BookNook: Waterstones

BookNook is a weekly feature in which Fiona Grew shares her favourite spots around Edinburgh to enjoy a good read

I have a confession to make. I already have an all-time favourite armchair in an all-time favourite café in Edinburgh but I’ve been putting off writing about it for a couple of weeks, because I thought it might be a bit too ‘mainstream’.

Before I give the game away, let me tell you what’s so special about this one. I’m sitting in a massive bay window that looks directly out on the Castle. This inspires me and I like to imagine it’s a (much) lesser amount of the same inspiration that J.K. Rowling felt when she created Hogwarts. The remainder of the walls around me are stacked high with books – which, geekily enough, always makes me feel calmer. I can hear people in the background shuffling around, pulling books from shelves and I catch snippets of everything from mundane gossip to highbrow let’s-critically-discuss-our-favourite-Dostoevsky-novel conversation. Finally, it just happens to be the perfect midway point between my flat in Tollcross and the West End, where I catch the bus to my Grandparents’ house.

I came here a lot, to the Waterstone’s Café on Princes Street, during the Fringe. It was always packed, presumably because it is within a stone’s throw of the Edinburgh Book Festival, but that never put me off. I sat and read almost the entirety of the new Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling book, The Silkworm, here. Now I come back to work and gaze at the Castle. I force myself to power-walk through the ground floor and up the stairs with blinkers on until I arrive at the coffee counter. If I don’t, I invariably end up meandering through the tables for half an hour until I settle on something to buy – good for neither my bank balance nor my work ethic. Despite my appreciation for second-hand books and quirky cafés, I love Waterstone’s. I’ll probably be here every week until I’ve finished my degree, watching people Instagram the Castle and couples smooching on the benches across the road from my favourite window seat.

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