Canberra’s Lifeline Bookfair was busy and cacophonous and wonderful. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone out on a Saturday (I usually show up early on the Friday and late on Sunday) and the foot traffic was a bit of a surprise. It made the Rare Books room all the more amusing to navigate. I spent most of my time in there watching one poor volunteer retrieve a $250 copy of The Hobbit from its cabinet and displaying it to young pervy hobbit fancying girls far more often than could possibly have been healthy. My companions – one friend, two acquaintances and a parent, were more interested in the art books than my people watching.
In the main room the SF&F tables were, as usual, absolutely swarmed by people. I ducked in and around in my search for a few specific titles, and then escaped into the nearly empty but quite well-stocked Crime, Mystery and Thriller tables. I spent a good fifteen minutes browsing the chunk of Kathy Reichs books, not wanting to spend too much on her stuff when I wasn’t sure I’d make my way through one, let alone two books. My two decisions on that count made, I tripped over to Historical fiction. No George MacDonald Fraser sadly, but I did luck out with Bernard Cornwell.
I dutifully scanned the multiple copies of From the Gracchi to Nero and Gods, Graves and Scholars in the Arch/History tables; the discussions of juvenile delinquency in Anth/sociology. While here I was bemused by a young girl’s very disdainful comments regarding dedications and ‘please return to’ inscriptions on the flyleafs of books; she never bought books with those in them, she said, because, well… I never did hear her reasoning. Her younger brother had lost interest, and headed off elsewhere. I shall wonder for some time whether she preferred to collect books that appeared pristine, or if it was the implication of previous caring ownership and dedication that made the books feel less like her own. It was a serendipitous insight into a mindset that I have never experienced.
I bypassed the medical section (big books equals elbows, and I’d already got a full enough bag to be getting on with) and lingered just long enough over the English Literature section to pick up some books that will bring me joy that I cannot find the adjectives to express sufficiently.
The Japanese section had very little of interest. Since I am lax with refreshing my Kanji knowledge, that basically meant that all the good picture books were long gone. I found a very useful book on human anatomy and drawing (manga how-to, but it will be used for many and varied applications) for quite cheap.
Having run around most of the place and being suddenly met by my companions who were all wearing by that point quite exhausted smiles, it was time to head to the tally rooms, pay up, and come home to get intimate with our purchases.
For better or for worse, here is my list, in chronological order of purchase.
(From the Rare Books Room) Bibliomania: A Tale by Gustave Flaubert, Arthur Wragg (Ills.)
The Gap Cycle (five novels) by Stephen Donaldson
The Deathgate Saga Vol. 1 (I didn’t read the title; I picked this up for my bearded half)
The Ragwitch by Garth Nix
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell
The Decipherment of Linear B by John Chadwick
Misreadings by Umberto Eco
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Biographia Literaria by Samuel Coleridge
How to draw bodies – How to Draw Manga Series
Now that I am done, I am quite glad that I made up a reading list before attending. I am far too tempted to start reading quite a few of these, and as soon as I’ve cleaned the sebum of a hundred hungry browsers from their covers, they’re going straight into my bedside piles!