Last weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of being in Colchester for the annual BookCrossing UK UnCon. It was three days filled with books, authors, friends, reading, wild releases, food, and the ocassional game. It was my third UnCon but definatly the most enjoyable so far.
Before I had even arrived the Friday fun had begun. There was a getting-to-know-each-other quiz, and loads of books were dropped off to share with all-comers. Meanwhile I was travelling across the country, getting stuck in traffic jams, collapsing infront of the TV and then catching up on my reading.
Saturday was the day that the UnCon really started for me. I was up bright and early, had a lovely breakfast, and then walked 20 minutes to our two weekend venues.
The first was Slack Space, which hosted a large range of books registered and then donated by BookCrossers. This was first opened to members only, then to the general public later in the day. I believe that there were also some craft activities here during the weekend.
5 minutes away was our other venue- The Headgate Theatre. This lovely building hosted our speakers, as well as a bar, the raffle, games, and athour signings. It was here tha I spent most of my time after dropping off some of my 'spare' books.
There were four authors who spoke to us during Saturday:
- Elizabeth Haynes
Elizabeth spoke openly about how she became an author (after participating in Nano amongst other things), how her characters came about, and differences in UK and US versions of her books. She seemed very relaxed in her presentation and easily conviced me to buy a copy of 'Revenge of the Tide' from her (which I got signed as well.2. Anthony Grey
Anthony Grey's experiences in China were amazing he was held in China for 27 months in the 1960s)! I could have listened to him speaking about them for hours! If you ever get a chance to hear him speak go for it! I pre-ordered a copy of the new version of 'The Hostage Handback' just so that I could hear more about his time in solitary confinement.3. Mark Billingham & 4. Martyn Waites.
These two crime fiction authors spoke together. Both of them were hilarious in their presentation, with Mark Billingham reading a spoof based on 'Fifty Shades of Grey' as his intoduction to us. Martyn Waites read an extract from 'Choked' (which he wrote as Tania Carver) that had me so gripped that I had to buy a copy depsite not normally enjoying crime fiction. Both talked about recent scandels in falsifying online reviews, as well as the importance of getting a reader interesting right from the beginning of a book.
After the talks there was time to buy some BookCrossing goodies. I ended up with lots of release bags, some labels, bookmarks and a t-short. These are not essential to be a BookCrosser, but they're always useful (especially if, like me, you enjoy wild releasing books- for thoe unfamiliar with BC, this means leaving books for others to fnd).
Then we played a new game, nicknamed the 'bookbag game'. There were severa genre-based book bags and one with bookcrossing goodies in it (plus two verry special seperate books). Each player was given 10 cards. The game organiser then shouted out the name of a card and the 2/3 players with that card grabbed a bag of their choice. Each time one of your cards was shouted out you could nick a bag off someone else. When you ran out of cards you then got to keep one of the bags infront of you. he most popular bag was the one with the new J.K. Rowling book in it, causing most people to run to make sure they got it before anyoe else.I ended up winning thee 'popular fiction' bag containing 5 books, a result that Im very happy with.
There were various options for dinner. I chose to go to a Lebanese restuarant that was very good value. I think most people went either to Pizza Express or a pub, though some chose the Thai option. This was a good time to socialise and get to know others better.
Sunday was my favourite day. This was the day when we got to spend the morning spreading books around Colchester for others to find (wild releasing). Its always very amusing to overhear people discussing why there seem to be so many books hanging around the town. Plus the difference reaction of people to the book is interesting- some ignore them, others pick them up and look puzzled, some check to see if its a hoax, others pick them up and take them home with eyes wide-opened. I hope that those who 'caught' our books will enjoy them and let us know that they are now safe with them.
The last activity before heading home was to visit a postbox library in Little Bentley. This turned out to be amazingly well-stocked! We swapped some of our books for others from the box and left some literarure about bookcrossing for anyone who might be interested. I'm hoping to find some more postbox libraries sometime because they are so different and a great idea!
Who knows where the UnCon will be next year (some seem to think Leeds), but I'm pretty sure I'll be there. Why not come and join us as well!?
Click here for more about the UnCon in The Colchester Chronicle