Five Steps to a Brilliant Book Swap Party

A few months ago I accidentally bought two copies of a novel I was anxious to read. I should give it to someone, I thought. Wait, I should trade it with someone. Wait, no, I should have a book trading party!

I have been challenged by the solitude of my new writing life. I love it here in San Francisco where we have such a vibrant community of writers (SF Writer’s Grotto, Litquake, 826 Valencia, and so much more.) Still, I do miss seeing my friends from other walks of life.

So, in a fit of haphazard craziness, I sent out an electronic invitation and held a book swap party! It was satisfying. It was entertaining. I visited with a diverse group of friends. We each left with an exciting new book to read, and I donated a box of books to a local shelter. I will definitely host another party, and you should too! Here is how:

bookswap Five Steps to a Brilliant Book Swap Party

  1.  Invitation list, think book-lovers! Who have you spoken with about a great read? They need to be there! If you know a lot of families you might want to welcome kids. My daughter hosted a less formal children’s/ YA book swap in another room.
  1. In the invitation describe your guidelines—maybe a genre or time period. I requested guests bring a fairly recent favorite book of any genre. Remind everyone it is not a book dump. It is an opportunity to share a favorite book, the one they can’t stop talking about.
  1. Ask guests to write a short review of their book. Remember to provide pens and (recycled!) sticky notepads on the book table.
  1. Serve snacks so guests can mingle and discuss books before the actual swap. You can even make it fun with a literary theme. We served Mint Juleps. Can you guess why?
  1. Determine a swap process. It should reward those who brought desirable books. Our process was the following:
  • Whoever has the closest birthday chooses the first book they want.
  • Whoever brought that book gets to choose next. And so on.
  • If someone gets a second turn before everyone has selected a book, they get to choose who goes next.

I hope to see you at a book swap soon!


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