Bookcrossing is all about giving away books, right? Then how come over the last three days I’ve managed to give away seven books, but acquire twelve?
On Saturday, we had a bookcrossing picnic in the botanic gardens. Quite a few people who’d said they’d be there weren’t (probably because the weather has been so iffy all last week, although it turned out to be a gloriousy sunny day on Saturday), but the stalwarts (me and lytteltonwitch) were there, of course, plus I managed to drag MrPloppy along, and WhiteRabbit turned up, which was great, because we haven’t seen her at a meetup for ages.
We’d planned a lucky dip book exchange: everyone was to bring a book, suitably giftwrapped, which we’d then put in a pile and each select one from. I’d brought Notes From the Country Club by Kim Wozencraft as my gift book, and as MrPloppy didn’t have any available books of his own to bring, I’d given him Let the Dog Drive by David Bowman to bring as his one. Because there were so few of us, distributing the books so that nobody went home with their own one got a bit complicated, and MrPloppy ended up picking up Let the Dog Drive, but I think he’d actually wanted to read it anyway 🙂 Lytteltonwitch had brought a few extra gift books, so we shared them out too, and I ended up with Appointment at the Palace by Mary Jane Staples (which I’ll probably read, just on the basis that it was a gift, despite the fact it doesn’t look like my normal reading material) and Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy. Lytteltonwitch hates Maeve Binchy, and knows I’m not a great fan either, so she wasn’t at all offended when I asked if she’d mind if I just released it unread. So I sat it at the base of a tree that was near enough where we were picnicing that we could see if anyone caught it, but not so near as to put anyone off picking it up. We watched it for the next hour or so, as we sat there enjoying the sun, but maybe we watched it a bit too closely, because although a lot of people walked past, and a few stopped for a second look, nobody was interested enough to pick it up 🙁 In the end I retrieved it and released it again later (along with The Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp) in another part of the gardens where it was more likely to attract attention.
As well as the gift books, we’d all of course brought books to share, and I picked up two books WhiteRabbit had brought along: The Map of Tenderness by William Wall and Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (WhiteRabbit and I have similar reading tastes, so I trust her recommendations, and often catch books she brings to meetups), and in return passed on The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, and Typhoid Mary by Anthony Bourdain. I’d also brought along Four & Twenty Blackbirds by Mercedes Lackey and the All New Slow Cooker recipe book, but nobody wanted them, so I released Four & Twenty Blackbirds in the gardens, and took the recipe book home again (because recipe books don’t seem to work very well as wild releases – I suppose people don’t like to take a book home to their kitchen when they don’t know where it’s been).
So, total releases for Saturday: 7, total catches: 4 – I was at least 3 books ahead at that point. But then I got home to a PM from libragirl telling me that the m-bag from America had arrived.
M-bags are a wonderful concept, in the Bookcrossing context. In the context of the US postal service, they’re just the big sacks that mail comes in. If you’re sending a whole sackful of mail to the same address, they give you a discount rate for the postage. Groups of US bookcrossers take advantage of the deal from time to time to send a big pile of books to another country, where they can then be distributed among the local bookcrossers or released into the wild. Anyway, a few months ago jamesmum decided to organise an m-bag for New Zealand. Libragirl volunteered to be the recipient and distribution point in NZ, and jamesmum put out the call for US bookcrossers to send her books that they’d like to send to someone in NZ. At the same time, she and a few other Americans asked NZ bookcrossers to look through their bookshelves and see if there was anything we liked the look of that they could send us. I took up the offer, and sent jamesmum and MarciNYC my wish-list of books they had that sounded interesting to me. And then, given the snail-like pace of mail from the US, time passed and I forgot all about my requests. So libragirl’s PM came as a pleasant surprise. Even more of a pleasant surprise was discovering, when I got home tonight, that libragirl had dropped the books off (she works not far from where I live), and that instead of the one or two books I was expecting, there were six – jamesmum and MarciNYC had sent almost everything on my lists! I was sent:
- ‘Tis by Frank McCourt
- Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
- Starplex by Robert J Sawyer
- In Our Strange Gardens by Michel Quint
- White Rose by Amy Ephron
- Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
And not only that, but two parcels had arrived as well: a bookring book, Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman (which MrPloppy has already snaffled, because it’s a couple of books down in my TBR pile, so I probably won’t get to read it before Christmas anyway), and a surprise RABK of The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth from LeafOfHumanTree in Sydney, who thought a book about a cat should go to a suitably catty home 🙂
An embarrasment of riches, really!
Currently reading: Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear