My Neglected Bookshelves

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Old bookshelf © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Don’t look too closely, there’s plenty of dust on them thar bookshelves. These books have sentimental value but may be destined for the University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2021 at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane—
Link https://alumni.uq.edu.au/uq-alumni-book-fair

Here’s the first installment of my three-day visit in April 2019—
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

Old books or new ones, ebooks or audio, I wish you all good books!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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A corner of the UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019

Old Books – Timeless or Laughable?

It is time to attack my bookberg.  Book sorting!  Only another book lover will know this task is emotional, dusty work with frequent trips back and forth to the reject box to retrieve a volume you just can’t live without.

I did not factor in the impact of nostalgia.  As I sifted and culled, I was overwhelmed by the memories which came flooding back.

Relating to the photograph above, here’s a small sample of the tip of my bookberg:

  • Those aching muscles as I tried to emulate actress and fitness guru Jane Fonda using her inspiring 1981 ‘Workout Book’.  The less said about the front cover the better.

 

  • My 1986 major motion picture tie-in ‘Out Of Africa’ by Karen von Blixen was purchased after I saw the movie because I wanted to see how much the movie had altered the book.  Well, let’s just say it was movie mush.

 

  • ‘Finest Moments’ the hilarious 1975 antics of Norman Gunston (Australian TV comedian Garry McDonald) were clever but now make me cringe.  Gunston dared to go where no journo had gone before.  McDonald was a good scriptwriter but.

 

  • I tried and tried to read this 1984 paperback of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’.  Even now as I look at its yellowing pages (it cost me $4.50 back then) I don’t think I will ever read it.  Most of it has come true, right?

 

  • The small yet 383-page book ‘Angels & Fairies’ written 2005 by Iain Zaczek was a surprise.  A gift, seemingly unread, it contains works of art from famous British painters in 1800s Victorian era.  Such luminous illustrations, if ever there was a misnamed book, it’s this one!  Nothing cutesy about it.  A serious study for art aficionados.

 

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Need I say more? Heavy old coffee-table books, classic black and white photographs with depth and clarity, each one telling a story.

During re-reading and culling, three things struck me immediately.

  1. The smallness of the paperbacks.
  2. The density of the print.
  3. The amount of information.

I guess smaller books meant cheaper to print, easier to handle.
Because I now need reading glasses, the print looks tiny to me.
Does excessive screen time influence the way we read off screen?
We read less content, larger font and wider spaces today, because of what?

Several of my earlier paperbacks have bios, dedications, illo plates, notes, etc.
Or a pull-out page so you could fill in your details and mail to the publisher to receive the author’s complete booklist.

Fortunately the only thing which hasn’t changed is real bookshops.
They may be fewer in certain countries but they are alive and well where I live.

Getting back to those rejected books, I have cardboard boxes (ah, that smell of cardboard) to pack them in and send off to University of Queensland for their Book Fair.

I was mightily impressed with UQ book wrangling skills, particularly after I visited their Book Auction and saw frantic bidders making the value of old books rise higher and higher until the final bid, the hammer fall, the cry of delight from the successful bidder.

Blogging Image 04My three-part series of UQ Book Fair visits last year—brilliant photos—

PART ONE
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

PART TWO
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/

PART THREE
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/

This post is pure procrastination.  But look at this book on Rome, I was a little bit in love with the professor…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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ROME OF THE CAESARS by Leonardo B. Dal Maso, Professor of Archaeology and Ancient History, Roma. An autographed copy September 1983. Bonechi-Edizioni ‘Ill Turismo’ Via dei Rustici, 5-50122 Firenze. FRONT COVER shows reconstruction model of the centre of Rome in the age of Constantine by architect Italo Gismondi. GOLDEN COIN was issued by Emperor Hadrianus. WAX STATUE personal collection.

Book Perfect – Virago

Virago is an international publisher of books by women for all readers, everywhere.  Established in 1973, their mission has been to champion women’s voices and bring them to the widest possible readership around the world.  They found me!  From fiction and politics to history and classic children’s stories, their writers continue to win acclaim, break new ground and enrich the lives of readers.  That’s me!  Read on…

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My Goodreads Book Review

Superb anthology of the last forty years of Virago Modern Classics with a gorgeous bookcover illustration. Great for readers who appreciate women writers and also for students studying literature. Each contemporary author writes a sincere and thoughtful introduction from their own perspective as a reader. They cover the classics, from fiction and comedy to famous diaries and autobiographies. For example, Margaret Drabble discusses Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and further on Jilly Cooper talks about E. M. Delafield ‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’. Although I’ve not read ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith, I think Claire Messud has convinced me to read it. At the end of Amanda Craig’s introduction on Rebecca West ‘The Fountain Overflows’ she says ‘The novel is one of those rare books that leaves the reader feeling happier and more hopeful than before.” And that’s exactly what this Virago Modern Classics makes me feel https://www.goodreads.com/gretchenbernetward

Virago Publisher of Women Writers

Virago celebrated their fortieth anniversary of Virago Modern Classics, Virago Press published the book I so eagerly purchased ‘Writers as Readers’, an anthology of forty introductions from the last four decades…books that deserve once again to be read and loved.  Virago also reintroduced the iconic green spines across their whole booklist.

