Your future, wilt disease

Spam is getting weirder. I assume the strange (and apparently randomly generated) subject lines are an attempt to bypass spam filters, but would anyone really want to open an email sent to them with the subject line “Your future, wilt disease”???

Anyway, as planned, we (lytteltonwitch, awhina and I) spent the weekend in Dunedin for the 24-hour Regent Booksale (well, some of us were going down for the booksale – awhina had an ulterior motive in going to Dunedin: she’d arranged to meet a man she’d been chatting to on-line. You can imagine the teasing she was getting in the car on the way down once lytteltonwitch and I found out about it!). Like last year, we left Christchurch straight after work on Friday, but this year we were a bit better organised (well, apart from leaving Bally (who now has his own diary) in the back of lytteltonwitch’s car when we transferred her bags over to awhina’s), so we actually managed to get out of Christchurch without hitting too much traffic, and made quick time down to Dunedin, arriving at about 10.30. We stopped into the backpackers to drop off our bags before hitting the booksale, and to our amazement discovered Murder at the Motel by Victor Gunn lying on a table in the lounge area. Finding a book on a table might not seem that amazing, but it was the same copy that lytteltonwitch had released in Timaru the weekend before – somehow it had made its way down to Dunedin ahead of us! Further proof that Bookcrossing books do travel even if they don’t always get journalled.

Ok, I was just about to describe the Regent booksale, but had a feeling I did so last year, so thought instead I’d look back at last year’s entry and link to it (how’s that for being self-referential?). Looking back, it’s funny to see things like the fact it was our first time visiting otakuu, and now her house is a regular stop-off point on the way South, and we don’t even get lost getting there any more :-). But it’s disturbing to see that some of the books I picked up at last year’s meetup I still haven’t read! I’ve really got to learn to acquire books at a slower rate than I can read them!

Anyway, back to this year’s trip. Friday night at the booksale was just as crowded as last year, and just as fun. Even more fun, in fact, because this year we were on a mission. Boreal had arranged a scavenger hunt, giving each of us a list of books we had to try and find at the booksale:

  1. A Bookcrossing registered book
  2. A book published before 1940
  3. A novel with a vegetable name in the title
  4. A book in Maori
  5. A book with a picture of a frog on the cover
  6. A book about clocks
  7. A book with “Elvis” in the title of a picture of Elvis on the cover
  8. A book with an author beginning with X
  9. A book by Agatha Christie
  10. A NZ children’s book that has won or been shortlisted for the NZ children’s book awards
  11. A book with the word “purple” in the title
  12. A book with the name of a bird in the title
  13. A book that includes your first name in the title
  14. A biography or autobiography of a singer, actor, or someone in show business
  15. A book of zodiac signs
  16. A book with an alliterative title (at least 3 or 4 word title)
  17. A fiction book with a country name in the title
  18. A book with a body part in the title
  19. A movie tie-in novel
  20. A book about Africa

There were also bonus points to be awarded for the book with the most unusual title, the romance with the funniest cover picture, and the book most suitable for a themed release in a phone box.

It was great fun searching for suitable books, especially trying to come up with creative ways of meeting the more difficult challenges (like when we were struggling to find anything with “purple” in the title (yes, my immediate thought was The Colour Purple too, but it was nowhere to be seen) – we could find every colour but purple, so as a back-up plan I picked up a book with “blue” in the title, and another with “red”, and was going to claim the two combined made purple 🙂 (I did find a purple-titled book later, so lyttletonwitch decided to use my plan instead, but although everyone was suitably amused, she wasn’t awarded the point for it)). But eventually tiredness and the heat in the theatre got too much for us, so we headed back to the backpackers for some sleep (well, that was the plan at least, but going from the hot air of the hall out into the freezing cold of Dundedin at midnight, struggling up the incredibly steep View Street with our heavy purchases (I’d bought about 50 books already – some for reading, some for the scavenger hunt, but most to be bookcrossed – my box of releasable books was looking pretty empty when I left Christchurch, so restocking it was a major aim of the weekend), then from the cold into the log-fire-heated backpackers, was all too much for my poor lungs. I ended up having an asthma attack which kept us all awake for an hour or two until my breathing sounded less like a broken steam-engine.)

