23 January 2007

The Bookfest in Brief

Books bought: 56

Amount spent: $57

Weight carried: 13kg. (14 if you include the junk in my shoulder bag.)

Biggest books bought: Cross Stitch (aka Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon (863 pages); The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum (695 pages); Sophie’s Choice by William Styron (684 pages).

Weirdest reason for buying a book: I picked up a copy of Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel to replace the one my mother is convinced was pinched by our resident ghost.

Timeliest find: The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden.

Oops!: A call went out over the PA system for a copy of She by ‘Rider H. Haggard’.

So near, and yet so far: Plenty of crossword dictionaries, but no books of killer Scrabble words. Also, dozens upon dozens of Ludlums, but only the first two of the Bourne trilogy.

Most oxymoronic book title spotted: The Science of Psychic Healing. Not surprisingly, on one of the Humour & Oddities tables.

Strangest book request: Someone was after a copy of The Secrets of Vinegar.

Shortest books bought: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (128 pages); Daisy Miller and Other Stories by Henry James (146 pages); Madame Crowl’s Ghost and Other Stories by Sheridan le Fanu (174 pages).

Who would read...? The Running Shoe Book (a complete history); The Encyclopedia of Canaries.

Struck speechless by: The mystery fan who, four kids in tow, knelt down to retrieve some Agatha Christies from the pile under the table - right in front of me. Without so much as a by-your-leave beforehand or an apology afterward. Or, indeed, any acknowledgement that I was even there and waiting to go forwards.

Been on screen: The Last King of Scotland, My Brilliant Career, Enigma, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Sophie’s Choice, The Silence of the Lambs, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Missing in action: Truman Capote (I’ve now lost count of the number of years I’ve been wanting to lay hands on In Cold Blood). And, surprisingly, Anthony Trollope. Every year I’ve seen his books on the Literature tables, every year I’ve thought I really must get around to reading them, and every year I’ve passed over them in favour of something else. And now when I was absolutely determined to start reading his books, there wasn’t a single one in sight.

Relieved to see: That the cover art of the Georgette Heyers I bought did not (unlike a certain copy of The Reluctant Widow) feature the hairstyles and clothing of the 1970s.

Books for the next blackout: Madame Crowl’s Ghost and Other Stories by Sheridan le Fanu; Dracula. Reading horror by the light of storm lanterns is wonderfully atmospheric. Might be waiting a while though; there haven’t been many storms here this storm season, much less power outages.

Most challenging moment: Heading into the High Quality section in search of North and South, and North and South ONLY. (Followed within the hour by Biggest Moment of Weakness.)

Can’t wait to re-read: Tracy Grant’s Daughter of the Game. I borrowed this Regency-set thriller from the library in 2005 and when I saw it at the Bookfest, I just had to have it (see Biggest Moment of Weakness, above).

Most ego-boosting book title spotted: The Natural Superiority of the Left-Handed.

Biggest disappointment: Being in the High Quality section with three books I really wanted - and only enough money for two. Something had to be jettisoned, and I decided it would have to be the heaviest. So I had to bid a sad farewell to Michel Faber’s (enormous) The Crimson Petal and the White.

Unexpected fringe benefit: Eavesdropping on the train home and picking up a bit of gossip about the cause of Saturday’s fender-bender outside our place. Seems one driver swerved to miss some kids playing on the road - and there’s only one neighbour with any of those....


  1. Wow-$1 a book--that's a bargain! Sophie's Choice was one of my favorite books that I read last year!! Too bad about the Faber--another good read, but it is pretty heavy to drag around--especially with a bunch of other books!

  2. That was quite a haul! Must of been a really great book sale. I love "Outlander", btw.

  3. Danielle: Yes . . . I don't think I would have been carrying the Faber around with me to read on the train! Sophie's Choice is one of those books I can't believe I haven't read yet. It might take a few months to get to . . . I'm not sure what's where in my now-towering TBR pile.

    Chris: Actually, carting 50-something books home from the Bookfest passes for normal in my world (which goes to show the amount of backache I'm willing to put myself through to feed my addiction). I read Outlander a couple of years ago and can't wait to sit down with it again.

  4. 56 books for 57 dollars?!?! THAT is amazing!

  5. It sure is, even though they are pre-loved. I guess when you've got one and a half million of them on offer, you can afford to be generous. And starting the prices at fifty cents is a surefire way to draw the crowds.

  6. Sounds like you were in Heaven!


  7. I am impressed by the wrap-up of your hunt, and envious of the hunting grounds.

  8. I love how you described your book hunt. My public library is having a book sale in a few weeks and I may have to borrow this :)

  9. What a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventures in booktopia!

    But you must be sure to pick up a copy of The Crimson Petal and The White sometime as it is a fabulous book - great escapist historical fiction!

  10. Quillhill: All flattery, as usual, gratefully received!

    Iliana: Happy to have been an inspiration ;-) and I hope you have a great time at your book sale.

    Lesley: Booktopia - I love that! The Faber is now at the top of my list of books to look out for at the library and if I see it, I don't think I'll care how much it weighs!


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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776