Edinburgh is lucky enough to benefit from numerous independent bookshops, including Lighthouse Books, the Edinburgh Bookshop, Transreal Fiction, Armchair Books, and Golden Hare Books. This bookish community is growing from quietly cosy places to curl up with a book, to one which can attract hundreds of ‘interested’ clicks on Facebook. Author events, book readings, book clubs, and launch parties are increasingly popular at all of the above, and nowhere more so than at the gorgeous Golden Hare in Stockbridge.
Golden Hare plays host to a myriad of events, including ‘in conversation with’ one-offs, a new Young Adult book club for 2019, a monthly reading salon, and weekly ‘Sunday Stories and Crafts’ (for children, but also understandably appealing to burnt out students). Also appealing to students is their monthly Short Story Club, described by Golden Hare as “a low-commitment, high-reward reading group for those who love short stories and want to hear more of them, and for those who are curious about the shorter form of fiction.” This week, on 12 February, Golden Hare bookseller Katalina Watt captivatingly read The Inner Room by Robert Aickman aloud to the group, who then discussed the story and its author.
The story centres around Lene, a woman reflecting upon the losses of the Second World War, telling the story of a very creepy doll’s house which she had as a child. It is not the shortest short story, at 80 pages, but it fits a lot in: she navigates her family, possible hallucinations, and her twisted memories of figures both real and imaginary. Aickman described his tales as “strange stories,” which sums up The Inner Room accurately. It was a perfect, if slightly terrifying, story for a February night by the fire with a glass of wine.
The Short Story Club has been going for over a year and has gone from strength to strength according to event host Katalina. In 2019 the shop is using books from the new series ‘Faber Stories,’ a series released in January to celebrate 90 years of publishing house Faber & Faber. The series is republishing some of their best and lesser-known short stories in beautiful paperbacks, and Golden Hare is capitalising fully on this by working their way through a selection of the series to help local readers discover writers old and new.
Nobody attending the event had much of an idea of who Robert Aickman was, nor were we familiar with his work, which made for a friendly, communal – and indeed, low commitment – book club chat. It is perfect for students – Golden Hare’s Short Story Club is free, monthly, you can enjoy a glass of wine, and unlike for your tutorial, you don’t have to do the reading in advance. Short stories are a wonderful and largely unsung format, and this is an accessible and edifying way to engage with them, whilst supporting local bookshops and widening your storytelling horizons. The next story is increasingly popular Sally Rooney’s Mr Salary and you can RSVP to the 12 March reading here.
Image: canecrabe via Flickr.