I’ve loved reading since I was a child, and I’m pretty sure there are well over 100 books at our house. Though it sounds cliché, reading offered me – a bullied kid – the opportunity to create new worlds in my head.
As an adult, I’ve kept my love for reading (and writing), but it’s become more of a continuing education practice than a leisure activity. I love the emotional high I get when I step into the library to pick out a new book. Most times, I end up with more titles than I can carry and the huge stack I’m balancing under my chin ends up falling to the floor. Every once in a blue moon, I get the funds (and the child-free freedom) to go to a brick and mortar bookstore.
I hope more than anything that my children will see me reading through the years and share my love for literature and learning. In hopes of making this dream come true, I try to get them new books regularly.
But my love for reading expands far beyond my household. It’s also a pleasure to share the books I love with close friends and family. Each new book gives me new material for engaging fodder.
The downside is, I suck at remembering to pass on books to friends. My life could be so much easier if I could have an all-in-one opportunity to discuss plots and exchange books with friends. So you can imagine the joy I felt upon finding out “Book Swap” parties are a thing. I mean come on! How can life be any better than getting new books for free? I’ll tell ya! Free books, hanging with friends, and planning the chance to do it all over again.
How it works
This is one of those rare times the title tells you exactly what something is.
Imagine Dirty Santa — with books. You can keep clean and have everyone pick numbers. Or you can make it dirty and get ready to steal titles from others in the group. *insert evil laughter*
During a Book Swap party, you get together with a small (or large if you’re adventurous) group of friends. Each of you brings a book and prepares to leave with a new one through trading.
According to Cindy Jenkins in Orlando, her Book Swap party experience was… one for the books. *wink, wink*
“A friend did it for a birthday party and I loved it,” she said.
It’s an awesome idea, and I can’t wait for the chance to give it a try. It combines two of my favorite things: being cheap and filling my bookshelves.
“We just brought them for a two-year-olds party and put our books on the shelf by the door. It was fun to choose new ones and we also got a little giddy when people liked the ones we brought. My 4-year-old thought it was great fun,” added Cindy.
Side note: A Book Swap is not to be confused with a book club. One involves picking a title in advance and reading and discussing it as a group. The other is a specific event with the intention of trading books. That’s not to say that you can’t do a Book Swap with your Book club members.
“Everyone brought a book, preferably used, wrapped, and we took turns picking new ones. It was a really fun idea! Nearly everyone was happy with what they walked away with (the exception being that one person brought a cookbook instead of a “reading” book, and the person who ended up with it was a little disappointed). It was cool because it meant we all got exposed to books that we otherwise might have never picked up on our own, but which came with a personal recommendation from a friend, Holly S. recalled.
In the unlikely event that words BOOK SWAP and PARTY aren’t enough to convince you, here are a few reasons we should all pack up our favorite hardcovers and schedule a book swap party ASAP.
The first reason is pretty freaking obvious. Buying new books is a ridiculously expensive habit to finance. And not everyone has easy access to a library. Through the years, I’ve been shocked to find how few people (even some of my closest friends and family members) go to the library less than once a year. And depending on where you’re located, your library’s contents may not be fully up to date.
But chances are, your local bibliophile has a selection — complete with best sellers and call catalogue — to rival your local library.
As pointed out here, you can do so much more than swap books at the book swap party. I mean, trading books is cool AF, but the potential for the event is about more than books (though books alone is reason enough). Of course, we can have snacks (what’s a party without food?), but it’s also a great time for exhausted folks to get together and spend time talking about one of the longest existing arts the world has to offer. There’s something totally zen about the opportunity to turn off the phones and tablets and connect with like-minded people.
I personally prefer hard copies of books. But isn’t it awesome to consider that audio books and mp3 files are also eligible for the swap? Or get this [looks off thoughtfully into the distance]: what if we even listened to a book while we swapped them and did trivia at the end to see who’s been listening?!
Nothing is off limits.
It’s totally possible to have themed book swaps that give the chance to trade self-help, parenting, or even erotica titles. But the better news is it doesn’t have to have a theme. It doesn’t even have to be for adults only.
It would be super easy to use this as a chance to get our kid’s libraries whipped into shape. It’s also a great way to make sure that our children are exposed to diverse characters, materials that encourage understanding of other cultures, and overall support for people that are different.
There’s no shortage of reasons for us to have Book Swap parties. I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of it until recently. Hopefully, all of us get the chance to engage with good people and good books soon.
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