Inside Edinburgh Reads

AlexanderMcCallSmithOver the last few years Edinburgh Libraries have played host to a number of great author events under the banner of Edinburgh Reads.  We caught up with Edinburgh Reads supremo Annie Bell to find out more:

Could you describe Edinburgh Reads?
Put simply Edinburgh Reads is our brand name for author events in Edinburgh Libraries.  They take place in Central Library and in community libraries across the city. We attract well-known authors and debut writers.  Our events have been well attended with crowds of up to 150 on some occasions.

What would someone expect from an Edinburgh Reads event?
It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, to get together as a group and listen to great authors read and talk about their work.  People can ask their own questions and it’s a very sociable occasion too giving people a chance to enjoy a glass of wine and generally share their love of books and reading.  It also has a great impact on the library in terms of getting more people through the door and as a way to remind people of the important role libraries play in their community.

Does Edinburgh Reads have an online presence?
We have filmed most of our events and also have an in-house photographer to take photos and the resulting media can be accessed through our social media channels. We’ve built up an amazing collection of authors that have visited over the last few years. As well as providing a great archive it also helps us reach a much wider audience. Who knew someone from Venezuela would be interested in our videos?

What have been the highlights so far?
There’s been so many highlights. It’s the best part of my job, I love hosting these events, meeting authors and hearing what they have to say.  Particular favourites have been Jane Harris who was here recently, she wrote Gillespie and I which is a favourite among our book-groups.  She was a marvellous speaker. She’d studied drama previously so she was able to put on different voices as she read and really brought her novels alive.  She was funny, lively and great at answering the audiences questions.

Another author who was excellent was John Cairney.  We had him last year as part of our Previously history festival.  John talked about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. They were spellbound.

Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to invite to an Edinburgh Reads event and why?
I’d love to get Hilary Mantell. She wrote Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies both of which were awarded The Man Booker Prize.  She’s a marvellous writer and does fantastic research. She’s quite hard to get hold of as well so that’s another reason. I think it’d create quite a stir among our reading community in Edinburgh.

Up coming events include Christopher Brookmyre (tonight!) and then again at South Queensferry on Mon Nov 11th. Then we have Donald Smith and Kirsty Gunn in November with Edinburgh’s Makar Ron Butlin following in December. Damien Barr, Andrew O’Hagan and Val McDiarmid are due to appear in the new year.

Tickets and a list of forthcoming events in libraries are available by visiting our Eventbrite page.  Videos from previous events can be viewed on our You Tube channel.

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