Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Why I Love Book Fairs

I've decided I absolutely love book fairs. Quite a lot of book people I know don't, you see. They find them too crowded and hectic, not enough fresh air and too many annoying people. But I'm an official fan.

I was wondering why, and I realized I do love small-talk with other book people. I think that just about sums it up. I love wandering around and meeting people I vaguely know by chance, and the serendipity of what you end up talking about. This year, apart from the obvious "me, me, me" I had conversations about ending relationships, living in buses, going to New York, the Happy Mondays, graphic novels, evading the binarity of atheism vs. faith, jewellery, young German writers, rent levels in Berlin, getting spotted by modelling talent scouts ("You're never too old!"), those awful elbow-patches on jackets, and sushi. And books.

That's probably the best part. In normal small-talk, one might be embarrassed to reveal one's slavish passion for German-language literature. But at a book fair, people seem to genuinely admire that in a person. Great, huh? Also, the level of acquaintance with the people you meet rarely goes beyond vague or professional. So you don't know people well enough to find each other anything but absolutely delightful and charming.

I'm sure the shine would pall if life was one long book fair. But as it is, I think I need that fix of mutual appreciation to bolster my ego at least twice a year.

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