19 January, 2006

The Glory Days of Book Fest

We've been silent awhile, and I've got myself into this whole blogging business - so here's another one from the ranter.

The topic of today's rant is my fond memories of Book Festing - just the thing to lead me into the joy of it starting this Saturday 21 January for a crazy six days, culminating, as always, on Australia/Invasion Day.

I think Book Fests are for the true book lovers and hoarders, and all you sci-fi/fantasy nerds out there. I always see my favourite second hand book dealer there - he's usually finishing up as I start. I often see former boyfriends as well. If you're a nerd, you just date other nerds, okay? The only non-book reader I ever dated looked terribly disappointed and hurt when I ignored him because a book was more gripping at that point in time. The real problem was that he stayed hurt, as if it was some terrible blow that I should prefer to read. Weirdo.

I once share-housed with two sci-fi geeks. We all traipsed down together to Book Fest. I watched them rush in as the doors swung open, while I sat outside waiting for the crowd to die down. I want no part of that stampede! We who do not read so much sci-fi / fantasy have all the time in the world to browse and find excellent books. After Book Fest, they go home and pile up their finds, and like boys, compare who has the most D*cks (that's Philip K.). It's then my turn to bargain away from them any double ups they've collected, or beg and plead for any Stanislaw Lems they got.

My favourite pile is the "Penguin" file where I will, every year, pick up a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago". When I am in the queue, with my fellow book-loving partner, he will say: "Um. Why do you have Solzhenitsyn again? You're never going to read it." And I say: "oh yeah." And cull it. This year, I promise not to pick up a single Solzhenitsyn tome. Cross my heart.

We cull other things we've collected as well. Culling is the fun bit. We make my must-have pile, his must-have pile, the oops-why-did-we-pick-these-up pile, the we-need-to-discuss-it-more pile, the maybes and the double-ups.
Conversations go (we're on a first name basis with most of our authors):

Me: Have we got this Graham (Greene)?
Him: Yep.
Me: How about this one?
Him: Yep.
Me: Do you remember if I already have this Thea (Astley)?
Him: Yep
Me: This Thea is newer looking that than one we have at home, isn't it?
He looks at me sadly. And then --
Him: Hey - you found Tom (Robbins).
Me: Yeah. Have we go it?
Him: No (in amazement).
Together: woo hoo!

And so ends another fabulous day at Book Fest.

We always try to resist going to the last day - it's half price off everything in the High Quality section (they mean how the book looks, not what it actually is - you find a lot more crap in the High Quality section then anywhere else); and a bag of books from the "unpriced" section for small change. We always fail and somehow end up there.

All together now - Yippee! Another Book Fest!

- Oanh

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