I'm a freelance writer living on Sydney's north shore. I like tea, books and pop music. If I can combine these into a single activity I'm a happy man.
Say no to boring presents and yes to unique books
Summer is just around the corner and with it comes visions of scantily clad bronzed beauties running in slow motion across the beach, happy families enjoying al fresco meals in the great outdoors and balmy evenings enjoying a ice cold beverage in your local beer garden (although granted that may turn very messy very quickly). What summer most definitely does not conjure up is that 'mmm I might snuggle up in bed with a good book' feeling. So why should you bother with the Balmain Christmas Book Fair this month? Well, firstly, if you're like me and don't fancy the next three months slowing roasting in the sun whilst picking sand out of every orifice it's the perfect time to stock up on your summer reads (which you can then enjoy in the cool, air conditioned comfort of inside). Secondly, it's the ideal place to grab a unique Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person or resident book addict every family has (I'm guessing). Thirdly, if you're a cheapskate it's the ideal place to grab a unique and cheap Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person or resident book addict every family has.
The Balmain Book & CD Fair is run by Sydney community radio station 2MBS with all the proceeds going to charity. The fairs are always fun and relaxed, without the manic overcrowding that occurs at some of the bigger book fairs in Sydney. Prices are good – expect to pay around $10 for hardbacks with most paperbacks around the $4 mark – and the subject matter is excellent. There is a wide range of fiction for both adults and children along with some fabulous antique books and a huge CD, DVD and record collection. Non-fiction subjects range from religion and philosophy to food and wine and those with children will be pleased to learn pop-up books will be present, although possibly not in the religion and philosophy section.
The highlights of this year's Christmas fair include:
Over 800 Art & Architecture books
Military History - over 500 specialised military history books.
Chess books - 200 books on Chess ($6 each)
Approximately 1000 Penguin books.
Huge range of newly donated classical & jazz CDs
If books just aren't your thing, don't despair as there's plenty to hold your interest with posters, artworks and sheet music a staple of the fairs – always handy if you are looking for something new to bash out on the pianoforte over Christmas.
The grand opening is on Thursday 22nd November from 6pm-10pm, when most of the best books are snatched up – and I use the word 'snatched' very literally. Be prepared to jostle and possibly draw swords. The fair is then held daily, much more sedately, from 9am-6pm until Sunday 2nd December.
You know it's time to start Christmas shopping, you know you want to finish it early this year – the Balmain Book Fair is a brilliant place to start. Not only will your gifts be the envy of all you meet, if you must spend all summer lazing on a beach, you may as well take a book with you…
The Balmain Christmas Book Fair is held at Balmain Town Hall, 370 Darling Street, Balmain, 2041. Entry is free. It opens 6pm-10pm on Friday 22nd November and runs daily 9am-5pm until Sunday 2nd December. There is limited, on street paid parking in surrounding streets. The nearest ferry terminals is Balmain West, a 15 minute walk away. There are limited services to and from Circular Quay on weekdays only. Services run between Circular Quay and Balmain East more regularly seven days a week. Balmain East is a 30 minute walk or a 5 minute trip on any of the buses that stop at the wharf. Buses from elsewhere in the city stop outside the Town Hall including the 433 and 442. There are no nearby train stations. Visit CityRail for more information.