Bookarama retrospective

May 22, 2016

Preparing for and working at Rotary’s Bookarama has occupied me for the best part of  the past week.

People-watchers would find the buyers interesting. Dealers line up at the door before opening morning and run to the tables, others take a more leisurely approach. Some come once, some make return visits. Some are looking for particular titles or authors, others are less prescriptive. Some seek advice or want to chat, others are happy to browse and buy by themselves.

Quite a few buy bag loads of books, many of which they will donate back next year for re-sale, some buy in singles or small numbers.

A few unusual books are individually priced, few for more than $10 and those published recently are also priced – $2 for those from 2011 and 12; $4 for 2013 and 14 and $6 for the last two years. Children’s books are sold at two for $1, Mills and Boons go for $10 a box and all other books are just $1 each.

When it comes to paying, some forgo generous amounts of change while others accept small amounts back. That should not be seen to be judging anyone. Someone’s $9 change from a $20 note for 10 books might not be as important as another’s $1 from a $20 note for 19 books.

In the last few years we’ve found no interest in encyclopedias, atlases or dictionaries and hard back fiction isn’t as popular as paperbacks.

Today we’ll be cleaning up. Left over children’s books will go to the food bank, any good quality books left will be packed up for next year, some of the old books might be offered to dealers and the rest will go to the resource recovery centre for sale or recycling.

This is the club’s biggest annual fundraiser and all proceeds go to the community.

It depends on the generosity of people who donate books, those who buy them and others, not all of whom are Rotary members, who sort and sell them. It’s hard work but also both enjoyable and rewarding.




366 days of gratitude

April 30, 2016

One person’s good read won’t always appeal to another but sometimes it does.

Today I’m grateful for the recommendations of friends whose idea of a good read corresponds with mine.

366 days of gratitude

March 30, 2016

I wasn’t going to buy any more books until I’d finished all the ones on the to-be-read pile.

But life is too short to by-pass the possibility of a good read even if I’m going to have to wait to read it.

Today I’m grateful for something to add to my to-be-read pile and the feeling of security that comes with it from knowing I’m more than enough books away from having nothing new to read.

366 days of gratitude

March 22, 2016

A neighbour was disposing of books and invited me to take any that interested me before they went.

One of those I picked was The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith.

It made me laugh out loud the first time I read it and I find it just as amusing when I re-read it.

Today I’m grateful for this and other books which make me laugh.

366 days of gratitude

March 16, 2016

When we were in San Francisco several years ago we stumbled on a book store on our way back to our hotel after dinner.

It had three floors of stock, comfortable leather chairs, a cafe and loos. I wondered if I’d died and gone to heaven.

I don’t remember it’s name but I still have the collection of Erma Bombeck books I bought there.

That was before the days of internet shopping and while I do use Fishpond, and find it very good for sourcing books no longer available in shops, I still prefer to buy from a shop.

My favourite bookshop closer to home is the University Bookshop in Dunedin and I can always rely on my local Paper Plus in Oamaru to give good service.

Today I’m grateful for bookshops.

Umberto Eco: 5.1.32 – 19.2.16

February 22, 2016

Italian author Umberto Eco has died:

Eco, who was perhaps best known for his 1980 work the Name of the Rose, was one of the world’s most revered literary names…

He was the 1992-3 Norton professor at Harvard and taught semiotics at Bologna University and once suggested that writing novels was a mere part-time occupation, saying: “I am a philosopher; I write novels only on the weekends.”

The Name of the Rose was Eco’s first novel but he had been publishing works for more than 20 years beforehand.

He discussed his approach to writing in an interview at a Guardian Live event in London last year. “I don’t know what the reader expects,” he said. “I think that Barbara Cartland writes what the readers expect. I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them … to produce the kind of reader you want for each story.” . . 

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Read prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.

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I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.


366 days of gratitude

January 27, 2016

Once I started a book I used to keep going.

Now if I can’t get into it I give up, preferring to spend precious reading time on something I enjoy.

That said some books are read-once and forget, others go into the favourite category to be read and re-read.

At this time of year I always re-read some of my very favourite books and today I’m grateful to the authors whose work gives enduring pleasure.


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