Cleaning, and Kimis, and books

(And just because I know you’re all thinking it, I’m not going to append “oh my” to the title! :-P)

Tonight’s the big coming out, when the film crew arrive to expose my secret identity. Ok, so the big coming out won’t actually be until whenever the documentary gets shown, which probably won’t be for months, but after tonight I can’t change my mind about it.

Actually, I’m less nervous about the coming out than about the whole being filmed thing – why on earth did I, who hates being in front of a camera, agree to this? I don’t even like being photographed, how am I ever going to cope with acting natural and talking coherently while there’s a TV camera pointed at me? I feel like I’ve been preparing for an oral exam – I keep studying up on the facts and figures of bookcrossing (oh no, what if she asks me how many books are in the wild? – better memorise that number too…) Of course, a more intelligent person would reason that with the magic of editing, they can cut out all the bits where I say “um, I don’t know” and go and look it up…

In all my fact checking, I did find one useful (and encouraging) statistic. One thing reporters (and newbies) always want to know is what the catch rate is. The standard answer has always been 10%, and the last time I checked (a couple of years ago), my catch rate was around there too, but I’ve noticed 20% quoted a few times lately. That seemed pretty high to me, so I thought I’d work out my stats again (it’s not as easy a calculation as it sounds, because although the number of catches you’ve had is displayed on your bookshelf, that figure includes catches from controlled releases. To work out your genuine wild catch rate, you basically have to go through your shelf and count them.) And to my immense surprise, my catch rate has gone up to 19.6%!!! It makes sense for it to have increased over time, I suppose, given that so many catches I get are for books I released years ago, but I’m amazed it’s increased that much. Nice to have some evidence that the bookcrossing concept actually works.

The other major preparation for tonight has been tidying the house, especially the study (where my computer is) and the spare room (where most of the bookcases are), because Scarlett said she wants to film me at my computer and in front of a bookcase. So I spent most of the weekend tidying up (while at the same time trying to make it look like I hadn’t spent the whole weekend obsessively tidying up – you know, the ever-so-casually placed bits and pieces lying around to prove that this is what it normally looks like, honestly :-)). The study wasn’t too bad, because despite normally looking like a bomb has hit it, it’s actually semi-organised chaos, so doesn’t take *that* much effort to straighten up. The spare room, on the other hand, took a lot of work. It was originally envisioned as a sun room, but has gradually evolved into a “throw all the junk you can’t decide what to do with into” room, so needed a lot of sorting out. And the bookcases I’m supposed to be filmed in front of were the literary equivalent of the room – over the years they’ve been the dumping ground for books that wouldn’t fit on other shelves, Mt TBR, textbooks, books I’d set aside to be released and then forgotten, books I hadn’t decided whether to release or not… until the books were stacked two-deep, with more piled on top.

So sorting that out was well overdue, and actually turned out to be quite a profitable exercise, because I found a few books I’d completely forgotten I had. I also decided to be ruthless with Mt TBR, and removed all the books that had been on it for years and I knew I’d never actually get round to reading, so my to-be-released box is now full to overflowing. And after the cleanup there’s enough room on the shelves for all the books again, so they look much tidier. I was tempted to let my inner snob come out and fill the shelves behind where I’ll be sitting with all the classics and “worthy” books from my collection, to look impressive on TV, but in the end honesty won out, and I left it as the random assortment that is my true reading style 🙂

The other excitement of the weekend was the Kimis coming to visit. They were down in Christchurch for the William Morris exhibition at the art gallery, and stopped off for dinner at our place on their way to the airport. They’re the ideal dinner guests, too, because they bring their own dinner – a huge feed of Thai takeaways (even if a large quantity ended up in Kimi’s lap instead of on our plates!). Ming was especially impressed, and was eating bamboo shoots with gusto (that cat gets weirder all the time!). A brief visit, but great to catch up with them again.

Having found all those releasable books, and with the good news about my stats, I’ve been inspired to do some releasing this week, so I’ve been popping a few books in my bag each morning to drop off on my way to work. Yesterday I released The Group by Mary McCarthy, Joking Apart by Alan Ayckbourn, The Social Behaviour of Monkeys by Thelma Rowell, Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice, and Iron Cage by Andre Norton, and today I’ve released Star Struck edited by Betty M Owen, The Assistant by Bernard Malamud, Evan Help Us by Rhys Bowen, and Parkinson’s Lore by Michael Parkinson. Plus of course I’ll be releasing a few more tonight for the cameras 🙂

Currently reading: Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

Currently listening to: Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

I’m gonna be famous!

The more observant of you may have noticed I haven’t got any further with writing up the trip. Put that down to a bit of a relapse into depression, contributed to partly by sheer exhaustion after all that travelling, combined with normal post-holiday let down, but mostly by the general stress at work (more on that later in a locked post). I really do intend to write everything up soon, and have made a few false starts, but every time I sit down at the computer determined to get on with it this time, I run out of oomph and end up browsing random internet sites or playing Puzzle Pirates.

