We know we keep banging on about the Firestation Book Swap in Windsor but there is a reason for that: it is fricking awesome. Forget the stereotype of fusty author readings and pinched-nose host asking impenetrable questions about literary form or something else you didn't understand at A Level, followed by a glass of wine sipped awkwardly as the guy sat behind you tries to ask what you thought of the recent edition of Granta*. The Book Swap is lively, friendly and in London for two Thursdays in early February.
Why is it fricking awesome? Firstly, the hosts aren't afraid to take the chat off on tangents and will certainly never come out with a question about the nature of iambic pentameter. And if you really want to derail things, write something truly bizarre for the Question Jar of random, anonymous, audience-submitted questions (rule one: don't ask anything about books or writing).
Then there's the swapping. At various points during the evening the hosts initiate some book swapping; if you don't feel like pitching your book to a room full of strangers, they will do it for you. When things really get going there can be three- or even four-way swaps going down. (We know, those crazy lit kids.)
But the highlight for most regular book swappers is the cake. Bring homemade cake and get in for free. Or don't bring cake and enjoy the delicious, cakey fruits of others' labours. It's pretty much win-win.
Regular host Marie Phillips is joined by Robert Hudson to keep an eye on proceedings at the London Review Bookshop on the 3rd. The authors are William Fiennes and Londonist favourite Nikesh Shukla. Don't leave it too late to book your ticket - the August Book Swap here sold out.
Scott Pack reclaims his place alongside Marie at the London School of Economics on 10th February. Guest authors are Sarah Salway and Matt Beaumont. In an added twist, if you don't want to swap your book you can donate it to READ International who will either send it to Tanzania or Uganda, or sell it to raise funds.
* Disclaimer: not all author readings are like this. But still too many of them are.
The London Review Bookshop Book Swap is on 3rd February, 7pm. Tickets cost £6 or free with homemade cake. The LSE Book Swap takes place in the cafe on the fourth floor of the Old Building on 10th February, 6pm. The event is free and admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis. Photo by Kortni Rudge.