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Lifeline Bookfest, Caboolture

Once again, fictional character Norman Wallis returned to the Lifeline Bookfest recently; this time it was the mini-Bookfest at Caboolture. There’ll be another big Lifeline Bookfest in January in Brisbane.

They posed no threat to me, the fellow book hunters scanning the upturned spines of secondhand books at the Lifeline mini-Bookfest at Caboolture, near Brisbane recently. We were all there for the same thing, but I didn’t regard them as competitors. We were more in the nature of kindred spirits. I knew we would all find more than enough fascinating old books.
There was an old couple discussing an atlas the man, in a gabardine coat, had picked up. I side-stepped them and kept looking for books. Another fellow with dreadlocks was sitting on a bench along one wall, going through his finds: one was Zen and Success, or some such title.
Then there were the middle-aged men standing at a table of boxes of old records, flicking through them and slapping their finds down onto their stacks. A woman in her sixties pushed a much older woman in a wheel chair around the tables; the older woman with a couple of books in her lap: hardbacks on gardening, mainly.
Two children pointed at books on a table of kids’ books. “No, this one has too many words,” their mother said, flicking through one book and then another. “We’ll get this one for you when you’re older.”
There was a guy with longish grey hair, t-shirt and jeans, rifling through the fantasy and science fiction books. He crouched and saw some cardboard boxes under the table. He went through them like a grave robber looking for something to sell to an anatomy class in 1829, pulling out more sci-fi books and putting them onto his stacks on the floor. When I saw him later at the cash register he had accumulated quite a few. As the kind volunteers counted up his books, he looked around with a satisfied smile; it was almost a leer. I envied him.
The Bookfest – more of a mini-Bookfest when held at Caboolture – was in a little sports hall next to a couple of suburban football fields. But as far as the quality and quantity of my discoveries were concerned, it was just as good as the larger Lifeline Bookfests at the Brisbane Convention Centre
The books in my bag threatened to topple out of the top. Eventually I decided it would be prudent to take them back to my car. I passed a man sitting outside reading a book on cattle dogs, then headed down a hill, around the football field where children were being awarded trophies and getting their pictures taken. I put the bags of books in the passenger seat of my old car. Then I went back up for more books.
All told, I picked up the following gems. They were all a dollar each; two dollars if they were larger books. I won’t bore you with all the titles; just with some of the titles: Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland by Constance Campbell Petrie. First published in 1904, my copy was a 1980 paperback edition.
Hebrew Odes and other Poems, by William Bruce D.D., 1874 edition, inscribed to his daughter. A beautiful little hardback, marone with a gold insignia on the cover. I thought that anything that beautiful that had survived so long, and was going for a dollar, deserved to be bought.
On the Writing of English by George Townsend Warner, M.A. A nice solid little green hardback, no publication date, but it looked early 20th century, maybe 1920s. It’s funny how after a while you can tell the decade of publication of a book just by looking at it — as far back as the late 1800s anyway.
Juvenal, The Sixteen Satires. A Penguin Classic.
Ulysses, by James Joyce. 1960 edition published by Bodley Head. This book is one of my few concessions to Modernism. I’d already read it, but I couldn’t resist this beautiful green hardback for a dollar.
The Fiction Editor, the Novel and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack. Where else would you find a book like this these days?
The Reluctant Admiral. Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy by Hiroyuki Agawa.
10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories. Wonderful.
Many were books I wouldn’t have found anywhere else, and would never have even known about. They literally don’t write them like this anymore; and if they did, no one would tell you about it. The next Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane is in January, close to the city centre in South Brisbane, usually for a few days around Australia Day. It would be worth a trip from anywhere in the world.

-copyright Simon Sandall.