Any writer worth her ink knows that it is important to attend local readings and support local authors, but man, the reading series social scene can be cruel. Writers flock to their writer friends. They stand in circles around tall bookshelves and talk about that party they went to last Tuesday without you or they go up to the bar and each order a rusty-nail, easy just as the bartender is handing you your appletini on ice.  Most writers–or at least Timothy Moore and I–really want to connect with other literary folk at these events, but that can be tough. 

That is precisely why Timothy and I started The Mingle, a reading series that we have co-curated for almost a year now at Ravenswood Used Books. In many ways, it’s like every other reading series you’ve ever been to. We have a line-up of 4 to 5 writers, we get up there and read their bios, and then the writers get up there and share their stuff, BUT IT’S BETTER.

photo credit Angela Narciso Torres

Timothy introducing a reader like any normal MC at any normal reading

At the Mingle, we’ve tried to eliminate the parts of readings that we don’t like. Readers have the stage for 12 minutes tops–no one is charismatic enough to occupy your Thursday night for longer than that. We also ask all guests to wear name tags, but not with their names. Instead we have people write a little something about themselves: their favorite halloween costume, their ideal vacation spot, or a hobby from 6th grade, for instance. We try to use the name tags as a basis for conversation. Anyone can connect over their affection for pogs, for instance, it doesn’t matter if one attendee is a super well published literary ninja and the other is a starry eyed, pen and paper dreamer. The name tags are meant as an equalizer for all attendees and–if you want them to–the name tags really work.

Last Mingle, I had a chance to talk to a writer from Brooklyn who told me about a reoccurring night terror of an attacking “demon dog.” When is the last time you shared your night terror visions with a perfect stranger? Probably never, unless you were at the last Mingle.

Connecting with others at the Mingle is especially exciting because the readers we’ve been lucky enough to host are so sharp and shiny with their words. We’re hosting another one soon and you don’t want to miss out. Join us on November 19th at Ravenswood Used Books. We’ll be hearing from Eddy Ozoma, Jessica Anne, Toby Altman, and Mike Lopez. The fun starts at 6:30. Be there!