Summary: Bring a book you liked, pitch it to the crowd, then trade your book for a book someone else brought that sounded good. This has no specific rationalist content.

Tags: Repeatable, medium

Purpose: Get people talking about books they read and encountering new ones. 

Materials: A whiteboard or piece of paper with a clipboard, plus appropriate writing implement. A timer. (Or a smartphone with a timer app.) 

Announcement Text: 

Hello all!

I read a lot of books, which presents me with two problems. First, I constantly need recommendations for more books to read, and second, I constantly want to share books with other people so I'll be able to talk about the book with them. I would like to solicit your help with both of these problems. To that end, I’m hosting a book swap. The rules are simple. Bring a book. By the end of the night, leave with a book that isn't the one you brought.

Advice on choosing your book: The only two hard restrictions on your choice of book is that 1. it must be a physical book, the kind you could put into someone else's hand, and 2. it must be for an English speaking audience. Given my social groups I expect certain literary preferences will exist but, well, you're invited, and you like the books you like, so feel free to pick any book you like and it's quite plausible someone else has the same tastes as you.

We will have a whiteboard or similar writing surface. As you arrive, write your name and the title of your book on it. Then at the appointed time, we'll start running through the list- when it's your turn, you'll have two minutes by-the-clock to pitch why people should read your book. Then the swapping will begin in earnest! Please feel free to ask people questions about their books, talk about what kinds of books you like, or just hang out and socialize about anything else.


As they arrive, make sure to collect people’s names and books. Stack the books in a spot where everyone can see them, in order if possible. Flip the stack (so the first person’s book is now on top) right before pitching the books. 

When it’s time to pitch books, be handy with a timer. You should be cheerfully ruthless about cutting people off once they run out of time, though two minutes tends to be enough that many people will finish with time to spare.


This event mostly runs itself, which makes it a great pick if you’re a new organizer.

It’s marked as Repeatable, but you should pay attention to how fast people in your group tend to read books. The best cases are when they have time to read the book they took, and can bring that book back to pitch again. I would very roughly say that a month to two months is ideal.

The announcement assumes an English speaking audience. This event will work just fine in other languages, but it’s useful to pick a language you expect everyone to read fluently. If for some reason you don’t have a common lingua franca in your group, maybe pass on this. 

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