Anyway, on to more interesting things than me making yet another excuse for not blogging: I’m gonna be famous! Scarlett-CH, a film student at CPIT, is making a documentary about Bookcrossing and contacted me to ask if I’d like to be involved. Free publicity is always good, even if it is only on one of the little local channels that hardly anyone watches, so of course I said yes, but not without a little trepidation – after all, I’ve guarded my anonymity pretty closely, and while I’ve managed to get in the paper (Warning, that article is full of misquotes (or totally invented quotes!) and incorrect facts – the reporter wasn’t the best at note-taking. But she did I think do a good job of conveying the feel of bookcrossing) without revealing my secret identity, that’s not so easy on TV. Scarlett did say she could arrange an interview where they didn’t show my face, but the idea of appearing only in silhouette, with a computer-generated voice (I’ve got no idea if that’s what she intended, but it’s the image that immediately sprang to mind) seemed a bit over the top, as well as having a few too many connotations of criminality – not quite the image we want to portray of Bookcrossing.

There followed much soul-searching, about why exactly I value my anonymity so much (difficult to explain, even to myself – a lot of it just comes down to habit, the rest is a vague feeling of “what if the people I work with think I’m weird?), and the advantages and disadvantages of “coming out” (on the plus side, if I do have to start applying for jobs, being able to list all the voluntary work I do for Bookcrossing would look great on my CV – especially the convention organising stuff), and in the end, I realised that the issue has pretty much been decided for me, seeing as my photo has been plastered all over the internet in the course of this trip – it’s even in the latest bookcrossing newsletter! So hiding my face seems a bit pointless now.

So the upshot is, I told Scarlett that yes she could film me for the documentary, and use my real name. So she’s coming round next week with her film crew to interview me, and film me doing typical bookcrossery things – eek, I’d better tidy up the study!

In all the excitement of the last month, I haven’t reported on some great catches I’ve had recently:

The Taxidermist’s Dance by Richard Lunn travelled from Christchurch to Dunedin, and was caught by a librarian.

Adam Bede by George Eliot, released at the Richard Pearce memorial outside Temuka, was caught there by some tourists who’ve taken it back to Australia with them.

Stone Maiden by Pamela Townley, released two years ago at the Dunedin convention, has finally been caught, but has lost a few pages in its travels 🙁

Laws of Our Fathers by Scott Turow, caught and re-released at the university.

The Venetian Affair by Helen MacInnes, another book from our Easter expedition, caught in Albury.

Biggles Goes to War by WE Johns – another one from the Dunedin convention, caught two years later.

Death Wore a Diadem by Iona McGregor – caught at the university, and destined to travel to the US.

The Train Robbers by Piers Paul Readanother catch from our Easter expedition! That was a very productive trip!

One by Richard Bach, caught by someone who really needed something nice to happen to them that day – this is the kind of journal entry that keeps me wild releasing.

Within the Bounds by Marc Lodge, caught in Christchurch and re-released in Santiago!

And one that’s not strictly my catch, because it was Pixette who originally released it into the wild, but is cool just because it’s now on its second wild catch, and is back in the wild again (interesting too for having four journallers but no release notes): Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

Currently reading: Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

Currently listening to: Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

In Summary

Ok, I’ve been back long enough now that the jet lag has mostly worn off (I’ve managed to convince my body clock to sleep at normal times, but I haven’t quite adjusted back to normal meal times yet – I keep getting hungry at really weird times, then not be hungry when it’s actually time to eat), so I’ve got no excuse to not at least attempt to fill in some of the gaps in my trip blogging.

I’m suffering very much from where-do-I-start-itis, so I’ll take the easy way out and start with a summary of the trip, or at least of the books that passed through my hands (hey, it was a Bookcrossing World Tour, after all – books are the whole point! :-))




Bath and Stonehenge





Road trip


Fort Worth



Ok, that took much longer than I expected, so I don’t think I’ll be organising my photos today…

I’m home!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

Insert baseball-related song or movie title of your choice here

Well, I’ve been to my first ever ball game, and it was great fun. I think there was some sort of sport being played on the field, but I was more fascinated by all the other stuff going on, in the crowd, on the screens, and on the field when the players weren’t. There was a horse-headed mascot who catapulted t-shirts into the crowd, a race between coloured dots, children winning prizes for looking slightly stunned on the big screen, the national anthem (and yes, just about everyone in the crowd did do that hand on heart thing!), players throwing hissy fits, fireworks and streamers, exhortations to random couples in the crowd to kiss, cheesy organ music, “We heart (player of choice)” banners, and of course lots of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and cotton candy (all of which we had to sample to ensure we were getting the full ball game experience). We had our photo taken by the official photographer (apparently we’ll be able to see it on some website somewhere), attempted to vote for player of the year or something (except I managed to lose the voting form somewhere between our highly scientific selection process (picking all the players with the silliest names) and the usher coming back to collect them), sang along to “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, and generally had a great time.

Ok, for those who insist on knowing such things, it was the Texas Rangers playing the Kansas City somethingorothers (Royals?), and Texas won. Otakuu (who used to play softball so understood all the words Turbostitcher was using) can probably tell you more than that. All I know is someone got a home run, because that’s why the fireworks went off.

And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re in Texas 🙂