To be honest, this is the kind of idea that isn't necessarily going to save the wetlands, cut greenhouse gas emissions or safeguard energy supplies for the next generation. It might be a lot of fun, though, and a way to save a little cash while putting unused resources to good use.

If you're like us, you're probably a book and magazine geek. There's something incredibly relaxing about browsing the stacks at the local bookstore. Of course, if you spend a couple hours flipping through pages, it's tough not to take something home. Toss in an overpriced coffee or two, and it all adds up.

Be the bookstore

So prepare to brew some excellent coffee, and invite some friends over. Everyone brings a box of books and magazines that would otherwise be gathering dust. But share the good stuff: recent bestsellers and current magazines in good condition. Rummage sale books get saved for a rummage sale.

Make sure there are enough comfortable places for people to sit, read and chat. Set aside about two hours for your bookstore event. Once everyone has arrived, spread out the books. Serve refreshments and enjoy and hour or so of browsing. Then everyone takes turns picking a few things to take home.

But leave about half the books on the table. These get donated. Domestic shelters, hospital waiting rooms and nursing homes are all good candidates. You could even take them to your local used book store — they're struggling to get through the crunch, too.

A little ambiance

It's not an accident that commercial bookstores go out of their way to create a living room vibe, so you're already ahead of the game. But you can take things further. The folks at CoffeeFair have compiled a free e-book of copycat Starbucks-style coffee recipes that can be brewed a lot cheaper than what the barista will sell you, and biscotti is easy to prepare at home. If you've got kids on hand, get them involved making bookmarks for takeaways. Use your imagination, and have a good time.

Too busy to host a bookstore party? BookMooch is a new book-swapping service that connects used books with eager readers. If you know of others, please share them in the comments section.

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009

Bookstore getting expensive? Start your own
With budgets getting tighter, even that weekend trip to the bookstore is getting hard to justify. But here's how to share books -- and a little fun -- with your