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The Wide World of BookCrossing

Experiencing the diversity of local BookCrossing meetings
by ResQgeek
September 23, 2008
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending three different BookCrossing meetings, in three different cities, all within a five-day period. One of the great things about being a part of BookCrossing is being able to meet with other members when travelling. It's a bit like having an instant group of friends whereever you go. While we all share a passion for books, BookCrossers are an incredibly diverse group of people, with no limit to the interesting stories they can tell. I tell people that meeting a new group of BookCrossers is like meeting old friends for the very first time.

But meeting with three groups in five days has left another impression. Each local BookCrossing group has its own unique characteristics, almost a collective personality. This probably shouldn't be so surprising, since most local groups meet in something of a vacuum, mostly isolated from other local groups, so that they evolve their own style and habits. This local variability is part of the fun of attending BookCrossing meetings in other areas.

Some groups regularly meet in the same place on a pre-defined schedule. For example, the San Francisco BookCrossers meet in the bar at the Hotel Rex on the third Tuesday of every month. Other groups, such as BC in DC (the BookCrossers in the Washington, DC metro area), prefer to mix up their venues and meeting times, moving from location to location around the region and choosing different days and times to meet. Some groups are very small, such as the group in Carrol County, Maryland, while other groups have a dozen or more people who attend meetings regularly.

But even the meetings themselves seem to have different characteristics. Sharing books is a core part of what it means to be a BookCrosser, and so books seem to always be present at BookCrossing gatherings. What differs is how the books are shared. The BC in DC group simply piles them on the table(s) and people browse through the selections at their leisure. When I met with the Tri-Valley BookCrossers (in the suburbs on the east side of San Francisco Bay), I discovered that they like to present the books they are sharing, providing a brief review or summary of the books. The San Francisco group does the same.

And of course BookCrossing meetings include discussions. But even here, the nature of the discussions seems to vary from group to group. The members of BC in DC seem to talk about everything but books, and especially plan activities around local events to promote BookCrossing and give away books. Other groups, such as the San Francisco BookCrossers, keep their discussions more narrowly focused on books, whether it is telling about the great books someone has recently read, discussing favorite authors, or talking about what's next in the "to be read" pile.

No matter how a local group organizes their meetings, they all are fun and provide opportunities to share our common passion for books. Part of the fun of being a visitor is experiencing the differences in the local groups. Not only do you get to meet interesting new people, but you learn new ways to share your love of books and BookCrossing. I look forward to future opportunities to meet with local BookCrossing groups in other areas when I travel.

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