Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Swap Bounty

I participated in my first book swap last night. A marvelous occasion. 

Can you spot any trends in the demographics that were present at the book swap based on the stack I brought home?

There was a huge Douglas Coupland fan present. My wife and I grabbed two of the three that he brought. Coupland is a new discovery for us, and we both can't wait to dive in.

There was also a father and son who appealed much to my sci-fi disposition. I have been wanting to read Starship Troopers for the last year (ever since I heard the book is completely different then the movie). All the better, I scored two Heinlein novels.

I had brought my extra copy of Dostoevky's short stories. Someone else brought The Gambler. Apparently anyone who actually reads Dostoevsky have an unspoken magnetism. As soon as the Swap began, the first two books picked up were each others Dostoevky's.

The other two books in the stack are Dickens A Christmas Carol and Jesus in the Margins.

Now I just have to cancel all my holds at the library.

Why do a Book Swap?

Despite how psyched I am about the books I scored, the best part of the group was seeing everyone open up and share their interests and opinions. It's a great way to begin new friendships, build deeper relationships with long time acquaintances, and discover shared interest and new insight about those closest to you. 

The fact that everyone walks away with a handful of new books and great recommendations is icing on the cake. 

Who to invite to a Book Swap?

Think of a few friends that you have geeked out on literature with. That friend who shares your interest in some obscure genre of fiction, the history buff, the life long student, or the the pop-fiction-ophile.   And then tell each of them to bring a friend or two. 

5-15 people is a good range to achieve breadth is selection of books while still keeping the intimacy high.

How to organize a Book Swap?

1) What to Bring: A snack to share and at least 3 books to swap. Preferably these are books that you have read and can recommend, but they should at least be relatively good books in good condition.
2) Prelude: When guests arrive - books remain in bags/boxes out of sight. Begin with some socializing (don't talk about the books brought) and snacking (15-30 minutes)
3) Introduction: Go around the group giving each person a chance to introduce and explain the books they brought (What is the hook, Why you liked it, How it impacted you... occasionally some history on When you read it makes things interesting.)
4) Swap: Spread out all the books on a table (or floor) and proceed to pick as many books as you brought. There doesn't need to be structure to this, but it doesn't hurt to remind people to be respectful and keeps things slow*.
5) Conclusion: Hang around to eat and talk some more. The spontaneous conversations that follow are an exhilarating rush of favorite authors, influential works, and great recommendations. 

*Some basic etiquette would be to pick up one book at a time, once your committed to keeping it, look around to see what others are picking up and chat with those around you before picking up your next book.

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