A Book Town Adventure

Today, I finally got to go along to and explore the annual Book Town event at Clunes, Victoria. A friend and I have been trying to get ourselves there for probably the last two or three years and we finally made it! After a brief detour where we got onto the wrong freeway and were actually heading towards the opposite direction, we found our way towards the sleepy town of Clunes for some book gorging. We just hoped it wouldn’t rain.

We finally arrived in Book Town after an almost two-hour drive and not without some anxiety that we would get lost. We arrived bright and early because we had to leave in the early afternoon to head back to the city. Friends couldn’t believe that I would actually get up so early on a Sunday, drive two-hours just to buy old books. As we made our way to the town centre we passed a little Shetland (at least I think it is) pony in somebody’s front yard!

Since we  were so early, people were still setting up. We were expecting more stalls but I guess the threat of rain pushed stallholders inside as a precaution.

What I found most impressive were these little sign holders decorated around the area. We wanted to snatch some and take them home with us but we resisted.

It’s a bit scandalous what they’ve done to the books but I suppose, at the very least, they’re being put to good use now and where people can admire them in a new light. From the moment we parked the car, we spent a solid four hours browsing through all the stalls that were there without getting tired or bored. We only stopped for lunch because we were famished and tired from our heavy packs. There were plenty of great stalls with a great selection but not as much literary fiction as I had expected. I did manage to pick up some great buys and bargains. It was lucky that we bought along backpacks to carry our purchases but they were very quickly weighed down. It was pretty funny seeing others in the morning also carrying empty backpacks around and then seeing them lugging it back to the car in the afternoon. There was a great atmosphere and it was quite fun to be surrounded by other bookish people who had travelled to Clunes for the sole purpose of pouring over books.

Here is my haul:

  • Iron in the Soul – Jean-Paul Sartre
  • The Marvellous Land of Oz – L. Frank Baum
  • The Rape of Venice – Dennis Wheatley
  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • Paddington Abroad – Michael Bond
  • Agatha Christie Crime Collection: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, They Do It with Mirrors, Mrs. McGinty’s Dead – Agatha Christie
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  • Thank You, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
  • Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  • The Wedding Group – Elizabeth Taylor
  • Full House – M.J. Farrell
  • The Chequer Board – Nevil Shute
  • No Highway – Nevil Shute
  • On the Beach – Nevil Shute

All were fantastic bargains. The last three Nevil Shute books were only $2 each so how could I resist? He is the author who wrote A Town Like Alice which is on my TBR pile. I was pretty excited to find some Virago in great condition. They were so clean and pristine. My most favourite finds were retro-ish editions of Western Front, Paddington and, of course, Land of Oz.

Some of the books are quite old and as much as I love brand new, pristine books I also love the history behind a old, well-loved book. I especially love those that ‘feel’ well thumbed through. Little markings like inscriptions, dates and even name plates adds that little something to the books.