“The Ultimate Book of Farting” is winner of the Failure of Nerve Award. The Award Committee found much to praise in the mechanism which produced a fart each time the book was opened.
So, why the outbreak of gaiety? Well, it’s because the annual Founders Book Fair always opens on the Saturday of Queen’s Birthday weekend. My J.Q. (Joy Quotient) always is always high at this time but it reached dangerously high levels when I discovered that Nelson Musical Theatre was staging a garage sale, right next to Founders on the very same day.
These two competing manifestations of Nirvana drove me to the brink of madness. I would have toppled over the edge, except for my responsibilities as chairperson of the Founder's Book Fair Awards Committee.
It is in this capacity that I would like to announce 2014 Award winners. Envelope please ...
Second prize goes to “A Guide to Divorce in New Zealand” which was sandwiched between “Walk!”, “Overload” and “Hard to Swallow”. Third prize goes to “What’s Right With Feminism” for its juxtaposition with “Not Guilty by Reason of Menopause”.
“The Ultimate Book of Farting” is winner of the Failure of Nerve Award. The Award Committee found much to praise in the mechanism which produced a fart each time the book was opened. However because the publishers chose not to integrate scratch and sniff technology, the Committee decided that the full offensive potential of the work was not fully realised.
The Most Tautological Book Title Award goes to a fitness guide called “Active Movement”. Readers with a preference for inactive movement, or exercise of a more cerebral kind, are referred to “Think Yourself Fit”. The Committee does caution that the woman on the book cover is wearing an awful lot of Lycra and this may indicate that some physical as well as mental exertion will be necessary.
“The Guide to Intuitive Communication with your Pet” is winner of the Antiques Roadshow Award. A Fox Terrier pup gazes soulfully from the front cover. The blurb on the back cover promises that the book will explain how to get your pet to “stay off the sofa, be careful with the good china and stop destroying the house while you’re out”. Antique lovers who want to keep the Wedgewood and the Spode in good nick will welcome this manual on telepathic communication with any domestic terrierist.
Ex New Zealand radio personality Alice Worsley, author of the self-help book “Always Keep the Lid on Your Blender” wins the Whatever Happened To? Award this year. Alice has reinvented herself as a celebrant of weddings and baby-namings. The Committee was pleased to note that Alice hasn’t lost her trademark cheeriness: click “Funerals” on her website and you get a lovely warm message: “Oops! This page is currently under development”.
The Most Disturbing Topic/Most Disturbed Author Award goes to “When Pigs Move In”. Its disquieting subtitle - “How to sweep clean the demonic influences impacting your life and the lives of others” - and the creepy cover design made it a shoo-in.
The Supreme Award this year goes not to a book, but to an architectural construct inspired by a book. Forming a focal point for the 2014 Book Fair is a shrine and altarpiece several metres high, built entirely of copies of “The Da Vinci Code”. The Award Committee congratulates whoever built it on their wit and technical accomplishment.
Intensive research is always part of the judging process and this year’s research revealed some interesting statistics: over 2,500 adults and countless children attended the first day of the 2014 Book Fair; upwards of 10,000 will have browsed through 30-40 tonnes of books by the Fair’s end. When we hear so often of the imminent demise of the book these figures are very heartening. Library patronage is pretty cheering too: Nelson Public Library hosts well over half a million visitors annually and issues nearly 900,000 physical items (books, magazines and DVDs) plus nearly 6000 books or audio books in digital form.
For additional background I read a book called “The Library Book” which is, appropriately enough available from the library. It’s an anthology of memoir, fiction and essays about libraries and their importance to individuals and society. Alan Bennett and Stephen Fry write movingly about how a library provided their childhood selves with a haven and opened undreamed-of worlds of possibility. Nowadays we take public libraries very much for granted. Seeing them through the eyes of a Library Services Manager from Worksop, England reminds us of how extraordinary a concept they actually are.
“If someone suggested the idea of public libraries now, they’d be considered insane” he says “… libraries are based on trust … if you said you were going to take a little bit of money from every taxpayer, buy a whole load of books and music and games, stick them on a shelf and tell everyone, “These are yours to borrow and all you have to do is bring them back’, they’d be laughed out of government.”
The book is dead! Long live the book!