Bookfest Saves The Day

Two weeks back at the coal face and it feels like two months…..

There is a ray of sunshine however. Tomorrow marks the opening of the Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane. Do you know what that means? Around about 4 kilometres of trestle tables covered in preloved books, DVDs, magazines, CDs, stationary, and jigsaw puzzles, all at bargain prices.


All funds raised at the Bookfest support Lifeline and UnitingCare Community programs for individuals, families and children. In Queensland, UnitingCare Community runs Lifeline services such as Crisis Support Service and post-disaster Community Recovery Programs. Which means that if I overspend on the household budget there is no guilt, right?


Bookfest runs for just over a week and everyday there are new books. I volunteered one year to replenish books in the evenings and it was a colossal task.

When my youngest daughter turned 16 I gifted her a copy of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. This meant that out of necessity Bookfest each year became our first port of call. I became accustomed to my child dragging a suit case on wheels through the suburbs, on the train journey, and then weaving in and out of the aisles of the Brisbane Convention Centre.


This daughter never minded losing five or six hours searching for her beloved books, and has since developed the techniques and reputation of a “spotter”. My other daughter tended to search for reading material in sprints : a ten minute dash down the aisle, off to a cafe, another ten minute amble looking at books, oh, must be time to eat.

These days, I find sifting through over a million books hard work. Still exciting, but hard, so I have an Action Plan.

Firstly, I head to the Biography section where I continue to look for anything Errol Flynn, though usually with limited success.


Then it’s to the Military section where you tend to need to be more forceful and use your elbows with a bit more precision. That’s because there are some serious collector dudes who tend to hog this area. Not only do they hover, but they then tend to look at the books page by page, assessing a books value. If I wasn’t a pacifist I would advocate a good old fashioned hat pin. Despite the angst I tend to come away with a few treasures for myself and for friends with similar interests. The military s-i-l tends to score well.

Putting on a smiley face we brave the crowds and then search for novels to read on the daily train journey. Now that I’m browsing childless this is an easier task – no lists to work from. But this is when you find yourself taking defensive action from shopping trolleys, prams, suitcases, people with two book laden backpacks, straw baskets and 5,000 other bibliophiles.

Books tend to “speak” to me. Sounds bizarre, I know. I will slowly walk down half a dozen aisles, with no idea what I am looking for, and I will hear a whisper from somewhere on the tables saying “pick me, pick me”. Which I will do, twenty or thirty times.

By now, it’s about time to catch up with The Love Of My Life who will have been on the search for books with a Dragon on the front cover, anything reincarnation and past lives, CDs with music from the 70s (urggghhhh!), and half a dozen jigsaws.


If we do meet up before the cash registers we will head off together to the Australiana section for some poetry or bush writing, and which will also give me the opportunity to dump some of my finds with him ( to pay for…..hahaha. Who said I was stupid?)

Bookfest is one of those events that you return to, year in and year out. With no Entry Fee it is quite common to return for a second shot at the prize. Not only is it an adventure, but it is always great to come away with some treasures. I will forever remember my book obsessed daughter sitting on the carpet in her bedroom surrounded by the dozens of books she had purchased from Lifeline Bookfest, much like a Little Person at Christmas surveying all their gifts.

Makes having gone to work for the past fortnight worth the while.


Do you have anything like our Bookfest?

PS if you are interested to hear more about Lifeline Bookfest go here: