Oct 1, 2012

Celebrating All Hallow's Read, Book Blogger Style

As you might know, All Hallow's Read is a recent tradition started by Neil Gaiman that consists of giving people scary books for Halloween. The tradition is not meant to replace trick or treating, but to exist alongside it: in addition to all the fun Halloween stuff people already do, we're being encouraged to use the season as an excuse to share our favourite spooky books. You can find more information on the official website's FAQ.

Sounds fun, right? Some of you might remember that last year I wrote a post recommending books for All Hallow's Read; in that post, Steph left me the following comment:
What a fun idea! It would be so fun to do a blogger "Secret Santa" ("Secret Satan"? ;) ) based around this idea where people send other participants a spooky book!
By then it was too late to organise something for Halloween 2011, but I kept Steph's excellent idea in mind. The only thing holding me back was the fact that after organising the Book Bloggers Holiday Swap for its first three years, I was more than a little burned out. The last Holiday Swap I was a part of had close to 500 participants, and while big scale events can be a lot of fun, they're also potentially stressful and incredibly time-consuming. But at the same time, I have to admit I've really missed organising fun community events that bring book bloggers together and celebrate our mutual love of reading. After thinking about it for a while, my partner in crime Amy and I came up with a solution that will hopefully make the All Hallow's Read Swap simultaneously manageable and small-scale and as inclusive as possible. Instead of having one big-scale swap, we're having several small-scale swap circles of up to twenty participants each.

Here's how it works:

  • Sign up using this Google form or the one over at Amy's blog. [ETA: Sign ups are now closed. Thanks to everyone who joined!]

  • Signs up will be open until Friday or until the circles reach twenty participants, at which point they'll be closed.

  • If you miss signing up at my blog or Amy's, never fear: we're encouraging anyone interested to start swap circles of their own, so if the idea takes off there will be plenty of chances.

  • At some point next weekend, you'll get an e-mail from either Amy or me (depending on where you sign up) with the name and address of the person you're sending a spooky book to.

  • To make it easier for people to get their books in time for Halloween, we'll try to match them within the same continent whenever possible. It would also be helpful if everyone could send their book as soon as they can. If you're willing to send internationally, you could always send directly from bookshops like Better World Book or The Book Depository, which have free shipping worldwide. This option is a little less personal, but we understand that international shipping can be quite pricey, and your recipient will really appreciate the book and the nice gesture anyway.

  • Want to start a swap circle of your own? Great! You can do this even if you have already signed up for mine or Amy's: as a circle host, you can be a participants in your own circle, but in that case the identity of the person sending you a book won't be a surprise.

  • If you want to host your own circle, get in touch with one of us and we'll send you a duplicate of the sign up form. It's important not to link directly to either my form or the one at Amy's blog, though, because then participants would be joining our circles instead of yours.


I want to participate, but I don't have a lot of money. Do the books have to be new?
Nope, gently used books are totally fine! But to make sure you're partnered with someone who's comfortable receiving one, we're asking in the sign up form.

Is the person I'm sending a book to the same person who's sending a book to me?
No - it's more fun if everyone has the chance to connect with two different people. Just like in a Secret Santa swap, you won't know the identity of the person sending you a book until you receive it.

Who can participate?
Our All Hallow's Read swap circles are open to book bloggers (we're defining the term loosely, of course - if you blog about other things too but are a part of the community, you're more than welcome to participate). If you're not a blogger, please feel free to start a swap circle of your own in whatever online communities or real life social circles you belong to. Consider this a CC-licensed event: the goal here is to have fun and to spread All Hallow's Reads far and wide, so we're encouraging anyone to take the idea and make it their own.

We do have one request, though: that authors don't sign up for our circles with the intent of sending a blogger a promotional copy of their own book in the hopes that they'll review it. I know this should go without saying, and I also know that the thought wouldn't even cross the minds of 95% of authors, but unfortunately the years I spent running the Holiday Swap have shown me that someone will always be the exception.

Can I send my partner extra goodies, like Halloween treats? Sure, why not? If you visit the All Hallow's Read site, you'll find printable cards, gift tags, stickers and bookmarks that you can add to your book.

How will I know what kind of scary book my partner likes? We're collecting information in the sign up form that should make your task easier. Their blog should also give you a good idea of their taste.

I'm drawing a blank here - can you recommend some scary books?
The All Hallow's Read site has a very handy recommendations section. You can also try my list from last year

Can haz buttons?
Yep :D Feel free to make your own too.

(These were made using CC-licensed artwork from the Open Clip Art Library.)

If you have any other questions, just leave them in the comments. I hope you'll find this idea as exciting as Amy and I do. Happy spooky reading!


  1. This is a great idea, and I can imagine that it will be a lot of fun!

  2. A most excellent idea!

  3. I love this idea! I'm all about spreading the book love and this is such a fun way to do it. Thank you for hosting this!

  4. Many thanks to everyone who's joined so far! Amy and I still have spots available, so you can definitely still join until Friday. Turns out that there isn't anywhere near enough interest in this idea to justify more swap circles, so we won't be super rigid about the 20 spots thing - if there are a couple of extra people by Friday, we'll be able to squeeze them in. But we DO have to be strict about the time limit, or else people won't get their scary books before Halloween. So if you're on the fence, do make sure you get your info to us before the weekend.

  5. Such a great idea! I'm most definitely in. I'm hoping to send some books to my nieces and nephews and maybe pick up some new ones for my own kids. Love All Hallow's Read!

  6. I"m so sorry I missed joining in this, Ana! I would have loved to, but I just saw this post now. Next year, then.....I hope you are all having fun with it!! It's a lovely idea.

  7. I'm so excited about this!
    I sent mine already- is there a way our "trick or treater" can let us know if they received it or not? :)

  8. Susan, there's always next year! I'm really sorry that you missed it this time around :(

    Mariana, I was thinking that closer to the end of the month Amy or I could create a post where people could tells us about their All Hallow's Read Swap experience/maybe link to a post about it on their blog. How does that sound?

  9. Ooh I missed this swap...

    But I do hope that the Book Blogger Holiday Swap will be back! :0


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.