Virago has a huge booklist, I’m sure you’ve read several of their titles, and rather than me listing every book available, you can visit their beautiful website:
https://www.virago.co.uk/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Fear of Joining Goodreads

Yes, fear that I will become addicted.  Fear that I will push myself to read a gazillion books a year so I can frantically, faithfully rate and review them.  Fear that I will get hooked on groups, authors, discussions, surveys and polls—or even worse, a bestseller—and thus lose my individuality.

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What if I was swamped by a wave of literary-ness which swept away my identity and I became a book character, never able to reach the shores of reality,  adrift in a choppy sea of font and words, desperately swimming towards the final chapter so I could beach myself on that last blessed page?

It didn’t happen.

I know this because I have finally joined the ranks of Goodreads readers.

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Why did I join?  Because I was caught, hook, line and sinker by a single author and her book ‘The Rose and The Thorn’.

In August 2019, I posted my very first Goodreads review on Indrani Ganguly’s historical novel (also here on my blog) and the Hallelujah choir sang.  That was it!

I think I shelved about twenty books in one hit.  Then about thirty, then more, and before I knew it I was writing reviews; albeit after I sussed out their (ssshh, whisper here) rather archaic system.

Without fear, without favour!  I am part of Goodreads for better or worse!

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So far I have followed a couple of authors I enjoy, and a couple of groups which seem relevant to my reading tastes.  I encompass miscellany, similar to my blog, so I am open to your book reading suggestions.

Take a peek, you may find the same book we both have read . . . but will our rating or review be the same?

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101014600-gretchen-bernet-ward

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART THREE

On your marks, get set…

The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2019 at St Lucia, Brisbane, had been in full swing for a couple of days before I arrived on the third day.  One more day to go with no sign of running out of keen customers or brilliant book bargains.

The Exhibition Hall is huge!

The whole area was filled with tables covered in books of every shape, size, colour and genre.  I couldn’t name every section without going cross-eyed but there were technical books, reference books, fiction, non-fiction, and fun stuff like mixed media (including old vinyl records) and cool kids books.

I could say romance novels jostled for position with items such as travel guides and political biographies but everything was grouped in an orderly manner, well marked and easy to access.  I was surprised to see numerous large old dictionaries for sale, however, the eclectic poetry section caught my eye.  Ooh, Bruce Dawe.

Total absorption

The whole area was spacious, clean and civilised.  I expected a few gasps or cries of joy when The One, that perfect addition to a series or a special edition was found and held aloft.  But no, basically the customers had their own agendas and moved calmly from book table to book table with carry bags, totally absorbed.  By my estimation, I think you could expect to spend about two hours scanning and sifting through the books, more if you wanted to read pages here and there.

Stacks of boxes

In the first photo (above) in the distance you can see a stack of book boxes, then in the second photo you see the book boxes up close.  That opened box was about head-height and a volunteer told me those boxes had stretched along the walls, and every day they were emptied.  Volunteers in purple t-shirts worked tirelessly the whole time I was there, unpacking, shelving, answering queries, and working at the payment points.

Afternoon tea

In the adjacent cafeteria (delicious homemade strawberry cake) I displayed some of the haul.  You will spy a small red book in the left-hand photo which I have opened in the right-hand photo.  The dust-jacket is missing and the previous owner had not liked naughty boy Pierre and scribbled on him in pencil but I love it.  After a bit of searching, I found out this little Maurice Sendak volume is one of four, a Nutshell Library boxed set published in 1962 by HarperCollins.

Time to go

On display in the foyer of the Exhibition Hall were enlarged travel images and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the duck and ducklings.  Overall, the synchronicity of UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers created an exceptional event.

Walking back to the bus stop, weighed down with my treasure, the water bubbling through the pipes of this fountain made a relaxing sound so I stopped to admire it.

As I stood there, I thought about the massive amount of books on every subject imaginable which showed how far we have come, and how much of value we have left behind.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


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My previous posts:

Part One
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/
Part Two
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART TWO

What a blast!

On arrival, drinks and nibbles were a nice surprise after travelling by bus along winding streets to UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction.  From then onward it was non-stop action from 6pm until 9pm in Fryer Library.

Twilight sky

Beforehand, I walked not the ‘hallowed halls’ but the beautiful arched sandstone walkways of the Great Court to the Fryer Library entrance.  I caught the lift to the fourth floor where several people were mingling in the foyer beside the bidding registration table.  On receiving Number 30, I hoped it was a lucky number.

