Oh, it contained the bright white pages and colourful spines that denote a book published in the last decade or so. Scholastic with it's bright red icon, page edges crisp and glowing in white. But also it contained volumes I've never seen or read, or only seen when I was younger and not thought of since. Spines faded from years in the sun, pages browned with age and reading. Copyright dates in the 40s, reprinted in the 60s, covers of dark green and simple drawings. Books akin to those I last saw on my school library shelves in the 80s and early 90s.
Simple stories, where all comes right inn the end, however badly they go in the beginning. Bullies getting their comeuppance, though not through revenge. And I pulled title after title from the rows of books on the table, and since then I've dived straight into some of these stories, as if I've always read them. Some are comfort books for me, memories of lazy hazy days of summer, when my world seemed to be brighter than it is now. School days when I borrowed a book every day at lunch time, and returned it the next lunchtime. Refreshing as sunshine and birdsong and spring blossom at the tail end of winter.
So, on Sunday night, I read a book until midnight. It wasn't the latest thriller, or gilt covered bestseller, or the latest instalment in a favourite author's repetoire. It wasn't a mystery I needed to solve, or a space battle needing winning, or full of the thrill of the chase. No, I couldn't put it down becausse it was a book of childhood - one that tugs at sweeter heartstrings than those of sorrow or loss, than those that bring me to tears. A tale of friends and dreams and childhood and gifts with no repayment sought, and luck and a thrift our world doesn't seem to like to remember.
I don't think the particular title or author matters here.
Suffice to say, I'm glad I went to the book fair, and sad I hadn't before. And next year, if at all possible, I'll be there. Trawlling through the volumes that marked my childhood.