The next morning we woke up bright and early (well, maybe not all that bright, but it was pretty early), and after a quick breakfast and a stop in the Octagon for lytteltonwitch to decorate a tree with books (I’ll add some photos later), it was back to the booksale, where once again we shopped until we dropped (or at least, until our arms were almost dropping off with the weight of the books!). We finally decided we’d had our fill of the sale, even though it still had a couple of hours to go, and decided to go back to the backpackers and relax for a while before lunch. No sooner had we put down the books than I got a phonecall from TopKat, who was at the sale and looking for us (I’d spoken to her a few days before, and she wasn’t sure whether they’d be coming down for the sale or not, so I’d assumed she wouldn’t be, but of course Stepfather couldn’t pass up a booksale (or more specifically, the record section of the booksale!)). So we went back again, this time promising ourselves we wouldn’t buy any more books (yeah, right – within a few minutes of being back in the sale, lytteltonwitch and I were both laden down with books again. Can you say “obsessed”? I did (almost) manage to stay within my budget though – I’d told myself I could spend around $50-60, and my final total was $62.50 – but at 50c per book, that’s a *lot* of books!). But eventually I managed to find Mum, and we escaped back out into the Octagon for a coffee to remove ourselves from temptation.

Mum wanted to do some proper shopping (what, the booksale isn’t proper shopping???) while she was in Dunedin, so she decided not to join us for lunch, and lytteltonwitch and I left her and headed out to North Dunedin to meet the other bookcrossers and show off our scavenger hunt finds. Awhina was there, with her mystery man in tow (he seemed quite nice, and coped admirably well with being thrown into the middle of a bookcrossing meetup!), plus the usual Dunedin gang (boreal, rarsberry, VivaRichie, octopusgrrl, kiwijan, and a couple of others I can’t remember the names of), so it was quite a big meetup. We went round the table comparing scavenger hunt successes, and lytteltonwitch and I came joint equal, each finding 17 out of 20 books (I missed numbers 1, 8, and 10 (I tried to claim that finding some of Skyring‘s releases from the convention still in the bookshelf at the backpackers should count for #1, but the rules said they had to be actually purchased at the booksale, so the one I’d brought along, Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling, was disqualified), and lytteltonwitch missed numbers 1, 8, and 11). Picking the winners of the bonus point categories produced much hilarity, but I won most unusual title (for A Quiche Before Dying), lytteltonwitch won funniest cover for a romance featuring a shirtless man on the cover holding two babies, because he’d been drawn with such unfeasibly large pectoral muscles that he looked like he was breastfeeding them, and I think kiwijan won the best themed release (I can’t remember the exact title, but it was something like Talking Behind Glass). Our prizes were kit-kats and sheets of Dunedin-themed release labels created by boreal. We all declared the scavenger hunt a great success, and demanded that boreal come up with another list for next year.

Of course, as well as the scavenger hunt books, there were the usual piles of bookcrossing books covering the table. I contributed An April Shroud by Reginald Hill, Along Came a Spider by James Patterson, One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train Its Human by Celia Haddon, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and picked up What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage, Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye, and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer. After the meetup, there were a few books left lying on the table, so the last of us to leave scooped them up to release elsewhere (I took USA: The Rough Guide, which I left in the book exchange shelf at the backpackers, where I thought it was most likely to find a new reader, and A Certain Justice by John Lescroart, which I was intending to release on the trip home, but never got round to it, so I’ll probably take it to the next meetup or something).