Lucky number 30

I wandered in to the library, strolled through all the assembled black chairs, and entered the book viewing area.  Lighting was subdued but it was easy to see the fascinating array of old books waiting patiently for my frenzied bidding.  Not quite frenzied; but to jump ahead, I did offer a bid for a beautiful book, at least I think it is, which started and finished at the same amount, i.e. nobody out-bid me.  Shame really because Smith, A. Croxton ‘Tail-Waggers’ Country Life, London, 1935, 147 pp has superbly rendered B&W mounted etchings by Malcolm Nicholson.

Lights, camera, action

After ascertaining if I could take photos, permission granted, I ended up being so entranced by the bidding that I didn’t take many shots.  The introductions, welcome and Acknowledgement of Country were conducted (first by university librarian Caroline Williams originally from Nottingham UK) and at 6.45pm, auctioneer Jonathan Blocksidge stood behind the lectern.  Game on!

Quickly, keep up

The bidding was fast and Mr Blocksidge kept the pace up, the heat on and the bids rising.  There seemed to be some pretty serious collectors and possibly agents in the audience and at times the bids rose in increments so rapidly it was hard to keep track.

The highest bidder

There were absentee bidders and Lot 27 rose above the reserve price.  As the night progressed – 146 lots were listed – bidding ‘wars’ occurred, particularly between two people behind me.  The jousting for Lot 62, first edition of ‘Human Action: A Treatise on Economics’ made the audience applaud in appreciation.  Same for Lot 66 ‘The Natural History of Man’ and Lot 86 James Cook’s ‘A Voyage Towards the South Pole’ which later culminated in Lot 105 Charles Kingsford-Smith’s personally signed copy of ‘Story of Southern Cross’ going for a huge amount.

Regrettably, the star of the show and expected highlight of the evening Lot 146 Gauss (de Brunswick) book ‘Recherches Arithmetiques’ did not meet the hefty reserve price.

Until tomorrow

The UQ team of staff and volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the evening, quiet yet ready to assist, and I think they did an excellent job.  In fact, I have been reliably informed that all of the auction organisers I had contact with are UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers.  They were supported by the Fryer Library team (led by Manager, Simon Farley) who organised the chairs, allowed use of the library space, and provided the hospitality pre-event.  A success well deserved!

I purchased and collected my precious old book of ‘Tail-Waggers’ and headed out into the cool, calm night.

Stick around for Part Three coming soon, my adventure with books, books and more books.  Or better still, visit the UQ Alumni Book Fair yourself!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Check out my previous post Part One
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/
and my final post Part Three
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/

 

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART ONE

So excited, I’ve never been to a rare book auction.  In fact, I have never been to an auction.  It’s not something which cropped up in my everyday life and I must admit from what I’ve seen on television, it can get pretty fast and furious.

There’s always the horror of twitching an eyebrow and accidentally bidding for a hugely expensive volume of poetry, the only book of its kind in the world, which has to stay in a glass case.  Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.

MY COMMENTARY INTERSPERSED WITH IMAGES

The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair and Rare Book Auction will be held at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, over four days on the weekend of Friday 3 May to Monday 6 May 2019 – Monday being Labour Day holiday in Queensland – see UQ website for various times.

HOW DID I FIND OUT ABOUT THIS RARE BOOK AUCTION?

Last month, I attended a talk at University of Queensland’s Long Pocket Campus, home of the University of Queensland Press, or UQP as it is fondly known, the oldest independent publishing house in Australia with an illustrious stable of authors.  I browsed some of the newly published books on offer, grabbed a coffee and sat with other attendees to absorb an informative talk from the Publishing Director, right down to choosing bookcovers.

We broke for a tasty lunch then listened to the ins-and-outs of publishing publicity, Selling The Brand.  Another world really but invaluable knowledge for a writer.  Our group participated in a Q&A quiz about books and authors.  I threw up my hand and answered correctly, winning myself a new novel ‘The Geography of Friendship’ by Sally Piper which I will read and review.

DOWN A HILL AND UP A HILL . . .

Afterwards, we all trooped outside, down a hill and up a hill through the lush native gardens to where the Archives live.  Amongst the thousands of new and used books donated every year, there are rare and valuable tomes, well-kept considering their age.  On the shelving, behold every genre, every topic, every format imaginable.  And nearly every item in the Junior Section held nostalgia for me.  It is here I learned about the UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction 6pm on Friday 3 May 2019.

BROWSE AND BUY – TAKE A TROLLEY – BOOK VOLUNTEERS WELCOME

I will have to leave you hanging, dear reader, because I will write Part Two when I’ve actually been to the Rare Book Auction in Fryer Library which itself is full of literary treasures.  See you there?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Here is MORE tantalising information:
http://books.alumnifriendsuq.com/rare-book-auction/
and http://books.alumnifriendsuq.com/charles-kingsford-smith-at-the-the-uq-alumni-book-fair-and-rare-book-auction/

Plus BONUS extras so you can jump ahead:
Part Two
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/
Part Three https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/


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UQ Duhig Tower Forgan Smith Fryer Library
UQ Forgan Smith Building, Duhig Tower to Fryer Library