Picture this: a majestic, centuries-old hall completely lined with book stalls, brimming with every kind of literary piece imaginable, for you to pick and take home with you to treasure and enjoy.
That's what's going on right now at the Mediterranean Conference Centre and what I had the pleasure to visit last night.
Organised by the National Book Council, the National Book Festival has become something of a tradition for Maltese bibliophiles such as myself. With an impressive variety of books available, from dictionaries to sci-fi novels, vintage encylopaediae to alphabet charts, there is something for everyone here. In fact, it is quite the perfect place to start your Christmas shopping too!
The hall bustles with activity from end to end; children pore over their favourite books, whilst local authors sign books for their readers. Book Council members are also at hand, giving out friendly information to those lost in their world of books!
If you pay attention, you can find a cosy little stall nestled between the bigger, more brightly lit areas of the festival. In this tiny space, hundreds of old books are stacked on each other, arranged by topic and genre - from philosophy to history, science to religion. You can tell the owner genuinely loves books from his eyes - they light up when you strike a conversation with him about any book you love. You may even get lucky enough to get your very own glass of homemade wine!
Wine in hand and books in the other, I continued to wander around. Besides the stalls, the Council has organised an array of interesting discussions throughout the festival. There are no formalities - you can sit and enjoy a pleasant debate, or simply walk through the booths and enjoy the variety of books at hand.
If you haven't done so yet, I strongly recommend you go - on your own, with family or friends, it's simply an enjoyable trip. The Festival runs throughout the weekend until 10pm next Sunday, you can check out opening hours and events lined up here and here. Warning: your wallet will be much lighter afterwards.
Are you a fellow bibliophile? Are you, like me, still entranced by the charm of a good old book? Let me know in the comments below!