Step out with us!

We’re so keen on the Medal Routes (short circular walking routes that start and finish at the same location) put together by Ramblers Scotland.

And not just because many of the routes start and finish at Edinburgh libraries!

Inspired by the Commonwealth Games, there are bronze, silver and gold routes, designed to take approximately 15, 30 or 60 minutes to complete.

When you’re done you can relax at the library (perhaps with one of these tales of walking adventure)

Visit the Ramblers Scotland site to download the maps or pick up pick up leaflets from the following libraries which features as start / finish points:

Currie, Granton, South Queensferry, Wester Hailes, Blackhall,, Leith, Portobello, Central, Craigmillar and Morningside.

And if you’re doing one of the Wester Hailes Library routes you can borrow a pedometer and starter pack, so you can see how far you walk in a day!

Make sure and ask too about the guided walks that the library are running throughout August – and check our progress chart to see which member of staff does the most steps between now and the end of the Commonwealth Games!

‘Elizabeth is missing’ author Emma Healey at Blackhall Library

‘A new talent with a remarkable knack for observation and an ear for dialogue.’ Toronto Star

‘The British author so fully inhabits the 80-year-old heroine… that it’s easy to forget the writer has yet to hit 30.’ Globe and Mail

Her slot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival sold out fast, but rising star Emma Healey will be joining us for a free event at Blackhall Library on Monday 11th August to discuss her acclaimed debut novel.

Elizabeth is Missing is a psychological mystery and a study of dementia narrated by the character of Maud, a forgetful eighty-one year-old whose mind is continually drawn to the disappearance of her friend.

This event, which starts at 7pm, is going to book up fast so reserve your place now by calling Blackhall Library on 0131 529 5587 or email

Ajay Close

Thanks to Ajay Close who popped in last week to tell us about her new novel Trust.

DSC_2932Ajay’s readings tantalized but didn’t give away the plot, and our Edinburgh Reads audience were impressed by the authors’ humour as well as her knowledge of the banking world and the miner’s strike.

Thanks Ajay!

Stuart Kelly on “Waverley” at 200

It has lent its name to a railway station, a fountain pen, a type of sock and even an ice-cream cone!

But when it was first published, Walter Scott’s Waverley came out of nowhere.

There was no named author, it didn’t fit into any recognizable genre, and even the quotation at the beginning of the book was ambiguous.

So how did it (and its author) come to have such a huge influence on our country and its literature, and why has it fallen so completely out of fashion?

The answers to those questions were revealed by critic, author and former Booker Prize judge Stuart Kelly at our latest Edinburgh Reads event last Monday.

Stuart argued that rather than viewing Scott as a harbinger for Dickens and the other great nineteenth century novelists we would do better to see him as the heir eighteenth century novelists such as Sterne and Smollett, especially if we consider the self-aware, self-conscious nature of his work.

There’s also a humorous aspect to Scott’s writing, a characteristic which is often overlooked, remarkably so given the passages Stuart read to us over the course of the hour (especially the start of chapter 24 of Waverley).

In terms of story Stuart agreed with Allan Massie that Scott ignores almost all the historical set-pieces you might suppose would be included in a novel on the Jacobite uprising.

And this is typical of Scott. He tiptoes round Scottish history, neglecting figures such as Knox and Wallace, and events like Bannockburn.

He is more interested in illuminating the margins of Scottish history, and echoes Shakespeare (who he quotes throughout his works) in the way he covers the entire social strata. In this sense he is more of a pluralist than those who followed him, and for this reason critics from across the ideological spectrum have been able to claim him as their own.

Before we closed there was time for questions from the floor, giving Stuart the opportunity to enlighten us on how Scott got into so much debt, the nature of the ‘historical’ novel and how to reignite interest in Scott’s work. (Doctor Who is the man  for the job!)

A witty, knowledgeable and engaging speaker, Stuart could I think have happily talked Scott for another hour, and his audience would have been more than happy to listen. At the start of the talk there was a show of hands as to who of us had actually read Waverley, and I’ll wager that those who hadn’t took up Stuart’s challenge to at least give the first chapter a bash, so infectious was his enthusiasm for his subject.

