Canberra LIfeline’s bookfairs just keep on getting bigger and better. Since 1973, some 68 Bookfairs over 42 years, have raised more than $9,000,000 for Lifeline, the funds providing much-needed crisis support services for both local and regional communities.
In the 8 years that I have volunteered for Lifeline, nearly every bookfair has sold more books, and raised more money, than the preceding one. And so it was this time, as a new record of $553,000 was set, and an estimated 125,000 books were sold. Many of these books will be read and then donated back to Lifeline, to be sold again, and again, and …
With all these inexpensive, second-hand books on offer, there wasn’t much interest in the new book ‘area’, which comprised myself and a young woman (Helen) selling her fantasy novel. If you had to choose between buying one mid-range new book from a novice author, or 10 good pre-loved reads from some of the best scribes around, you’d do the latter and that’s what people did. Helen and I only sold a few books, though one good outcome was doing radio interviews with Mark MacCreadie, a 2CA presenter who gave us a good hearing.
It’s not all bad news as the niche marketing is starting to gain traction. The National Parks Association of Qld ran a ‘Must Read’ article in their recent newsletter, and is publishing Ian Fraser’s review in their quarterly magazine, Protected, next month, both important promos for their readership of around 3,000.
Now that ‘Safari’ is published – hooray! – I have time to enjoy my own reading. I rarely read fiction, and most of the non-fiction I read is related to my two main interests: the environment and travel. And there’s plenty around just now; both Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson – my favourite authors – have new books out, but I chose to read another favourite, David Attenborough’s Life on Air (the revised 2010 edition).
And what a great read it is. In 1952, Attenborough joins Auntie (the BBC) in Chapter 1 and we spend the next 28 chapters seeing the world through his eyes and his eloquent writing. It is absorbing, adventurous and funny, but set against a background, especially in the latter chapters, that the world’s wildlife is imperilled – and who would know better than him.
I am now, finally, reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which along with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, is regarded as being one of the best-ever nature books. These 2 books, together with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, are widely considered to be the three most influential nature books ever written.
But you can’t read Leopold quickly; every word is purposefully chosen, every carefully crafted sentence is intense, and in need of contemplation and reflection – and sometimes re-reading – before moving on to the next. He gives so much detail and personal insight that my brain wearies and I feel ‘flooded’.
However, my main feeling is one of admiration for Leopold’s clever wordsmithing; I’m looking forward to tonight’s read.
Happy travelling – and reading!
PS The pic shows some nice reflections in Barramundie Creek, in Kakadu National Park.