How to Host a Latino-Themed Book Swap Party

By Carmen Amato

Want an opportunity to get together with friends and feel virtuous at the same time?

Host a book party! Not only will you have fun but you’ll get a new book (for free!) and learn what your friends love to read, too.

Here is how to do it in 5 easy steps:

1. Pick a theme

While Latino Lit is a great first choice, here are some other ideas that might appeal to your friends:

• Cookbooks
• Mexico
• Latino history

Whatever you choose, make the theme broad enough so that there are many books in that category. You can also include DVDs and CDs that are book-related if you want. Just let guests know in the invitation.

2. Invitations

Send out invites explaining the book swap party theme and how it works. Guests should be told to bring three things:

• A wrapped book (doesn’t have to be new) that corresponds to the theme
• The first sentence of the book written on a 3×5 card or slip of paper. The title of the book should be written on the back.
• If the party is a pot-luck, tell them to bring a dish to share.

3. The set-up

Besides setting up for guests with food, drinks, plates, napkins, etc, you need to have a bowl of numbered cards (up to the number of guests).

Have a small prize to give away at the end of the party, such as set of bookmarks. To make bookmarks without spending a dime, check out all these free downloads from!

When guests arrive, put all their books in one central place. Collect the cards with the first sentence for the quiz at the end.

4. The swap

Once the food and margaritas are gone, let everyone pick a number out of the bowl. Number 1 gets to pick any wrapped book and unwrap it. Number 2 can either take Number 1’s unwrapped book or pick a different item from the pile. And so on. Anyone whose unwrapped book is taken gets to pick again from the wrapped pile. The picking and trading keeps going until the final number is drawn and everyone has a book. Beware, this can get quite hilarious.

5. The quiz

Without anyone looking inside their book, read the first sentences out loud from the cards the guests brought. Let folks try to guess which book each sentence comes from (whoever brought the book is not allowed to tell!). Write the name of the person who guesses the correct title on the sentence card. After all the sentences have been guessed the person who has the most number of correct guesses gets the prize.

That’s it! Everybody gets a new book and learns a little about many others.
To get you thinking about a book swap party, who can name the book this quote is from? Let us know in the comments!

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”


Carmen Amato is the author of THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and CLIFF DIVER, the first book in her Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco which was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “consistently exciting.” The next book in that series, HAT DANCE, will be released later this summer.

In HAT DANCE, Acapulco detective Emilia Cruz will risk a dance with the devil in a desperate attempt to stop an arsonist and find a missing girl. But when the music stops, the consequences will be deadly.

Check out all Carmen’s books at and connect with her on Twitter @CarmenConnects or Her Pinterest boards illustrate her books and can be found at

Leave a Reply