I Attended A Book Swap To Find Out If It Was A Dumping Ground

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I arrive at The 1925 Brewing Co. at 3.30pm.

The pub might have been hidden from sight on regular days, tucked in between the rows of family-owned shop houses – but not this time. When I arrive, it’s half an hour into the Books & Beer x Buy SingLit book swap event.

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A large, bright orange banner is displayed at the front of the pub, and I spy a short but continuous queue. These are my fellow book-lovers, who brought books for the swap.

The swap procedures work as such – participants bring their books and get them stamped before they enter to browse the selection. They are allowed to bring home any number of books, although the recommendation is to bring home as many books as they had brought for the swap.

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Readers who had brought local literature for swapping were entitled to either a $10 #BuySingLit voucher, or a complimentary Books & Beer Brew – specially crafted by the venue host, while stocks lasted. Alternatively, drinks are also available for $5.

First Impressions

At 3.30, there’s a roving, small crowd, which I estimate to be about 30 to 40 people.

Credits: BooksActually Facebook page

Glancing around, it takes me a short while before I spot the BooksActually booth in the corner – easily missed while jostling among fellow readers for one’s books of choice.

The crowd dynamics for this instalment are what one would expect to fit a stereotypical reader’s profile – a large majority of the crowd consisted of young adults. Yet, there’s also the odd book-loving retiree and some expatriate couples.

A Mobile Library?

By 3.50pm, the bar had become more packed than it was before. I was starting to feel a tad more claustrophobic.

Credits: BooksActually Facebook page

Possibly due to the layout of the place or its dim atmosphere, I feel an urge to sit down and read the books I had shortlisted to bring home. This reminds me of a mobile library of sorts – but I tell myself that this was not the intention of the event.

A Platform For Bookish Conversations

At 4pm, I stand in the corner of the bar, longing for a seat – but too reserved to share a seat with a stranger.

As I deliberate over Jane Green’s Saving Grace and Emma Healey’s Elizabeth Is Missing, I notice two book lovers sharing perspectives on Margaret Atwood‘s works – they had chanced upon The Handmaid’s Tale, and are passionately discussing which of her works they like best.

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I also overhear a young gentleman sharing book recommendations with his fellow book-lovers that I presume he’s newly-acquainted with – he has been engaging in similar conversation more than once with various different individuals.

Perhaps this is the value of a book swap of this nature – not so much the books swapped in and of themselves, but the platform it serves to encourage readers to engage in discussions for the love of all literary things.

It’s 4.45pm now, and I leave with a copy of Kim Hawtrey’s The True And Living God and Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage in return.

A Range of Books

I admit – I was initially cynical that the event might resemble some sort of dumping ground for unwanted second-hand books, in the guise of a “book swap” – the kind where books that are unheard of sit forlornly in the corner, and passers-by acknowledge the likelihood that the books would be picked up, was low.

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Thankfully, Books and Beer SG was not as I had envisioned! Apart from being heartened at the conversations taking place between eager book-lovers, there was a respectable variety of books available.

I might be imagining this, but I would like to think it shows the reading community’s due respect for book-related events.

Not only did I leave pleased with my swap find, I was also pleasantly surprised that there was no restriction on books with faith-related perspectives, like the ones I brought and received in return.

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More than the books I saw on display or the book I brought home – when I left the event, I was affirmed of the value it provided for the exchange of conversation on book recommendations between fellow book lovers.

I’m not sure if I were to take part in this again – having become an accustomed Kindle reader, circa several years ago – I would include a small note in the book(s) I bring for the swap.

After all, as a reader, I appreciate it when the books my friends gift me are accompanied by a note of why they thought the book was suited for me, or why I might benefit from it. I imagine it would be heartwarming if readers did the same – to, and for, each other!