By tamaraDid you know that August 9 is National Book Lover’s Day? It’s the perfect excuse to find a soft spot and read your favorite novel. Personally, my favorite place to get lost in a book is a warm bath, but it doesn’t come without some dangers. I have been known to doze off and drop my book in the water, or get so wrapped up in the story that I forget how long I have been in the tub. I usually snap back to reality when I start to shiver from the cold water and my toes have turned to prunes. Books are a wonderful way to escape, especially when you need a break from school or work. They can transport you to an alien world or bring back memories long forgotten. There’s something soothing about feeling the worn edges of a favorite book slip between your fingers. Of course, most people now consume their literature electronically, but that doesn’t lessen the power of the written word. And now, there’s an additional benefit to being a bonafide bookworm…scholarships! If you have a true thirst for reading, you can turn the pages of these books into another kind of paper — free money for college. 1. Ayn Rand — Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest High school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students can enter this essay contest. There are 85 prizes available, with a top award of $10,000. By the way, don’t let the size of this book intimidate you. It’s actually quite interesting. Deadline: October 24. 2. Common Reading Essay Contest Incoming freshmen at Florida International University will want to check out “No Turning Back” at the Green Library MMC or Hubert Library BBC. There are three prizes available ($100, $150 and $200), which could help buy some other books they may need…textbooks. Deadline: February 13. 3. Ayn Rand — Anthem Essay Contest Students who are currently enrolled in eighth, ninth, or tenth grade are eligible for this essay contest. There are a total of 236 awards available, ranging in value from $30 to $2,000 each. Thankfully, this book is much smaller than “Atlas Shrugged.” Deadline: March 20. 4. Annual Signet Classic Student Scholarship Essay Contest High school juniors and seniors may submit an essay addressing one of the six topics about this year’s competition book, “Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.” Five $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. Deadline: April 25. 5. Ayn Rand — Fountainhead Essay Contest This book is actually one of the smaller texts written by Ayn Rand. There are a total of 236 prizes available for current high school juniors and seniors. The top award is $10,000! Deadline: April 26. Additional Opportunities These are just a few essay contests based on books that are currently accepting applications. Later this fall (September 1), the 2nd Annual Horse Sense Essay Contest will open to students between the ages of 18 and 22, but it’s slightly different from the above-mentioned contests. Although you must still read a specific book, you simply have to choose a quote and reword it for the chance to win $1,000. Another opportunity for bookworms, the Failure to Promise Essay Contest recently concluded its 2014 competition, but it will be open again next spring. High school students, undergraduate and graduate students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher are eligible to apply. If you enjoy reading and writing, be sure to also check out your local library and literary guilds for additional contests and scholarship opportunities.