleasure; they just love to read. And if you are going to be reading anyways, you might as well be rewarded for it," Krueger-Corrado said. "It will be a lot of fun."