Buying second hand books from a charity is a fabulous thing to do – it ensures that the materials which went into making the books are being reused, its cheaper than buying new books and all the profits go towards helping other people. However I've generally been frustrated by the poorly organisied, random hodge podge of books available in your average charity shop, so I was very excited to discover Brotherhood Books.
Brotherhood Books is a fantastic social enterprise initiative from Australian Charity Brotherhood of St. Laurence. They've decided to sell tonnes (45 tonnes in fact) of donated books via a web portal that delivers all over the world. Most of the books are only a few dollars each making them a bargain. This article recommends some of authors whose books reliably fall into the category of a Good, Weekend Read and provides a link to their novels that Brotherhood Books has in stock (of course the stock is always changing, so if they are sold out of books, try another author, or wait a few weeks and try your luck again!)
A popular choice for many weekend reads is a good, detective mystery. Brotherhood Books is choc-a-bloc with books from canonical mystery writers such as P. D. James and Lynda La Plante. When checking these out, don't forget the woman who started it all Agatha Christie. With an incredible 80 novels to her name, there's sure to be one you've not yet read.
If you like a bit of a thrill, but would rather not spend your weekend reading about murder mysteries, then why not catch up on Sir A. Conan Doyle's perennial gift to the world: Sherlocke Holmes. If you've not read them, you don't know what you're missing out on.
If you've read all the Sherlock Holmes books, perhaps you would prefer to read a novel from former head of MI5, Stella Rimington? Rimington's novels draw upon her experience as a woman in the predominantly male espionage world. They follow the career of Liz Carlyle – a young, upwardly mobile spy. Whilst the novels do follow one another in chronological order, each book is a self-contained, utterly absorbing read.
Alternatively, you may like to read a John Grisham or his earlier, English counter-part Jeffery Archer. Both authors' books can be relied upon to deliver an enjoyable, but not too challenging read.
If you want something slightly more challenging, but equally as thrilling, what about a Robert Harris novel? Harris' novels are thrillers based during well known, historical moments in time such a WW2 London, or Pompei just before the Mt. Vesuvius made the town famous for all the wrong reasons.
If historical fiction appeals, then surely you cannot go past Sarah Waters whose books, based in London, at different times throughout history are peopled with characters that will live in your memory well after you've finished her books.
Perhaps an Australian novel – given you are buying from an Australian portal? What about a Tim Winton novel? Reading his book "The Riders" will ensure you're never short of a conversation starter. Everyone who reads it has a different take on the ending. If you've caught up on your Tim Winton, what about Nevil Shute - the prolific author of several "quintessential" Australian stories published in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Unfortunately Shute's work hasn't stood the test of time the way that Agatha Christie's or Sir A. Conan Doyle's: the racist and sexist undertones that haunt the pages of "A Town Like Alice" will make the modern day reader cringe. However, overall they are still good yarns that will not tax your little, grey cells too much. Moreover, even though an easy and enjoyable page-turner, it has been argued that Shute's "On The Beach" is Australia's most important novel – EVER! – so surely that makes it worth a read? (By the way: Gideon Haigh's article in The Monthly in 2007 made this proposition about "On The Beach" because due the wide readership it had among US politicians at the time it was published).
If thrillers and mystery all sound a bit much, then what about reading an Alexander McCall SmithHis gentle and endearing prose will keep you turning the pages without raising your heat beat. If you enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's Number 1 Lady Detective, then Giovanni Guareschi's character Don Camillio is sure to appeal to you as well.
Similarly Anne Tyler's books will amaze with their ability to make ordinary characters and events quite extraordinary.
Finally, there's always Maeve Binchy and Marion Keyes. Firmly ensconced in the "Chic Lit" genre, these books will deliver a read as enjoyable and unchallenging as a Lemonade Icy Pole on a summer's day.
So instead of forking out $20 on a last minute purchase at the local books store or at the airport, why not stock up on some Great Weekend Reads from Brotherhood Books? While you're there, grab a few books as presents for friends and family – everyone loves a good book – especially when they know the proceeds go towards helping those less fortunate get closer to their own happy ending.