The Beauty of Holiday Book Swaps

One of my favorite parts of the holidays is the tradition of the Secret Santa Book Swap. It is the perfect marriage of the holiday spirit and sharing the book that stole your heart this year. While I was living abroad in Asia, I could not find a fiction book group that lived up to the wonderful standards of the mimosa brunch clu-, I mean, book club, that I’d left behind in Portland, Maine. I loved those ladies and most of the books that they suggested. So, while abroad I listened to a wonderful book podcast called Books on the Nightstand. It’s such a fun, unpretentious, book geek’s podcast, that I listened to it weekly, read their suggestions, and it started to feel like my book group without a book group. Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman from Books on the Nightstand get their listeners involved in lots of fun activities, such as a summer reading bingo game, and even run amazing book lovers’ gatherings appropriately titled Booktopia. But one of my favorite traditions is their listener Secret Santa Book Swap. Via their Goodreads group, listeners sign up and then, via a separate passworded site, they are matched with a book lover secret santa. Again this year I messaged with a lovely fellow book-lover while participating. She found out that I love short stories, and sent me a luxurious hardcover copy of Alice Munro’s Family Furnishings. Even if you “bah humbug” gift exchanges, do listen to the free podcast books by the Books on the Nightstand crew sometime.The fun hosts know their books, but they keep it friendly and down-to-earth. Find out more about them here: http://booksonthenightstand.com.

Having done used book swaps with previous book group and writing groups, this year I was pleased to introduce the tradition to my inspiring and supportive Houston Writers Guild critique circle. This group of writers has given me so much insight, that it was a fun and affordable way to honor them this holiday season at the end of our mid-December critique meeting. We each brought a used book that we had not written (or edited) ourselves. We wrapped them without cards so that no one would pick the book that their bestie brought, and put them in a big red bag. Then each writer drew out a b0ok and opened it. We were all surprised by the books we received. I received a copy of Pirsig classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I skimmed it years ago, but I look forward to giving it a proper read as an adult who can appreciate its nuances. My writing group enjoyed the swap and I hope that the December book swap tradition endures.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my reading and writing friends. You have limited time and a million diversions to choose from, and I appreciate your interest in my books, my blog and my stories. I hope that Santa brings you a juicy novel this year, or that you receive a good book for each and every night of Hanukkah.

Happy holidays and happy reading!

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