As one of the requirements for the "traditional" research project, students are required to read a novel, do some research, and write a thesis/paper on it. The first step, though, is the reading. Students must read their novel over January and February, and prove to me that they've read it by March. While I used to require a written essay, this proved too cumbersome because a) it was too long of a project for me to read and b) it was too easy for students to cheat. Now, I have a much easier way; I meet with all the students who read novels and simply ask them to tell me about their story for five minutes. It's quick, easy, and difficult to fake. In fact most students either read...or crack under pressure almost immediately.
Of course the purpose isn't really to interrogate at all, but to talk with the students individually for a change. Even though I'm free time-wise, on a typical day it's very difficult for me to talk for any length of time with students in classes. I'll shush the loud ones and chat with the engaged ones, but many either work silently, or disengage passively, and don't elect for conversation. Even though it's only for a few days, by virtue of everyone else being in the library, it's great to say "top of the morning" to the students individually today.