On January 6th, I hosted my very first book swap party!
It was a huge success, a lot of fun, and also a good learning experience. I was actually really surprised by how big of a crowd there was and how warm of a response! For what feels like the thousandth time, I wanna thank everyone for the huge show of support.
The event was hosted at New Women Space, a community venue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. New Women Space opened in the fall of last year, and their mission is all about providing a space for women to work, create, and grow. I was excited to be throwing the Book Swap there and knew it would be a great fit.
From the start of the night right up to the very end, there was a constant stream of chatter and mingling. It was a time for people to unite over a common interest: books! (Which is a neat segue to engaging conversation.) All night long, the room bustled with energy, with great music playing in the background, provided thanks to our awesome DJ of the night: Shawnee of Wild Chics.
"This was the first time I went out somewhere and no one asked me about what I do for a living," one girl told me after the event, relieved.
I got a ton of similar comments from other happy booklovers, which really warmed my heart. People thanked me for putting the book swap together, bonded over the cool novels they had received, and expressed having had a lot of fun!
We tried (and succeeded, I think) in making things cozy. The lights were dimmed, with a string of Christmas lights along the ground behind the DJ section and panel seats. On one table were platters of cookies and chips; on the other was a growing pile of books ready to be swapped and delivered to new owners. Stools and couches were positioned around the room, and at one point there were more people than seats. Upstairs in the lobby were an assortment of drinks, ranging from nonalcoholic sodas and water to beer and wine.
The Book Swap Party had pretty simple rules: each guest brings a book, and at the end of the night, everyone gets a new one! Guests were instructed to put their books into paper bags and seal it with a note. There was a table set aside for people to leave their sealed packages throughout the night and it filled up pretty fast!
On the colored notecards, I suggested that everyone try to cover three main points: explaining their selection, providing a content warning out of courtesy, and leaving their contact information if they desired. Throughout the night, everyone made a trip to the back table, tucked their book inside a bag, and stapled their scribbled note to the outside.
For swapping purposes, I figured the easiest way would be to give everyone a random package, but what actually happened is that each person used the notes as a way to decipher what to take home. Which is smart actually, and probably the better system!
A few people even brought extra reading selections, which I wasn't necessarily prepared for, but I've decided that next time I'll let people stack a small pile of "bonus books."
I had such an amazing time paneling yesterday for the Book Swapping Party at @newwomenspace I can't wait for the next one by @cinniie! Shout out to @reddaughter of @wildchics_ for the chunes 🎶 #bookswapparty #lanacmarilyn #cinniie #lbxe #brooklyn #newwomenspace #books📚 #newyearnewme #newyork #definitelydead #nickcarr #astrology #panel #music #wildchics #empoweringwomen
The Book Swap was just the third of a series of self-funded literary themed programs I've been putting together since July.
My goal is to organize a consistent (monthly?) program of events in efforts to develop a platform for people to share their literary work in ways that are new and engaging. Down the line, I'd like to further my efforts by launching open mics, writing workshops, and continuing to expand the outreach of The Lit Exhibit, my writing gallery. There'll be more Book Swaps in the future too, of course. There's plenty more to come!
I also had the honor of moderating
a panel of amazing women of color,
all of whom are excellent writers
and were kind enough to speak that evening.
Thank you again to everyone that came out to Lana C. Marilyn's Book Swapping Party! It was a pleasure to share the first ever event with creative minds and beautiful souls. Special thanks to all the panelists too! 💕@unratedebony @edwards_iz @lifewithjrdn @divyamper @charmedcastor @sapodillaunleashed 📷: @reddaughter
We covered quite a lot! The panel lasted just about an hour and a half, and discussed the creative process, the connections between culture and our art, and the value of women's stories in a world where our voices go unheard, underappreciated or ignored. Our panelists brought their unique perspectives, each informed by their various passions, studies, cultures, and professions.
I tried my best to ask insightful questions. There was a lot of material I actually didn't get to cover, and questions I wish we could've dedicated more time to. But I undoubtedly learned a lot about and from each of the women who spoke, about the pride they put into their work and the efforts they make towards gaining exposure and being their best selves. I also gained a ton of firsthand knowledge that I can carry forward the next time I want to spotlight a lineup of great women doing noteworthy things. I hope that our audience walked away feeling perhaps empowered, enlightened and inspired. That the conversation may carry on outside of that space.
The Raffle! Bonus Books for a Lucky Winner.
A couple of the panelists are self published and had extra copies of their print work to share. I donated the second of only two print copies in existence of my book, Wet Sand in an Hourglass. I also tossed in an extra copy of my zine. Other donated works came from Najia Khaled, Divya M. Persaud, Miri Castor, Jackie Brettschneider, Sapodilla and a cute journal from Ebony Anderson-Brown!
To Learn More About The Panelists:
On the Facebook Event Page, I included brief bios / photos / links for each writer who spoke on the panel. It's public so it should still be viewable even without an account.
Just in case though, below you can find their names and pictures - which I've made clickable to link to their respective sites!