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Sharing the Love: How to plan the Ultimate book swap

It’s the plight of the book-lover. Our shelves runneth over with our favorite novels, and yet we can’t seem to stop ourselves from acquiring more. As any book lover can attest, the fun parts are selecting, buying, and reading the books, but parting ways with your old tomes is always, inevitably, a drag. 

How to make your book goodbyes as butterfly-inducing as when you first locked eyes? With a party of course! We’re breaking down the basics so that your book swap will soon be such a success, your friends are clamoring for the next one. Obviously, scheduled for after you read all of your new finds!

Step 1: The Guest List

The most important step in planning a party is always deciding who should come, but for a book swap, this may be the easiest. Simply select your most avid book-lovers. The friends who saw no issue with camping outside of a bookstore when the last Harry Potter book came out? Definitely. The ones who always seem to have read the novel you brought to the pool? Absolutely! The teachers and librarians? A no-brainer!

Your fellow book-lovers will be just as excited as you are to share their favorite stories and make some new discoveries. Both in the written word and in new book buddies.

Step 2: The Space

You’ll want to provide as much horizontal space as possible in order to show off everyone’s selections. Ensuring that every book has its cover visible will allow for easy browsing. 

It’s also helpful to sort books by genre, or even sub-genre, so guests can easily find the books that appeal to them. Having a plan to organize books prior to everyone arriving will make the sorting process a breeze. To ensure there are no hard feelings, ask guests to wait until all of the books are sorted before they browse.

Step 3: Make it Personal

As any reader knows, a good book can become meaningful to its readers. Supply guests with a stack of index cards to include notes about their favorites (no spoilers!), or even just let them take the floor to give their books a short farewell. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Step 4: Don’t Skip the Snacks

Refreshments are vital for any good gathering, but that doesn’t mean you need to go crazy with a 7-course meal. Let the book swap take the stage and keep the noshes light and easy. No drippy sauces, no utensils required.

If you’re hoping to solidify your status as the supreme hostess of book swaps everywhere, you can play up the theme with some light foods and drinks inspired by the books themselves. Think honey cornbread to go with The Secret Lives of Bees, “Peeta” (pita) chips for The Hunger Games, and champagne for The Great Gatsby

Step 5: Stay Flexible

This is your book swap, so you can customize it however you like. Is there a book that multiple readers have their eye on? Keep a small stack of bookmarks on the table so that guests can use them to write down who gets that book next. 

Worried about keeping the conversation going? Be prepared with different conversation starters that keep with the theme, like asking guests about the last book that made them cry, their favorite “guilty pleasure” genre, or their all-time favorite literary character. 

Step 6: Parting Gifts

It’s hard to top going home with a stack of books that you can’t wait to dive into. But adding a little mystery to the party is sure to send guests home on a high note. Have each guest bring one book that’s wrapped up tight. Place each book in a basket by the door, and as your reading BFF’s make their way home, they can select a surprise book from the basket. There’s nothing like a little anticipation to keep that party high going all night long. 

Step 7: Keep Sharing

Having a plan for the leftover books is twofold. Firstly, it keeps your bookshelves from perpetually groaning over the weight of your book collection. Secondly, it allows your guests to know their books will end up in grateful hands no matter what. 

Nursing homes, prisons, soldiers stationed overseas,  and little free libraries are all great options for sharing your beloved reads. 

Step 8: Have Fun!

A book swap is a great way to make new connections with friends and to meet new people. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy all of your hard work prepping and planning. Afterward, you can reward yourself by curling up with a good book!