I’ve written in this space before about the problem of having too many books, when storage becomes an issue, and good ways to find new homes for them.
Today I’ll discuss an idea for a related problem: How to dispose of books you no longer want, not because you have no room for them but simply because they didn’t meet your expectations or because, having read them once, you have no need or desire to read them again.
My suggestion: Hold a book exchange party! Invite a bunch of friends and, if your living room is large enough, neighbors, co-workers, and even casual acquaintances as well. You can make the party be a pot luck, so your only contribution is one food dish and disposable tableware, napkins, plates, and cups. Or you can schedule it for after dinner or mid-afternoon, so you need supply only snacks and cold drinks, or coffee and some kind of pastry. But tell all your invitees to bring all the books they no longer want.
If you’re expecting only a small number of people and a relatively small number of books, you can just clear a coffee table or set up a bridge table and have everyone place their books there. If you’re expecting more people and more books, you might want to make signs to designate one area for fiction and a separate area for nonfiction, and perhaps an area for children’s books, too. If your guests include a lot of parents you can even create one area for picturebooks and one area for books for older kids.
Then, after everyone has arrived and placed their no-longer-wanted books on the table, your guests can start rummaging through the books and selecting the books they’d like to take home with them.
After the refreshments and the book grab, you and your guests can discuss the relative merits of the books you’ve read recently and enjoyed. If your guests are into playing games, you can pass out pieces of paper on which you’ve scramble titles of 10 well-known books (example: RUCHLBRKEEY NINF for HUCKLEBERRY FINN) and award a prize to the player who is first to correctly unscramble all 10. The prize doesn’t have to be something splashy and expensive. One appropriate suggestion is a $10 gift certificate to your local bookstore or gift card from Amazon.com.
Or keep the party short—say, an hour and a half—and after the book grab and refreshments, let everyone hurry home to read their newly acquired treasures!