Being a bookworm can be a solitary experience and sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house and try something new. As part of the Voices of 2015 #shareAustralia innovation, I’m sharing three Brisbane-based bookish activities that I love.
1. Lifeline Bookfest
Each year, a huge number of books are donated to Lifeline Shops. Instead of simply dumping or recycling what they can’t stock, Lifeline started organising second-hand book sales. Lifeline Bookfests appear all around Queensland, from Mackay to the Gold Coast.
The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane is home to two Lifeline Bookfests each year. In January and June, you can roam through the High Quality section (prices as marked), the $2.50 section, and the $1 section (where children’s books are available for only 50 cents). Bookfest is staffed by volunteers and entry to the event is free.
Lifeline Bookfest is the biggest second-hand book sale in the world. The WORLD. Take that, everywhere else! There are literally millions of books to choose from and you can spend hours restocking your personal library. All funds raised go to supporting Uniting Care Community and Lifeline’s community services. These services include a 24-hour Crisis Support Line, and a disaster recovery program.
When you’re heading to Bookfest, there are a few things you’ll need:
- A way to get there. Whether you’re driving or taking public transport, make sure you don’t have too far to walk! If you’re like me and you end up with a ridiculous amount of bargain books, you probably won’t want to haul them over long distances. Thankfully, the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre is located right near the Cultural Centre bus station and the South Brisbane train station.
- A comfy pair of shoes. Spending a lot of time on your feet while browsing the hundreds of tables can be tiring, so make sure you’re comfortable.
- A way to carry your books. Trolleys are available to hire for a $2 donation, but they can be difficult to manoeuvre through the aisles. Personally, I use a backpack because it helps distribute the weight of the books evenly. If you happen to forget yours, don’t worry; Lifeline has cute totes available for purchase.
- Hand gel. With so many people thumbing through the books, and a fair amount of dust, your hands can get a bit grimy. I’ve seen people wear gloves while browsing but I’m a bit more relaxed. I always have some hand gel in my bag so I just pull that out when I need it.
- Money. Entry to the event is free but you’ll need to pull out your wallet to buy your newfound treasures. You can pay by cash or EFTPOS. And if you’re buying for a classroom or library, you can even get a tax receipt.
Want to know when Bookfest is coming to your neck of the woods? Like Lifeline Bookfest on Facebook to receive updates about the events held throughout Queensland.
2. Brisbane Writers Festival
Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct will once again be home to the annual Brisbane Writers Festival. With both local and international authors from all genres attending, there’s something for everyone. An important part of BWF is Word Play, their special program for school-aged children. (This year, I’m super excited about the inclusion of Australian authors John Marsden and Emily Rodda, who helped shape my childhood.)
Book tours are common in America, Europe, and the UK, but Australia is a long flight away from most places. After receiving the 2014 program, I ended up organising a jam-packed weekend for myself and I LOVED it. I met some amazing authors, had some of my books signed for the first time in my life, and met some awesome Brisbane bookworms.
Love YA! was one of my favourite events last year. Celebrating all things young adult, this series of panels features various authors and it’s absolutely free. You can look forward to talking about ‘love, community and Shadowhunters’ (possibly with visiting author Cassandra Clare!) on Saturday, 5 September from 12-5pm at the Brisbane Square Library.
When packing for Brisbane Writers Festival, there are a few necessities:
- An itinerary. For me, this is the adult equivalent of choosing EKKA show bags. I print out the program, highlight what I want to attend, and then narrow it down until I have a schedule I’m happy with. If you’re planning for youngsters, you can check out the World Play program here.
- Brisbane Writers Festival membership. You don’t technically need to be a member of BWF but it does come with some great savings for the adult events.
- Writing material. You may be attending a panel, or a masterclass with an author. Either way, gems about writing processes, materials, and book recommendations are bandied around so quickly that you’ll want to take notes.
- Books. Don’t pass up an opportunity to get your favourite books signed! You can bring along your own beloved copies or you can purchase shiny new ones from the Library Shop on the day.
- A camera. Selfies between sessions, selfies with mates, selfies with authors. Bring a camera or make sure your phone’s charged so you don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Tickets for the Word Play program are available for purchase here. The general program for Brisbane Writers Festival will be released on 25 July, with the festival taking place from 2-6 September 2015.
3. Street Reads
Street Reads is a collection of real life ‘choose your own adventure’ stories set in Brisbane. Each year, you can be the hero in three different stories set in and around the CBD. You become the master of your fate as you decide which characters to trust and which path to follow.
The story is delivered to you on your phone or tablet. You can even choose whether to have the story narrated to you or read it on screen. The six stories currently available begin in Reddacliff Place, just outside the Brisbane Square Library. My favourite part about Street Reads is getting to see my city in a new light. Things I’ve walked past a hundred times are suddenly different and exciting, maybe home to mutant roaches or pirates or zombies. The only limit is your imagination.
Want to try Street Reads for yourself? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Technology. You will need Wi-Fi at some point. You can download the app and your chosen adventure before you leave home, or you can do it all on the go. I find it easier to use my smart phone for this, but an internet-enabled tablet will work just as well. If you want to listen to the audio, make sure to bring a set of headphones. It can be hard to hear the story over the everyday hustle and bustle but headphones will definitely help
- A Street Reads map. The great thing about Street Reads is that you can do it any time you want as long as you have the details. While Street Reads is getting a revamp this year (more on that later), this map with the QR codes comes in handy if you’re following the stories after the signs have been taken down.
- Comfortable shoes. The Street Reads stories don’t cover too much ground (perfect for younger participants) but you will be doing a bit of walking so make sure you’re prepared.
- Sunscreen. It’s Australia. It’s Queensland. (I’m a ranga so I’ve got the triple threat.) Lather up!
2013 and 2014 were an awesome treasure hunt for QR codes in Brisbane City. This year, Street Reads has seen an overhaul. Instead of scanning QR codes, you can download the Story City app by Emily Craven from Google Play or the App Store for free.
All six stories are currently available on the app. This year, Street Reads is taking to the suburbs with three new stories set in Dutton Park, Woolloongabba, and Sandgate available in September. You can even download the story content before you leave home so you’re not using up too much data on your phone!
I know Australia—and Brisbane in particular—can sometimes feel far removed from all fun and bookish things but that is NOT TRUE. You can go extreme book shopping at the biggest second-hand book sale event in the world, meet awesome local and international authors, and become a hero in your own city! Most of this is reasonably priced or free, which means you get to spend more money on books year-round and continue to grow your own personal library until it rivals the one in Beauty and the Beast.