For connoisseurs of the written word, one can never have enough books — no matter how many are still waiting to be read at home.
That's a sentiment well understood by Cindy Whittemore, owner of , who has hosted an old-fashioned book swap at her store every few months since the shop opened in downtown Half Moon Bay five years ago.
On Nov. 4, Ink Spell hosted its last swap of 2011.
"People always go home learning about a new author or a new book they've never heard about before," Whittemore said, counting herself among that group.
"It's like speed dating for books," she added.
True to form, each of the two dozen participants brought a well-loved book to show off, and talked their choice up among three small groups throughout the evening.
Wine and cheese, melon and prosciutto and small sandwiches made the atmosphere more social than academic.
Whittemore's friend Bree Tiura brought the audio version of "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" to share.
Tiura, a self-described fan of audiobooks, said she's been coming to the swaps at Ink Spell since they began.
"I love hearing about all different kinds of books at these events," she said. "At work, when they need someone to drive over the hill, I'll volunteer so I can listen to my books on the way."
By mixing up the readers three times, each participant was exposed to a majority of the titles available to take home.
At the end of the evening, the books were chosen one by one in a white elephant-style swap. Books were able to be "stolen" if a title of choice had already been taken.
Montara resident and avid runner brought the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.
McDougall's book — about the Tarahumara in Mexico, an indigenous group that has mastered the art of long distance running — was one of the first taken off the table of available books shortly after the swap began.
Also popular among participants was the historical fiction novel "Cleopatra's Daughter" by Michelle Moran. Half Moon Bay resident Rob Williams (who brought "Stiff" by Mary Roach to swap) scooped it up when it was his turn to pick a book.
Though he said he was happy to have selected the book, he soon realized that it wasn't the one he meant to take away.
When it was her turn, Williams's wife Allene Zanger chose the book he originally wanted.
Later in the round, "Cleopatra's Daughter" got taken away from Williams, but he didn't mind.
"It's fun to support the bookstore by coming to these swaps," Williams said, who was attending his third such event that evening.
"Cindy does a lot for the community," he said, referring to the given away by Whittemore each year to kindergarten students along the coast from Montara to Pescadero. "We want to support that in any way we can."
Ink Spell's next book swap is in Jan. 2012. To purchase a ticket to the event or for more information, contact the store at 650-726-6571.