Edinburgh Book Festival October 22, 2013Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
I’m the first to admit I’m spoiled when it comes to book festivals. I live in Washington DC, where the National Book Festival takes over the National Mall for two days every September. It’s a sprawling event, with huge tents, signing lines that go on for blocks and costumed characters wandering around. This summer, I managed to catch the beginning of another book festival– the Edinburgh International Book Festival–which has a much smaller footprint, but lasts much longer and has no less passion for the written word.
Located in Charlotte Square and surrounded by elegant Georgian houses, the festival draws many of the biggest literary names from Britain and beyond. Unlike in DC, author events are ticketed and cost a fee, so I was content to simply wander around the complex of tents and drink a cup of tea in the cafe. There are raised walkways connecting the various tents (some of which, like the Spiegeltent, are gloriously decorated), all covered in case of rain. Since the weather in Edinburgh is almost always cloudy, this is a very good precaution. But the sun was shining when I stopped by and I got to enjoy the central courtyard with chairs ringing the central statue, grass for kids to run on and dozens of people reading newspapers, books or e-readers. The festival stores were massive (separate tents for children and adult titles) with shelf upon shelf of local authors, local history and titles from small publishers. And Alexander McCall Smith tea towels!
I wish I could have stayed in town longer to see some of the amazing writers and panels that were being offered. Eventually I had to stop flipping through the program book, I was getting so envious. I bought one book at the shop, about the Edinburgh book sculptures, which may have to get a post of their own at some point. I hope that I can go back to Edinburgh at some point and enjoy more of the wonders of the book festival. In the meantime, the Library of Congress should start working on a cafe (with tea and scones) and chairs to put out on the Mall.