This weekend the Downtown Community Ministry held its famous Bookfair. For a bookaholic like me it's a major event. Every year I had to decide how to resist buying ridiculous numbers of books - given that I just didn't have any room for more, unless I removed some first (though I've sometimes resorted to buying them one year, reading them, and taking them back the next year.) This year, with the gaps left by Harvey's poetry collection, I knew the temptation would be even worse than usual.
For some years, too, I've been wanting to go down and help sort the books beforehand. Of course I really did want to help this brilliant organisation with tis biggest fundraising drive of the year, and I knew I'd be pretty good at sorting. But also - I thought that if I was helping in this way, I would get an early look at what was available and maybe just confine myself to one or two books I really couldn't live without...
Harvey's illness put this idea on hold, because I couldn't help for long enough to be useful. But this year there was nothing to stop me. Unfortunately I offered my services too late - they already had enough sorters. They did want help, though, on the weekend itself. I thought about it, and said yes. After all, I figured, if I was helping I wouldn't be exposed to nearly as much temptation - but I would still get to look at the books for a little while at least.
It all worked out perfectly. I got myself down there early on a wet, cold Saturday, met loads of lovely people I knew, and managed to be useful handing out plastic bags, pointing people in the right direction, and above all, giving free rein to my inner librarian by going round picking up piles of discarded books and returning them not just to their correct table, but to the right section. (I even rescued one of my own books from "Women's Health" and moved it to its rightful place in "Women and Politics".)
And at lunchtime, when the crowd thinned out a bit, I did have a quick browse, confining myself to biography and picking up just five books - such restraint!
The other news of the week (and the reason this post is a bit late, sorry) is that my first paying guest has arrived. I advertised with the universities for short-stay visiting academics, and Julio replied. He's a young mathematician from Brazil, and we're getting on very well indeed (see Something Else to Eat). I'm so pleased I got up the courage to do this. As I told him today, he's setting a very high standard for anyone who comes after him.