Awhina and friend were intending to spend the afternoon in a romantic wander around the Botanic Gardens, so lytteltonwitch and I borrowed her car and went for an adventure. We actually only went out along the Peninsula to have a look around Glenfalloch and Larnach’s Castle, but we kept sending her text messages suggesting that we were going much further afield (like “Do you know if there’s any petrol stations between Milton and Balclutha?”). Given our record of taking the longest possible route to get from point A to point B on previous trips, she was already worried about where we might be taking her car, so we couldn’t resist the temptation to wind her up a bit more. And of course, when we met her and her friend later for dinner, we refused to tell her where we had been, saying that we’d email her the photos later (of course, being us, we’re planning on photoshopping her car into a series of ever more distant scenes…). I didn’t release any books while we were “down the bay” (as my grandparents used to call the Peninsula), because I had managed to leave my release supplies (labels, bookmarks, post-it notes, plastic bags, etc) behind in the backpackers and we couldn’t be bothered going back for them, but I did release a book in the Cobb & Co we met in for dinner: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Cobb & Co is popular with family groups, so I’m hoping a child will have picked it up).

Back at the backpackers that evening, I searched the bookshelves for bookcrossing books, and found quite a few that had been left there during the covnention, plus some that we’d put pre-numbered labels in the year before. I made a note of their BCIDs so I could make journal entries saying that they were still on the shelf. Considering how many got labelled last year, and how many Skyring and others had released there during the convention, there were remarkably few left:

Quiller Barracuda by Adam Hall
A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin
The Color of Fear by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir
Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon
How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Sweetheart Deal by Robert Rosenblum
Wheels by Arthur Hailey

Hopefully all the others are off travelling the world with backpackers who have passed through Dunedin, and will turn up one day somewhere exotic.

We did take one thing off the shelf ourselves: an audiobook of Dolly Parton reading her autobiography. It looked just the right length to entertain us for the trip back to Christchurch, but our plans were thrown awry by the fact that awhina had had the car serviced before we came away, and in the process they’d disconnected her tape deck from the battery for a few seconds, which reset the security code. And of course she couldn’t find where she’d written the code down, so the tape deck was effectively immobilised. So no Dolly for the trip home on Sunday, unfortunately – instead we spent most of the trip talking about the mystery man (who wasn’t that much of a mystery any more, given that we’d had the chance to talk to him at lunch and dinner, and breakfast that morning, and… we left almost feeling like he was an old friend :-))

I seem to be getting ahead of myself here, and have us on the trip home before we actually left Dunedin. Anyway, Awhina and friend wanted to go to church on Sunday morning, so after breakfast while they went off to the cathedral, lytteltonwitch and I went for a walk through town, eventually settling down for an hour or so in an internet cafe to catch up on making journal entries and release notes on some of the books that had passed through our hands over the weekend. Once enough time seemed to have passed for the church service to be over, we headed back to the Octagon, where we had time for lytteltonwitch to find a geocache (kind of assisted by me, though I drew the line at rummaging through the undergrowth amongst the previous night’s rubbish!) while awhina and friend were saying a long goodbye (aww, how sweet…). Once we’d finally pried her out of his arms, it was after 12, so we decided we’d better get on the road and have a late lunch somewhere along the way. None of us wanted to get home too late, so we decided not to have any releasing stops (though I did release The Rector’s Wife by Joanna Trollope in the cafe in Oamaru where we stopped for lunch). Other than lunch, our only stop was at otakuu’s for a cup of tea and to meet the newest additions to her family (she is a foster parent). One of the kids, a very shy little girl of about 3, seemed to take a shine to me, so I spent most of the visit reading with her. Unfortunately, when I got up to leave and lifted her off my knee, I discovered that the dampness I’d thought I’d felt wasn’t just my imagination after all, so the rest of the trip home was a bit uncomfortable (and smelly!).

When I got home, there was a parcel waiting for me: Secrets of the Jury Room by Malcolm Knox, a bookring I signed up for recently. I’ve pretty much stopped signing up for bookrings (the postage was getting too expensive), but that one sounded really interesting. And it is, too – I started reading it yesterday, just to see what it was like, and I’m already over half-way through it. So The Man in the Iron Mask has been put aside yet again, I’m afraid.

I’ve got a nice catch to report, too: A Distant Harbour by Jessica Blair, which I released in Dunedin, and was caught in a different part of Dunedin then re-released in Millers Flat, has just been caught by someone in Christchurch, who found it in their letterbox! I wonder if it was left there by someone who knew them and thought they’d like the book, or if it was just left in a random letterbox?