How to Host a Book Swap

Are your books taking over? It's time to clean house.
Are your books taking over? It's time to clean house.
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If you love the written word, you probably have a stash of books somewhere in your home. They might be jacketed and crammed into a bookcase or stacked in piles next to your favorite chair. It's a pretty good bet you have an eclectic mix of interests represented in those bound pages, too. A couple of biographies may be sharing space with the latest historical bodice-ripper or thriller (that guilty pleasure that kept you up reading through the wee hours of the morning).

To round out your reading life, you may have a few lifelong learning topics on hand, like a poetry collection, the latest easy-reading explanation of the big bang theory or a history of the French Revolution. And don't forget those how-to books, like the ones with the yellow and black covers that helped you stop the leak in the bathroom faucet and taught you the difference between a PVC and PCP. Oh, and if you like to peruse the book review section of the paper, you may even have a shelf dedicated to books you're planning on reading the next time you head out to the beach for a long weekend -- or when you have insomnia (and a touch of acid reflux) because that mini-vacation is too long in coming.

Those books say a lot about your world, about your culture and about you. There's always a new book around to capture your interest -- thank goodness. You can read that book at breakneck speed or take it tantalizingly slow. Read at the dentist's office, on the unemployment line or in the bathtub. The relationship between you and the author can be as intimate, profound, funny or outrageous as you want. You're the one making the emotional investment.

Books are a banquet, and when it comes to luscious descriptions and delicious dialogue, nothing beats sharing the wealth with a friend -- or lots of friends. That's where a book swap can make your reading life richer. Sure, you'll net a few more fun books to read, but you'll also be able to share your favorites with people who also think a great book is a moveable feast. If you never quite warmed up to the topic of sheep shearing, that's not a problem. One of your friends may be into wool in a big way and take that Australian ranching memoir off your hands.

If you're becoming alarmed at the price of new books, holding the occasional book swap can help keep your book budget out of the stratosphere. Everybody wins, and you can postpone the decision to convert to electronic media for your reading fix.