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Support Local: The Social Book Exchange is a book club for everyone, with beer

By Alison Larabie Chase on October 12, 2015

Alison Larabie Chase blogs about cooking and restaurants at This Dessert Life when she’s not herding cats, working in association communications, or traveling the world.  

book_exchange05Walk into Café My House the night of October 18 and you’ll be labeled with one of those “Hello, My Name Is” stickers. Instead of your name, though, they’ll write the name of the book you brought with you on it. Talk about identifying with what you love. It’s all part of the fun at the Social Book Exchange, an occasional event cooked up by the folks at Ottawa’s Antique Skate, a four-year-old skateboard shop in Centretown.

Organizer Aaron Cayer says the guys at the shop wanted to try something new to get people in the community meeting and mingling with one another. “Skateboarding is rough around the edges, as it should be, but as we’ve gotten older we find we want to do different things, so we decided hey, let’s do something totally not within the normal sphere of what a skateboard brand would do,” says Cayer.  So the idea of a social book club was born.

They’ve hosted several events at downtown restaurants over the past couple of years, but haven’t done one in a while, and Support Local month seemed like the perfect time to reprise the event.

How does it work? “Bring a book, maybe bring a friend, your name goes on the book and the name of your book goes on you – with those ‘Hi my name is’ stickers – and the point of that is to try to get people to socialize. It adds an easy icebreaker and hopefully gets people chatting about new books,” Cayer says. “What I like about it is it brings out a very diverse and different crowd of people.”

What kind of book should you bring? “What we hope is just that you’ll bring something you want to share with somebody else, something you love,” says Cayer. He says most people read a book once and then let it languish on the shelf for years, when it could be enjoyed by others. “I give away all my books,” he says.

Even if you prefer full bookshelves to empty ones, passing on a book that you enjoyed is a great way to connect with others. Not only that, but you might discover your next favourite book, courtesy of a fellow attendee.

Cayer says around 150 people generally turn up to the Social Book Exchange over the course of the night. This is the first time they’ve hosted one west of downtown, which he hopes will attract new attendees as well as regulars. He adds that later in the evening they sometimes put some tunes on and have a little dance party. Wherever the night ends up, the point is to just have fun talking about books and life and the world with a bunch of new friends.

The Social Book Exchange is a free event. It takes place October 18, 8pm, Cafe My House, 1015 Wellington St. W., in collaboration with Antique Skate, Tall Trees, Herd Magazine and Beau’s.