Editor’s Note: Article originally published 6/2018. This awesome group of booklovers recently wrapped up another successful summer book exchange for 2019, bringing them together for their seventh Gift Exchange in the past two years using Elfster. They keep going and growing!
Read any good books lately?
As I stare at the stack of unread books that has accumulated on my bedside table, I’m overwhelmed by my options. Like many folks, my favorite indulgence is curling up with a really good book to soothe my mind, but let’s face it, with our busy lifestyles these days, we don’t have much time to spare. So when it comes to how to spend my “me” time, I need a little help converting that “to-read” pile into my “best book I’ve ever read” stack.
So imagine my excitement when I realized the elves were helping to connect an entire community of book lovers, lead by a popular celebrity who reads bunches of books every month and shares her recommendations of her favorite titles for her followers to check out.
Best book advice from an avid reader
After a too-brief (which may have been a good thing…) four-episode run as a contestant on ABC’s hit dating show The Bachelor (Season 15 in 2011), Ashley Spivey made a great first impression in the public spotlight. And though she did not receive the final rose from bachelor Brad Womack that season, Ashley proved she had much more to offer the world and decided to use her positive influence with her audience to focus on brains over drama and share her lifelong love of reading.
“I tried out for the show as a joke and I ended up getting on pretty easily!” she says. “It was actually a wonderful experience where I made so many friends and amazing memories. I was on the show around the time twitter and instagram became big so I was one of the first people in the Bachelor community to use social media to my advantage. I personally thought I came off kinda boring and meek on the show, so I used social media and a blog to let people get to know me better.”
As an avid reader and super reliable book reviewer, Ashley has become just the person her thousands of social media fans of #spiveysbookclub turn to when it comes to picking their next read. And just like an “in real life” book club, her 35,000+ Instagram followers and 7,000+ Facebook book buddies not only rely on Ashley’s recommendations, including her picks for the group’s book of the month, but help each other as well. Her online book club is strictly that — no drama allowed, just a place for the vibrant community of book lovers to share their list of “must-haves” and “don’t bothers.”
“I created #spiveysbookclub after doing multiple book posts on instagram and people always wanted a place where we could discuss the books more in depth,” Ashley explains. “We try to read two books together a month and discuss at the end of the month, but it’s also a place where you can find out what to read next, get feedback on books, and see if you should continue reading a book!”
And sometimes it takes a little help from friends to manage such a large online community! That’s where fellow book club members Monika Cieslik and Linda Kaufman stepped in to help Ashley keep up with her constantly growing group.
“When Ashley created the group I asked her if she needed any help running it by approving members and answering basic questions from the members,” Monika explains. “Linda Kaufman, another member, [and I] became moderators of the [Facebook] group. The group is strictly a book club! It is an open forum where people ask for recommendations and talk about what we love and what we don’t love! Like any book club we choose 1-2 books a month for whoever wants to participate and then have a thread. The group is at about [7,100] members!”
Read. Review. Repeat.
So what’s better than sharing the knowledge of a great book with one another? Why, sharing their favorite books with one another with a secret santa gift exchange for the Secret Spivsters, of course!
Ashley and Monika first used Elfster with their own New York City book club for a book exchange, then realized it would work for her online community, too!
“I heard about Elfster through another Facebook group, but used it for the first time to exchange gifts with close friends,” says Monika. “Someone else set that one up. A member of the group mentioned doing a book exchange and I suggested we use Elfster to streamline it. So that’s what we did!”
And the expectations for participants in the quarterly Secret Spivster book exchanges are pretty simple according to Monika, “We just expect that if a member joins they must send a book to the person that they got paired with.” Participants use their Elfster wish list to share the links to their Goodreads or Amazon wish lists to avoid receiving a book they may already own.
“Everyone seems to be enjoying it and who doesn’t like a fresh new book!” Monika says. “It’s like everyone getting a present and its not for a holiday or a birthday. I think it makes people feel good. I know that I do!”
“Surprisingly, it went great with our first round even though many people never even heard of Elfster,” she adds. “We didn’t have any problems with someone not sending their book. We made sure to stay on top of those who weren’t marking their books as sent or received so that no one would fall through the cracks. We are in the middle of our second round now so we will see how that goes. We do warn members that if they decide to participate and don’t send a book then they would be booted from the Facebook group.”
And a big thanks to Ashley for allowing Elfster to help bring her community together on a more personal level to spread generosity, which is what it’s all about! The elves are looking forward to helping the Secret Spivsters connect again soon for their next exchange.
Set up a Secret Santa gift exchange today to connect your online community! Looking for some great gift ideas? Browse Elfster’s gift guides for inspiration! Share your favorite ideas with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, and on Instagram @Elfster.