How a Cheap Paperback Can Change Your Life

UQ Alumni Book Fair® Directory, 1993

The UQ Alumni Book Fair® is only weeks away (starting the 3rd of May) and there are so many reasons to come and check it out. The UQ Centre will become home to thousands of books of every kind, ready to be picked up on the cheap. It will be a weekend full of easy chances for bargains and interesting finds, with the proceeds going to support the University. And, if you’re very lucky, you might just find something that could change your life.

Books are really important to me. I’m an avid reader, I’m a Writing, Editing and Publishing student, and I’m an aspiring writer, so fiction holds a large place in my life. This wasn’t always the case. When I was younger, I went through an unfortunate phase where I stopped reading completely. From nine until fifteen years of age, I cut books out of my life. Reading, apparently, wasn’t cool. Luckily, a cheap paperback from a second-hand book fair changed that.

The World According to Garp, written by John Irving, was published in 1978. It splashed onto the global literary scene and Irving’s career took off. Among Garp’s readership in the early 80’s was my Mum and Dad. Garp is a great novel, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, it’s original, and it’s moving. And, back then, it resonated heavily with my newly-dating parents. That’s why my Mum bought a copy at a book fair in the early 2000s for just two dollars.

I don’t know what made me grab Garp from our family bookshelf one day and start reading. I have a strong feeling that it was the picture of a frog on the cover. I was fifteen and didn’t know anything about literature but I became totally absorbed. Absorbed by the story and absorbed by books in general. I’ve enjoyed over a decade of incredible stories, of bonding with friends over literature, and of writing – all sparked by my Mum picking up an old favourite at a book fair for a gold coin.

This is one of the reasons that I think book fairs are important. I hope to see people fill the UQ Centre on the weekend of the 3rd of May to see for themselves. Come along to The UQ Alumni Book Fair® for plenty of bargains and, if you’re lucky, a chance to have your very own Garp moment.

Tom Campbell

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