AT THE Georgetown Reading and Research Centre’s Book Fair that ended yesterday at the National Gymnasium, the best-selling books straddle a curious divide.
“Our most popular books,” GRRC Director Mr. Rupert Hopkinson told the Sunday Chronicle, “are religious books, books about spirituality; and, you know, books about sex. Self-improvement books are doing fairly well too. Of course we have other categories.”
Those other categories fill the gymnasium, set up on about two dozen or more stand alone tables; about as many tables linked along the sides of the display area; and in boxes beyond the borders of tables. Some soft music drifts down from speakers high on the wall. All told, according to the GRRC Director, there are about 100,000 titles on display at the fair. Welcome to Booktopia 2006.
The Sunday Chronicle asked Hopkinson whether his claim of 100,000 titles was accurate or whether he meant 100,000 books, including multiple copies of several books. He meant titles.
“We rarely stock more than one copies of the same title so almost every book you see is the only copy,” he said.
According to Hopkinson – who started up his library/bookstore several years ago – the main aim of the book fair was to help in promoting literacy in Guyana. He has his own Millennium Development Goal of sorts, an ambitious plan is to put 600,000 books into Guyanese communities by the year 2010. These titles will be geared primarily for children, teenagers and young adults.
“A country that is literate,” said Hopkinson, “is a country that develops and progresses; a country where the people are happy.”
To this end, he stated that he plans to host a Guyana Book Fair three times yearly. The next one is scheduled for mid-year although he isn’t quite sure of a venue as yet. It is either back at the gymnasium or at the GRRC building on Waterloo Street.
When the Sunday Chronicle visited the book fair last week, we found that his plan to promote reading seemed to be working in a way. As two young women hovered around the displays, three young men stood and sat next to one bookshelf, engrossed in reading. A closer look at the shelf revealed the sign `Sexuality’; a closer look at the titles they held revealed `The Kama Sutra’ and `The Joys of Sex.’
According to Hopkinson, people usually visit primarily in the afternoons and on weekends. One major attraction seems to be the price. In the $100-a-book section can be found some of the best books ever written, all paperbacks. And there are others under a thousand dollars that could fit any collection.
For this reporter, the most interesting title, however, was one by Benjamin Hoff called the `Te of Piglet’, a companion reader to the `Tao of Piglet’. Who ever knew that Zen mysticism could exist in the Hundred Acre Wood?