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Book Club, the highly successful social event that has been drawing erudite hipsters to its monthly events in Paris, just celebrated its first birthday.

Held at cocktail bar Le Carmen, which was once the home of composer Bizet and is named after his famous opera, the concept of Book Club is simple: bring a favourite book to swap. There is only one rule -- no book, no entry. It doesn’t matter what language the book is in; everyone is welcome to participate.

The event’s founders, English expats Rosa Rankin-Gee and Jethro Turner, came up with the idea in 2011 by asking themselves what they wanted from a night out. Rankin-Gee explained that their aim was simply to meet interesting people, “not in a naff speed-dating way, but to have social norms diluted, to feel free and connected”.

And what better way to unite interesting people that than through books? The theme is particularly fitting for Paris, a city famous for the tomes written in and on its hallowed literary turf and for playing host to the literary salons of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

The books serve as ice-breakers: people can focus on their book rather than themselves, and each person approaching another has a perfect opening line.

“Someone once said that the book was a ploy to boost confidence and human interaction -- like asking someone for a light for your cigarette,” Rankin-Gee said. But “books don't give you cancer,” she pointed out dryly. “How wonderful if a form we are constantly told is in jeopardy is at the heart of conversation, meeting, drinking, dancing.”

Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.

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