Let’s hope we can get him back for one of the other Scott bicentenaries we’ll be celebrating all the way up to 2032!

Discover a (common)wealth of reading this summer and win yourself a tablet!

This summer libraries all over Scotland are celebrating authors and books with links to Commonwealth countries.

And you could be celebrating too, if you’re the lucky winner of a tablet in this prize draw (the tablet gadget that is, not not the confection!)

Here’s how to enter:

Visit your library before the end of September and choose a title from the Wealth of Reading display.

Once you’ve read it simply share the best things about the book in under 50 words. You can enter online or fill in a postcard at the library.

There are loads of books to choose from. You might pick this tragi-comic tale from the Niger delta, these beautifully crafted Indian novellas or some sci-fi from Barbados.

Here are a few more suggestions for you to choose from or ask at your local library. Good luck!

The Mythical Maze app

This year’s Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland, Mythical Maze, has its own app. Here’s how it works:


We’ve got a whole summer of mythical-related events and activities lined up. Ask at your nearest library or take a look at our calendar to find out more.


Mapping (more) Edinburgh fiction

People keep writing books set in Edinburgh, so we keep adding them to our Edinburgh Reads map.

Here are three recent additions, which apart from their setting, don’t have too much in common at all!

The Democrat by Olly Wyatt is a globe-spanning historical thriller made all the more exciting by the fact that it’s based on the real life adventures of political reformer Thomas Muir.

Ghost MoonRon Butlin’s Ghost Moon is inspired by the experiences of the former Edinburgh Makar’s mother. The novel tells the story of a pregnant young woman thrown out of her home in the 1950s – a secret she only reveals to her son Tom many years later, when she is suffering from dementia.

Our map also features many books written for a much younger audience. Olivia’s Enchanted Summer by Lyn Gardner’s is one of these. Olivia and her stage school chums are in town for the festival, but a mysterious thief threatens to ruin their stay.

Which books are right up your street? Explore the map to find out – and if you think there’s one we’ve missed be sure to let us know.

Edinburgh Reads: “Trust” by Ajay Close

“Your friends or your principles: which would you betray?”

Our next Edinburgh Reads event features Ajay Close, who’ll be talking to us about her latest novel Trust, tracing the lives of three friends from the miners’ strike of 1984 through to the 2006 banking crisis.

A novel about  love, money, friendship and ideals, Trust asks some searching questions about how people adapt over time, and how they stay the same.

“intelligent and uncompromising” The Herald

“‘a serious book for grown-ups who want the world taken not with a pinch of salt but with something a little stronger … a boon to those who want to be made to think, both about men and women and the relations between them, and about the values we so often assume are shared ones.’ 
The Scotsman

Ajay will be at Edinburgh Central Library from 7pm on Thursday 3rd July. Reserve your free place now.


Take the Summer Reading Challenge Online!

This year’s Mythical Maze Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland entices children aged four to eleven to find their way around a labyrinth, introducing them to fantastical creatures from the world of legend and mythology, and collecting stickers of each character along the way.

Visit your local library to join up for the challenge. Reading ebooks as well as printed ones count towards the challenge so why not also checkout the brilliant range of related ebooks available on our Kids & Teens Overdrive site. You’ll find magical titles such as First Aid for Fairies and other Fabled Beasts, a brilliant tale of mythical creatures set in Scotland and classics such as The Sword in the Stone.

eBooks are brilliant for taking away on holiday (less weight in those cases!), are a stealthy way of encouraging reading in screen-addicted children and are available 24/7 from wherever you are.

Taking the library to Edinburgh’s care homes

We’re looking for people to help us.take the library out to care homes across the city.

‘Read Aloud’ brings poetry alive, with song and conversation for elderly residents in 16 care homes. A small staff team and more than 30 fantastic volunteers spend up to an hour reading and chatting with groups once a month.

We bring poetry and short stories along with a few familiar songs, photographs and objects to stimulate reminiscence and discussion.

