A book exchange isn't a new idea but a couple of British expats are taking things to a new level with monthly book swaps at Le Carmen, a cocktail bar in Paris which was once a popular haunt of Georges Bizet and is named after his most famous opera.
One of the co-founders is Rosa Rankin-Gee. Just 24 years old and a couple years out of university, where she studied modern languages, Rosa has already been named one of the 75 Brilliant Young Brits of 2010 by Esquire magzine and won the 2011 Paris Literary Prize for her novella The Last Kings of Sark. The other is photographer and writer Jethro Turner. Jethro and Rosa are also part of a small team who have recently launched A Tale of Three Cities, which claims to be "the first printed arts journal to join up the points of Europe's golden triangle: London, Paris and Berlin." The first issue was published in a hand-numbered, limited edition run in October 2011. You won't find it online as it is firmly and consciously a print only magazine.
Anyhow, back to the Book Club that has been drawing hipsters, or as Rosa and Jethro might call them litsters, to Le Carmen on the last Wednesday of every month. No tidy circle of discussion here, in fact no rules at all except no book - no entry! For a description of a typical evening let me hand you over to Eve Zuckerman reporting for Bonjour Paris:
From Exit Ghost by Philip Roth to The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, the palette of reading is limited only by imagination. Every language is welcome. According to Rosa and Jethro, the crowd splits about 50-50 between English and French speakers. "We don't want it to be an expat thing," Rosa explains. "We want it to be really Parisian in a true sense."
And don't worry about the dress code: there were shorts and flip-flops and no one was kicked out for it. Nonetheless, the majority of those in-the-know (as opposed to ingénue tourists) were dressed for a Parisian night out, from a Claudie Pierlot dress to see-through tops spiced with the occasional lumberjack-style checkered shirt. ... Saskya, a friend of Jethro's, has attended all five since the beginning. "Every time, there are more and more people and it's never the same crowd," says Saskya. "There's a solid core but every time, I meet someone new."
The idea of talking about books is very interesting," says Rosa, "It's better than talking about work, problems or politics."
Does this sound like an event that could be adapted to work in your community? If there isn't one already, perhaps you should be the one to start it!