I went to a do at Soho House this week (and lost any cool factor I might have tried to fake by failing to find the entrance). No, it wasn’t the launch of a new vodka, or a pre-Fashion Week party. It was a book swap.
Admittedly it didn’t have much in common with the book swaps of my experience, in village halls or at school fetes. These events are the brainchild of a new literary project/journal, Tale of Three Cities, and, as befitting a name stocked in the très cool Colette store in Paris, the evening looked at first like a study in ‘geek chic’. There was a cocktail called Huckleberry Gin and great music and plenty of thick-framed vintage specs and ironic knits on show. But, all that besides, it was really just a gathering of people who love books, who wanted to spend the night talking about them, sharing them, and ultimately, to leave with an exciting new read.
The premise of the evening was a fantastic ice-breaker. I went with a friend, but once we were inside we didn’t see each other until it was time to try and catch the last tube home. We were too busy chatting with complete strangers about books.
The swap itself must be handled delicately. I brought When God Was a Rabbit with me, in case there were any uninitiated in its wonders. I could tell that the first person I talked to was pretty keen on my book – but first I needed to find a way of reading the back of hers without giving her false hope.
You also have to avoid the “oversell”, so I placed mine on the bar and watched from a safe distance, leaving it there for punters to admire undisturbed before sidling over when they picked it up and giving my recommendation. Creepy, but it worked – I didn’t manage to hang onto it for very long.
I walked away with a wonderfully antique edition of Don’t Look Now and other stories by Daphne du Maurier, though I made the mistake of starting the titular story before I went to bed (for anyone who hasn’t read it, it’s every bit as creepy as Nicolas Roeg’s film adaptation).
I can’t imagine a better activity for a Monday night – any night, in fact. I suspect that by the end of 2012 my bookshelves will be completely refurnished – an exciting, if somewhat nerve-wracking prospect.
Posted by Lucy Foley, Editorial