This fantastic work has been recognized at the recent Inspiring Volunteering Achievement Awards.

Here Annie Bell (left) and Rowan Walker of Edinburgh Libraries accept the certificate from Lord Provost Donald Wilson.

Annie Bell, Rowan Walker and Lord Provost Donlad Wilson

If you’re interested in volunteering email or phone 0131 242 8046 to find out more and request an application form.

How to read when you don’t have time to read

If you love books and reading, finding new books to read is not an issue. It’s finding the time to sit down and read them that’s the problem!

One of the best things about audiobooks (which library members can download free from Overdrive and Oneclickdigital) is that they allow you to catch up on your ‘reading’ while you’re doing something else, whether that’s exercising, gardening, doing the housework or travelling.

(Some readers even borrow the audio version of the physical book they’ve got out of the library to help them get through it even faster!)

As well as giving you the chance to get through that ‘to be read’ list while you’re otherwise occupied, listening to someone narrate the book adds a new and sometimes surprising dimension to the reading process.

Start downloading today and get through more books than ever!

Audio Books

Five reasons why library members love eBooks

Here are some of the reasons why Overdrive is becoming increasingly popular with members of Edinburgh City Libraries:

1. eBooks offer more choice to people who have problems with their vision

Lots of people who borrow eBooks do so because they have sight problems that prevent them from being able to read your average paperback. Overdrive has made a real difference to their reading life.

2. eBooks offer more choice 

The 10 eBooks you can borrow for three weeks comes on top of the 12 item limit for physical books. That’s 22 books every three weeks – more than enough reading for anyone (surely?!)

3. eBooks are portable

One of the most frequently trumpeted advantage of eBooks is that they are more portable than printed books. Which is perfectly true.

4. eBooks mean you’re never far from the library

Whether you’re holidaying in Troon or Tenerife, as long as you’ve got internet access you’ve got the library with you, so you can return and borrow books to your heart’s content.

5. Nobody needs to know what you’re reading

And we’re not just talking about keeping your Games of Thrones addiction a secret from your fellow bus passengers. Overdrive offers free access to lots of self-help books covering sensitive issues that many readers would rather not broadcast to people around them.

That’s five reasons, can you think of any others?


Ten years that changed Edinburgh

An event at Blackhall Library shines light on a decade of change.

The birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the growth of consumerism, and the coronation of a young Queen…

Great change was taking place in 1950′s Britain, and Edinburgh was right at the heart of it. After the ravages of war it was time for the city to start again.

Proposed Dumbiedykes development, 1952 (

Grandiose recommendations were made in the Civic Survey and Plan, the International Festival and Military Tattoo were introduced as an antidote to post-war austerity and trams were usurped by buses and cars.

In “Edinburgh in the 1950′s: ten years that changed a city” Jack Gillon, David McLean and Fraser Parkinson show how Scotland’s capital embraced massive social change while maintaining its traditions.

And we’re delighted to say that the authors will be at Blackhall Library on Monday 30th June at 6.30pm to talk about the book and the issues surrounding it.

To book your place at this free event email or call 0131 529 5587.

Join the Big Library Read

Join the biggest book group in the world and take part in the Overdrive Big Library Read!

All library members will be able to borrow and read the eBook, A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson, from the 3rd-18th June by visiting  our Overdrive site.

This unusual mystery novel is set in the cut-throat world of dog shows! The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull looks suspiciously like foul play as his prize winning pedigree poodle is also now missing. Melanie Travis is talked into investigating her uncle’s death so poses as a poodle breeder. She soon discovers, in the championship dog world, the instinct for survival, and winning, can prove fatal.

During the Big Library Read there is unlimited simultaneous access to this title. Why not get together with your friends or family and have a mini book group. Overdrive ebooks can be read on a wide range of computers, tablets, mobile phones and ebook readers (see Overdrive information page for more details).


Edinburgh Reads: Val McDermid

“I would not be a writer if it wasn’t for the public library system” Val McDermid

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Val McDermid (r) with Christine Hamilton (courtesy Andrew Ansell)

Val McDermid  kept us entertained at last week’s Edinburgh Reads event. In a packed and wide-ranging hour Val covered everything from re-imagining Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey to memories of going to Oxford as a 16-year-old. Between times there was a hilarious anecdote about how she inadvertently upset a television scriptwriter.

