I went along to the ‘world’s biggest’ something…and it was amazing. 4



View Profile

It’s not often one attends the ‘world’s biggest’ anything, but I have. Just recently, I went to the Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane, which is, according its website: ‘the largest second-hand book sale event in the world and an experience not to be missed’. Both statements are true.

I talked my husband into going with me as he hadn’t been for a few years – he bought one book and a half dozen DVDs. I won’t say how many books I ended up with!

We had a choice of three sections: High Quality, $2.50 and $1.00. The latter was absolutely packed and I saw more than a few hired trolleys filled to the brim. It’s a wonderful outing for the reading family, mum and dad taking turns to shepherd the kids while the other does a quick recce alone.

When you consider the range of genres available, this is a feast for everyone. The Bookfest website lists the different sections: Children’s, Australiana, History, Reference, Humour and Oddities, Biography, Literature and Classics, Textbooks, Travel, Health, Science Fiction, Hardback Fiction, Art and Music, Paperback Fiction, Cooking, Computers, Religion, Foreign Language, Vehicles and War Craft, Hobbies, Sport, Gardening, Animals, Penguins and Pelicans, Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, and Science. Penguins and Pelicans – really!

Plus table after table after table of magazines, stationery, videos, CDs, cassettes and records.

Many a uni student finds just the thing for the year ahead. What I love about it is that you can be super lucky and pick up a book you’ve been idly wanting for years. And many times you find a book that’s just perfect for you, and you didn’t know you’d want it until you rescue it from the massive pile. You have a quick flip-through, and it’s the book you just have to have.

The website tells us that since its humble beginning in 1989 in an old warehouse in Bowen Hills, the Lifeline Bookfest has grown in size and popularity, with some customers travelling interstate for the event.

For almost 20 years, the Bookfest has been in Brisbane’s Convention & Exhibition Centre where it’s ‘a sight to behold with two great halls lined up with millions of books on over four kilometres of tables’.

The treasure I found was a book I’d normally not consider, on the topic of walking, of all things. An unusual design for the title attracted me and I just picked it up on a whim. The Lost Art of Walking, by Geoff Nicholson, an inveterate walker. The books begins with him falling, inexplicably, while merely walking. He broke his arm in three places. Recovering, it hurt like mad when he walked, as did other parts of his body as they adjusted to the weight of the cast. So he stopped walking and started writing this book.

I didn’t know I would enjoy a book about such a mundane activity as walking, but it’s wonderful. Thanks, Bookfest.

I can’t wait until June for the year’s second Bookfest. I expect to have my current selections finished and returned to Lifeline for other discerning readers to find!

Do you love second-hand book sales? Would you agree we tactile humans will always love a real book, in spite of ebooks and kindles and iPads?

If you’d like to write a blog for Starts at 60 – we’d love to hear your stories! See our guidelines here and submit your articles to us here.

Fran Goodey

Frances Goodey is the mother of four daughters and the grandmother of two primary school age boys. With six brothers and two sisters, she was raised in Sydney and later lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Brisbane. She is an avid reader and has had some small success with children's stories being published in New Zealand and Australia. Both she and her husband are retired, and her daughters live in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Sydney and Frankfurt.

  1. Brisbane Expo 1988. Where queueing up became an art form. I shook hands with a happy little robot trundling round in the Japanese pavilion. The grip was firm but not tight. I couldn’t remove my hand till the robot (and whomever was controlling it) let me. The robot asked me which display I enjoyed most. Of course I said the Japanese one and the robot let go my hand and did a happy dance. I still smile when I think of it. I still drool thinking of the spring rolls in the Philippine section. We kept going back and buying more.

  2. I have volunteered at a few of these Bookfests and love the experience. Love being able to pick up inexpensive books, wrap and music.
    Experienced buyers wheel in small suitcases or trolleys! As I packed books on the tables, I used to idly note what titles kept cropping up i.e. what had people bought and decided to give away? As a matter of trivia, “50 Shades of Grey” was last year’s front runner but hardly anyone purchased the secondhand copies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *