I really should create a category on this blog called “Better Late Than Never.” Sticking to a semi-regular posting schedule slipped down on my priority list of late, hence this post about a book-related fundraiser for a great organization comes about 2 weeks after it took place.
My friend Katie volunteers with Room to Read, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in developing countries. Founded by former Microsoft exec John Wood after his journey through Nepal, Room to Read funds programs to build schools and establish libraries in communities in Asia and Africa.
When Katie asked if she could use my building’s party room to host a “book swap auction” benefitting Room to Read, I gladly agreed. The concept was simple: guests bring books they’ve already read, and bid on “new to them” books. Bids started at $2 per book, and if more than one person was interested in a specific book, a bidding war would commence.
As people arrived, their books were put on display throughout the room. While nibbling on snacks and sipping our wine (shhh, don’t tell my building manager — we didn’t have a liquor license!), we chatted about the books — which big “must reads” were over-rated (Eat Pray Love, I’m looking at you), which good books had been turned into bad movies (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and when to give up on a book that’s just not doing it for you (Netherland, in my case).
It was fascinating to observe people evaluate the book choices in front of them — there was a lot of judging books by their covers, and I couldn’t help but think that anyone involved in publishing or bookselling should go “undercover” at an event such as this every now and then, just to hear unvarnished opinions about what makes a book stand out.
I picked up four books at the auction:
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
- On Writing, by Stephen King
- The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
- The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough, by the Smart Cookies
Hopefully I’ll have managed to read all of them by the next Room to Read Book Auction…