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Interview

Lifeline Bookfest

Norman Wallis reports on the decluttering he undertook for the Lifeline Bookfest. Many of the books he’d bought at the Bookfest wound up back there again…

Norman Wallis reports on the Lifeline Bookfest June 2018

Most of my book collection consists of Lifeline Bookfest books. But I had too many of the dashed things. There is no better source of books than Lifeline Bookfests. I especially like old memoirs and histories. Stuff you’d never hear of otherwise.
But I had to declutter. I was going through my book collection with a view to a kill, as it were. This wasn’t going to be an easy task to assay. But it was a rewarding one. Some of the books I’ve bought are more than a hundred years old — most of the previous owners are long gone. One feels a responsibility toward these books and their previous owners. But I could get overly sentimental about books, too.
I decided to donate a book for the Bookfest if I wasn’t going to read it again. Exceptions were made if it was a rare book, or at least if it would be difficult to obtain again. Or if it was a gift. Not that there were many of those.
I started placing books into my sports bag, to take them to the Lifeline Superstore in Boondall, in the north of Brisbane, so they could be collected for the Lifeline Bookfest in June. Many of the books I had piled up on the floor didn’t really need to be there. Each day, for a few days, I aimed to place between ten and twenty books into the bag. There were some hard choices to make. I threw out books I never thought I would discard: and not just old books. They included books I’d ordered new, from overseas, comics anthologies for example. Out they went if I didn’t think I’d read them again.
And when you are ruthless like that, one really sees where one’s values and interests lie. It wasn’t easy, but I haven’t missed any of the books I’ve donated. I have no regrets on this matter.
Although I admit, sometimes when I arrived at the Lifeline Superstore to hand over some books, I changed my mind at the last minute and kept some. Sometimes a book made several trips to the Superstore, only to return home at the last minute.
But at least I removed a lot of books I didn’t really need. And I certainly had no intention of going to the Bookfest in June. I already had too many of these great books. But there were a couple of days left in the weeklong Bookfest and I thought I might just pop in. Maybe I’d spot one or two nice ones on the last day. It had happened before. They dropped the prices on the last afternoon, too. Yes, I thought. I’ll just take a little backpack, not my usual big sports bag.
Then I thought, well, what if I come across more than a few good books on the tables. I’d feel pretty foolish if I only had my little backpack. I’d seen people walking around Bookfests, juggling towers of books. It wasn’t pretty. So I pulled the sports bag down from the top of the wardrobe again. Just in case. I was geed up about going, too. They’re exciting events, Bookfests. One never knows what one shall find. But I caught the flu and had to miss out. Never mind. There’s always next time.

-Norman Wallis returns next Bookfest