For anyone not familiar with what you do, tell us a little about yourself and the Ninja Book Swap.
Bex: We are two girls in our mid (Hanna) to late (Bex) twenties from the UK who met through book blogging around three years ago. Just over a year ago we started the Ninja Book Swap. The basic idea is that people sign up and are partnered up with someone who they then make a parcel for (a book or two from their wishlist, a little gift and a card) and are made a parcel by a different person so that they never know who they’re receiving from until the parcel arrives. We currently run the swap three times a year, at Valentine’s, mid Summer and Halloween (we leave Christmas for the many Secret Santa’s already running!).
Hanna: We’ve run four Ninja Swaps already, with more and more people joining in each time. It’s a great atmosphere because everybody that joins in loves books and receiving mail. Next time, in October, we’re hoping to have more Ninjas than ever before!
The Ninja Book Swap is an interesting concept – How did the idea come about?
Bex: Basically, Hanna and I are pretty much book twins and so we were always sending each other books that we’d finished and loved or that we knew the other really wanted. After participating in a blogger Secret Santa a couple of years ago we got chatting about how awesome receiving bookish parcels was and how we didn’t want to wait until the next Christmas to do it again. We also have another blogger friend who occasionally sent us book from our wishlists without telling us, just because she’s lovely, and referred to it as ‘Ninja RAKing’ (Random acts of Kindness), and we thought the idea of getting a parcel where you had no idea what would be in it was really cool, and thus the concept of a Ninja Book Swap was born!
Hanna: We both had the idea, separately, at more or less the same time. When we realised, we thought it would be even more fun to run it together! It does make it easier to be honest – this way the Ninja Book Swap doesn’t suffer when one of us has ‘life stuff’ going on, like new babies or new jobs. We work well together and (*touches wood*) it’s run well every time.
What has been your favourite book swap that you have received and why?
Bex: Ooh that’s a difficult one to answer! Personally I think my favourite was a parcel I received from a lovely blogger Sheli (@SheliReads) during the Valentine’s swap earlier this year. It arrived during the middle of one of those horrendous storms we had back in February/March time and contained crème brulee teabags, which immediately set the kettle boiling! Also it had an awesome Alice in Wonderland card (I’m a huge fan), two books and a gorgeous Wuthering Heights notebook. Every parcel I’ve ever had in a swap has genuinely been fantastic, but that one takes the edge purely because of the conditions in which it was delivered and how necessary a gorgeous tasting cup of tea was at that moment.
Hanna: I think my favourite swap was the second Ninja Book Swap that we ran, which would be our first Halloween-themed swap. We added a Trick-or-Treat component where you also add to surprise your recipient with a book from a genre they don’t usually read, along with a book from their wish list and a little gift (as usual). I’d specified that I didn’t read as much literary fiction as I’d like, so Charlotte (from The Lit Addicted Brit) choose to send me The Song of Achilles, which I ended up falling in love with and is probably one of the best books I’ve read all year. In the same package, I also got another book and a tiiiiiiiiiny Jane Austen collection that you need a magnifying glass to read. It was a lovely package that makes me smile every time I see those books.
Can anyone sign up to join the Ninja Book Swap? And if so, how?
Bex: Anyone can sign up as long as you have had an online presence for at least three months, i.e a blog or a twitter/goodreads/tumblr account you update regularly. Visit our blog for all the details (www.theninjabookswap.blogspot.com), and then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re interested in participating in the next one and we’ll send you an email with all the details once sign up is open!
Hanna: We also ask that if you’re under 16, you get a parent or guardian to okay it. We’re happy to have anyone and we’re lucky enough to have a wide range of participants from different countries, genders and ages. It really makes for a diverse swap.
What are your top 3 favourite books and why?
Bex: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: the writing is stunning and the story is perfect. I really felt like I was there, I could almost smell the popcorn.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: I just fell in love with both Eleanor and Park and Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I’ve loved everything she’s written so far but this one the most because it’s so much deeper than it seems.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: the beautiful writing, but mostly because it’s so thought provoking and every time I read it I get something different from it.
Hanna: Oh, this is hard! I’m going to choose:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This is the first classic I ever read and it opened my eyes to literature I’d previously thought boring. I collect different editions and I now have 71 different copies!
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I have to agree with Bex on this one. I read it years ago and liked it, but when I reread it earlier this year it just blew me away. It’s odd how your perception of a book can change with time.
11/22/63 by Stephen King: It’s so hard to type that title correctly, being British! I can take or leave Stephen King, but this book is actually unbelievable. It’s historical fiction/sci-fi/romance, which is unusual for him, but the detail and imagery… wow.
If you could do a book swap with someone famous, who would it be and why?
Bex: Neil Gaiman because I think he’s amazing and he seems to have really cool taste in books, graphic novels, music and art so I think he’d put together a really great parcel!
Hanna: Caitlin Moran. She seems to always unearth the fun, quirky books that I love.
And lastly, what can we expect next from the Ninja Book Swap team?
Bex: We’re currently working on our new blog, and also on a few ways to make the swap even bigger and better. After that, who knows? We both love the swap and really enjoy organising it, so I’m sure there will be many more crazy ideas where it came from!
Hanna: Yes, we’re really looking forward to getting our blog up and running. We’re hoping to do a fun theme for the upcoming Halloween swap and we’re asking for your thoughts here (http://theninjabookswap.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/your-ideas-wanted.html). The best thing about the Ninja Book Swap is that we can be creative and flexible, we always want your ideas!
Thanks very much to Bex and Hanna from Ninja Book Swap – we look forward to getting involved in your next swap!
If you would like to take part in the next Ninja Book Swap – speak to Bex and Hanna on any of the below:
Twitter – @NinjaBookSwap
Email – email@example.com