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

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