DSC_2094 copy

Look out for video of the event appearing on the Edinburgh Reads playlist very soon – where you’ll be able to find out which book Val described as having ‘everything’, and why we’ll probably never see her doing a children’s story time.

In the meantime you can see more snaps from the night on Flickr.

“a joy to listen to”

“always good value”


Just some of the audience feedback from the night. We couldn’t put it any better ourselves. Thanks a million Val!

Andy McNab at Oxgangs Library

Fans of ‘Bravo Two Zero’ author Andy McNab got a rare chance to meet up with the master of action and suspense yesterday at Oxgangs Library.


The former SAS soldier spoke openly and engagingly about his tough upbringing, his experiences in the army, his writing life and his work in Hollywood.

Andy was particularly passionate when speaking about the importance of developing literacy skills and the power that comes with reading and knowledge.

A fascinating and inspirational talk – thanks Andy!

Buckfast, libraries and Margaret Thatcher: Damian Barr at Central Library

An engaging and witty Damian Barr popped in to Central Reference Library last month to discuss his memoir Maggie and Me.

Our video shows Damian talking openly to Richard Holloway about the devastating abuse he suffered as a child, his relationship with his parents and teachers, and how he found refuge in libraries.

Check out our playlist for film from other Edinburgh Reads  events.




Win a day out at the Zoo with Tiger Tales

If you’re at Edinburgh Zoo on Saturday 24th May between 11am and 3pm come and help us celebrate the launch of Tiger Tales, our new story and craft group for parents with children aged 4 -8, with stories, crafts, activities, face-painting and loads of fun!

Tiger Tales logo new promo

For a chance to win a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children) to the launch and entry to the zoo for the day, come along to one of the libraries listed below holding Tiger Tales sessions and enter the colour- in prize draw. The prize draw is for Tiger Tales session attendees only. Entries must be completed by 5pm Saturday 17th May and winners will be notified by Monday 19th May.

You can come along to Tiger Tales sessions at:

Fountainbridge Library – Saturday 17th May 3pm-4pm and every third Saturday after.

Moredun Library – Every Thursday 3:05pm-4pm

Ratho Library – Friday 9th May  2:30pm-3:15pm and every second Friday after.

Sighthill Library – Friday 2nd May 2pm-3pm and every second Friday after.

Wester Hailes Library – Friday 9th May 2pm-3pm and every second Friday after.

Hope you see you there!!!

Politics, romance and hunting faeries: more Edinburgh fiction mapped

Recent additions to our map of books set in Edinburgh:

Charlotte Square is the home of Lady Aileana Kameron, who between attending dances and balls, is busy slaughtering faeries during the winter of 1844 in The Falconer by Elizabeth May.

From the past to the not so distant future: Craig Smith’s debut “The Mile” takes place along the Royal Mile on the eve of September’s independence vote.

There’s not actually a Jamaica Lane in Edinburgh but as writer Samantha Young points out in her introduction, it’s a better title for her love story than ‘Before Jamaica Street Lane North‘ would have been.

Elsewhere, we’ve pinned Jennie Erdal’s ‘The missing shade of blue‘ to the National Library of Scotland and another colourful title, Natalie Haynes The Amber Fury, at Rankeillor Street.

Take a look round the map and find out which books are right up your street!

And if you have any suggestions for books to add to the map please do share them with us.

Andy McNab comes to Oxgangs Library

Your mission: Brunch and banter with bestselling author and former SAS soldier Andy McNab.

Location: Oxgangs Library

Call: 0131 529 5549 to book.

Andy’s book Last night another soldier is one of the Quick Reads series of short, easy to read books for adults who are less confident with their reading skills. So this event is especially suitable for anyone discovering the joys of reading for the first time.

Watch Andy and a host other celebrities and authors talking openly and passionately about their relationship with reading – both good and bad – in this short film: