14 June 2010

Bookfest 2010

Yesterday I discovered a new way to tell you’re surrounded by kindred bookish spirits: When you make a public spectacle of yourself by audibly cheering and grinning like an idiot on spotting the book you most wanted to find, and none of your fellow browsers give you a second glance. I guess people who spend their weekends pushing shopping trolleys round book sales and crossing acquisitions off neatly computer-printed lists are people to whom such book-induced elation makes perfect sense.

Yes, after seventeen months of ekeing out last year’s supply, it’s Bookfest time again. (For those unfortunate souls living elsewhere in the world: The Bookfest is a twice-yearly fundraiser for a telephone counselling charity. For nine days in January and four it June, it takes over two halls of the Convention and Exhibition Centre and fills hundreds of metres of tables with tens of thousands of books from a stockpile of two million. It’s the biggest second-hand book sale in the world, and it’s better than Christmas. I’ve even heard that there are people as far away as New Zealand who schedule their holidays around the January edition and go home with their year’s supply.)

Since I had - just - enough to keep me reading until June (if I borrowed enough from the library) I decided to wait until winter and enjoy some mild weather in which to lug home 9kg of books. Or a rather cool twilight, actually, by the time I finally arrived home :-) Which wasn’t entirely my fault; a missing train made me late to start with. But things really looked up from there.

The is something wonderfully relaxing about an enormous room filled with books. Even better when prices start from $0.50 and you have all day to browse. It wasn’t long before I was dragging my loaded bags along the ground. (I have got to get one of those tall bags on wheels that little old ladies use. The Bookfest really would be heaven on earth if I didn’t wind up with aching shoulders at the end of it.) But who’s going to complain when there’s books they’ve been wanting to read for years (Nancy Mitford, Ira Levin, Laura Esquivel) going for a song?

So I spent a happy day browsing the tables, accumulating novels, wondering whether anyone would ever buy those guides to Windows 3.1, and feeling thankful that the last time I went shoe shopping I bought a comfortable pair of sandals with a mere two-inch heel.

And then, at two-thirty in the afternoon, I saw it. Venus in Copper. The third book of the Falco series. The one book of the Falco series of which the Brisbane City Council library has zero copies. Hence the aforementioned overexcitement. (Not that my jubilation slowed me down; I pounced on that book like mongoose on a snake.) It would have to be the best bit of sheer dumb luck I’ve ever encountered at a Bookfest.

Now my TBR box is so full it only just fits onto the bottom shelf of the bookcase. I’ve got another 45 books to read for a mere $57.50, and all for a good cause. And I really wish I’d selected the “Mor-book-ly Obese” option in the Chunkster Challenge, because a quarter of my new books are big enough to qualify. Which I guess explains the overcrowding!

The book that will fill the final place in the Chunkster Challenge? When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Penman ... all 909 pages of it.


  1. Awww I want to go!

  2. Me too!

    I swore I would never get one of those trolley things, but we ended up getting one when we went to the Good Food and Wine Show and it was such a relief to not be carrying those heavy bags.

  3. Sounds exciting! I can see stocking up for an entire year at those prices.


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