February 13, 2010
Sometimes a BookCrosser has to determine the right time to launch into an excited explanation of BookCrossing… and sometimes a BookCrosser needs to know when it’s best to stay quiet and let it speak for itself.
At book festivals and events with BCinDC, of course, I will gladly explain the concept as I’m handing out free books to strangers. But this shy and quiet BookCrosser is guilty of, more than once, passing up a good opportunity to explain BookCrossing to a complete stranger who has seen a random book I’ve left in the wild. I often wonder later if I should have said something. Recently, though, I came across an instance where I’m glad I stayed quiet.
Markeroni is a site, started by a fellow BookCrosser, that helps you hunt down & log historical landmarks. Several BookCrossers here in BCinDC have recently picked this up as another hobby. When we meet to go on all-day marker hunts (called snarfaris) we always bring books to release along the way. In June, crrcookie, authorauthor, melydia, and I (KateKintail) met in historic Fairfax to go on a snarfari. Crrcookie arrived at the City of Fairfax Visitor’s Center & Museum first and talked to the curator on duty there while waiting for the rest of us.
(L->R: melydia, authorauthor, KateKintail, lilgrovers, crrcookie)
I arrived next and left a book on the bench in front of the museum. We explained BookCrossing to the curator, Cami, and she seemed delighted by the idea and promised to leave the book where it was so someone could find it. Authorauthor left a book in front of the museum as well, which was gone by the end of the day and was caught. The book I left there, Rainbow Six, was almost caught by my boss by coincidence that day (read about that here), and then was later caught by someone else and taken to Indiana.
A few weeks later I was driving around on my own to local historical sites and I decided to visit Blenheim, a house occupied by soldiers during the Civil War. I had a Civil War book to theme release there for the History Challenge and left it on one of the pillars outside the Civil War Interpretive Center on my way in.
One of the two women working there that day recognized me right away: it was Cami! There were enough people in the center to comprise a tour group, so I looked around the center a little as Cami rounded everyone up. When we headed out of the center to follow the path leading to the historic house, everyone spotted my released book sitting right there. “Oh, it looks like BookCrossers have been here!” Cami exclaimed happily, gesturing toward the book. She gave me a quick smile and my stomach fluttered nervously. I thought for sure she would put me on the spot and make me describe BookCrossing to the whole tour group. Quickly I started scripting something in my head. But, to my great surprise, Cami let me keep my anonymity while still spreading the word about BookCrossing. “Have any of you heard of BookCrossing?” she asked the group, which hadn’t. “People leave free books all around town; it’s like book fairies have been here. You can pick up one of the books and go online to find out where the book has been. Then it’s yours to read and leave somewhere else. It’s a great idea.”
I was thrilled, not only because I really enjoyed her description, but because it came from someone “official.” Many people in the group looked genuinely interested. In addition, it was wonderful that she actually remembered from several weeks before what it was called and how it all worked. Not only had we made an impression on her, but she wanted others to know about it as well.
The tour was lovely. Going inside Blenheim to see the writings and drawings soldiers had made on the walls was amazing. Several deer came out in the middle of the day to watch us tour the grounds as well. I’d forgotten completely about the book I’d released there an hour before, but one of the other people on the tour hadn’t. As we were heading back to the center to end the tour, I saw her approach Cami and heard her ask “What was that neat book thing you were talking about called again?”
The experience gave me insight into how some people view BookCrossing when they find out about it. It was wonderful to be able to be stand back completely and listen.