Listen up, bookworms! Book Week Scotland, a weeklong celebration of everything literary, is running between 21 November and 27 November. Both citywide and nationwide, the festival is packed to the brim with events numbering well into the hundreds. Here is a condensed list of the top 10 unmissable events taking place in Edinburgh.
1. Scotland: Mapping the Islands (Free, ticketed) at 18:00 on Monday 21 November at The National Library of Scotland
The Library’s very own Senior Maps Curator, Chris Fleet, has partnered with Geographer Royal, Charles Withers, and Margaret Wilkes of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Their collectively written book details both the history and geography of the cartography of the many Scottish islands that shape Scotland’s iconic coastline. As well as a discussion with the authors, a book signing will be held afterwards.
2. The Shared Passions of Best-sellers: Mark Greenaway and Ian Rankin (Free, ticketed) at 18:30 on Monday 21 November at The Ghilie Dhu
Two heavyweights of Scottish literature – one of a longrunning, internationally successful crime fiction series, the other of a well-received cookbook – come together for our enjoyment. Unsurprisingly, crime novels and foodie talk are on the menu for discussion. But if Rankin’s superb talk at the Lyceum Theatre earlier this month is anything to go by, audiences can expect an evening of wildly varying conversation, from the inspiring to the self-deprecatingly hilarious.
3. Silent Audio-book Disco (Free, un-ticketed) on 18:00 Monday 21 November at Strumpets, William Street
Have you ever been listening to an audiobook in public and had the almost uncontrollable urge to turn those beautifully poetic words coming through your headphones into interpretive dance? Control your urges no longer! Strumpets Café are offering you the chance, amidst a group of strangers, to do just that. Turn up early to get your space, crank up the old iBooks app, and get dancing!
4. Dead Queens and Sweary Ladies: Lisa McInerney and Jenni Fagan (Free, ticketed) at 18:30 on Tuesday 22 November at The Ghillie Dhu
Lisa McInerney, of Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction fame, and Sunday Herald Scottish Author of the Year (and former UoE alumnus!), Jenni Fagan, are partnering up for a chat about life, literature and everything under the sun. Despite being self-styled ‘sweary ladies’, their works have found resounding success in literary circles; expect highbrow and low in this discussion.
5. Night Shadows (Free, ticketed) at 18:00 on Thursday 24 November at The National Library of Scotland
With the Gothic tradition continuing to fascinate contemporary audiences, Night Shadows offers its guests a series of readings, Gothic-inspired music and spoken word, creating an evening of unprecedented eeriness. Inspirations stem from scary Scots James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson. Helen Clark takes charge of the music, and David Campbell directs the oratory side of the event. Dare you journey into the dark belly of the National Library to experience this chilling event?
6. Black Widow (Free, ticketed) at 18:30 on Thursday 24 November at The Currie Library
Meet ‘Tartan Noir’ author Chris Brookmyre, who debuted with Quite Ugly One Morning 20 years ago and has refused to slow his publishing pace since. His most recent work, Black Widow, won the McIlvanney Prize.
7. Magic Lantern Storytelling (Free, un-ticketed) at 15:00 and 16:00 on Friday 25 November at The Museum of Childhood
Do not let the creepy dolls collection put you off attending this event. Storyteller Ailie Finlay brings fantastical tales to life, accompanied by a genuine Victorian lantern show. Families and big kids are welcome!
8. Sir Tony Robinson: No Cunning Plan (Free, ticketed) at 18:30 on Friday 25 November at Waterstones Edinburgh, Princes Street
Sir Tony Robinson, aka Baldrick, aka that one from Blackadder, introduces his new biography, No Cunning Plan. From the original Oliver! musical as a 12-year-old, to various roles in the many Terry Pratchett audio and television adaptations, and Channel 4’s archaeology epic Time Team, Robinson has had a magical career.
To catch up with his latest work before the event, check out his new podcast, It’s About Time. Be warned, tickets for this one will go like hotcakes! The man is as notoriously hilarious without Atkinson, Fry and Laurie as he was with them.
9. An Audience with Jodi Picoult (Paid, ticketed) at 19:30 on Saturday 26 November at The Festival Theatre
A writer who could put Nicholas Sparks’ film success to shame when it comes to tugging at women’s heartstrings, Jodi Picoult is an author who time and time again brings beautifully powerful stories to the fore. Past successes include My Sister’s Keeper and The Pact, which both devastated readers with their unexpected twists.
The best-selling, chart-topping American will be discussing her latest book, Small Great Things. Expect talk of her writing success, family life, and a long queue for book signings afterwards.
10.Edinburgh Comic Arts Festival with Isabel Greenberg (Free, un-ticketed) at 11:00 on Sunday 27 November at Summerhall
Special guest-of-honour, The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth author, Isabel Greenberg and other home-grown talent comprise the line-up of the Edinburgh Comic Arts Festival. Meet the writers, illustrators and publishers, and browse the unsurprisingly magnificent comic collection.
While many of the events are free, make sure to head to the Scottish Book Trust website to secure a ticket: this is not an opportunity to miss!
Photo credit: Paula Stefanowska