Saturday, January 15, 2011

6 Books in a Backpack: Episodes 2, 3 & 4


Last month I wrote about my idea for 6 Books in a Backpack, a scheme I had that would give me reasons to ride, keep in touch with friends & get some ideas flowing in the form of book exchanges. I've now done a 4 of these exchanges and I have another one scheduled for next week in Portland.

The principle behind these exchanges is that from zero to 6 books can change hands, but you have to leave with the same number of books you came with. Barb Chamberlin describes this as The SISO Method for Life Management. In my first exchange with Joe, 6 books changed hands. In the second exchange with my friend Lexi, we traded 5 books. In my meeting with Barb, we swapped 3 books and when I met up with Ryan, 3 books changed hands.

In the past I've been vague about identifying a certain camping spot because I'd really be happier if a bunch of people didn't wind up camping there and similarly I've concluded that it's best not to detail every exchange in a "I got this book to A and got this book in exchange" fashion. A couple of the books I've gotten in trade I've already really enjoyed and I've thought "Oh, X will really like this, I'll put it in the pile of books I'm taking to my meeting with him." It would be a real shame to meet with X and have him say "Oh yeah, that was a great book, I bought it as soon as I read about it on your blog!"

I will, within these self-imposed concepts of vagueness, report on the great success of this project. While the first 3 meetings were with old friends, my latest was with a new friend, Ryan who was up visiting from Portland and got in touch because of my initial post on this subject. I turns out that Ryan and I have friends in common & we traded a couple of emails to assess our tastes in books.

In every exchange I've gotten books that were new to me, some by authors I've never read. The self-imposed deadlines of these meetings have me reading more, scanning my shelves and talking more books with more people. All good things. And I've ridden at least one hundred miles going to and from these meetings and had terrific, wide ranging conversations.

The exchanges themselves remind me of playing cards. We each pull out our six books, describe them and then we may or may not swap. Sometimes there's a "Oh yeah, that's good, I read it in college" or "Nah, I've got too many historical novels on my plate already" and that's fine. Sometimes we discuss books we didn't bring, other books by the authors we've brought to the table, or books that we find similar in theme or tone to the books at hand.

I'm reading more, riding more & having a lot of wide ranging conversations because of the 6 Books in a Backpack project, so I count it as a rousing success. If you're at all bookish, you might want to give it a try.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
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