Our newest book group takes reading to another dimension

sci fi book group

‘Alternate Fiction’ is a new book group dedicated to sci-fi, horror, fantasy and graphic novels.

If you’re keen to explore far away worlds and mystical realms filled with ancient creatures and epic battles please come and join us.

Our first meeting takes place on Tuesday 12th May at 6pm at Wester Hailes Library, and we’ll meet monthly after that.

If you’d like to find out more email westerhailes.library@edinburgh.gov.uk or call 0131 529 5667


How much do you know about autism?

With the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time coming to The Festival Theatre, we thought it would be a great idea to mark World Autism Day last week by engaging readers in a discussion about the novel.

And so last Thursday Central Library hosted ‘The Curious Incident of the Giant Book Group’.

autism awareness event

Councillor Ricky Henderson opened the event with a useful resume of council services and commitment to supporting those affected by autism.

Cerin Richardson, Learning and Participation Manager from the Festival Theatre then invited people to attempt the ‘Autism Spectrum Conditions Quiz’ which kick-started some interesting discussions among the groups present.

There are more males than females diagnosed with autism. True or false?

True! Well, actually, research suggests that the ratio of males to females diagnosed is about 4:1 although more recent research suggests that there are more females with autism than previously thought.

More than 500,000 people have autism in the UK. True or false?

Indeed that is also true:  research suggests that 1 in every 100 people has autism, and therefore, well over 500,000 have autism in the UK.

The MMR vaccination can cause autism. True or false?

Although there has been massive publicity on this topic, the weight of epidemiological evidence indicates that there is no statistically significant link between MMR vaccaine and autism…

Autism can be cured if treated early enough. True or false?

There is no cure for autism, but with the right support people can continue to learn and develop skills throughout their lives.

Cerin then went on to lead  a fascinating discussion, engaging those who had read and discussed in small groups,with invaluable input from Matthew Day, Service Coordinator at Autism Initiatives who has worked with adults on the Autism Spectrum for many years, and Amanda Wilson, whose son is on the spectrum. Amanda’s  personal experiences were very powerful and particularly appreciated by all participants.

‘ I particularly enjoyed the round table discussion and panel input, and linking the book to the play’

‘…Amanda’s account of being the mother of a boy with autism gave particular insight…’

‘I knew very little about autism at the start of the evening, but went away with much more understanding about the condition…’

Thanks to everyone who took part.

Join the Big Library Read!

Want to read a great autobiography that highlights the power of books in people’s lives? Then join in with this year’s Big Library Read!

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates will be available on our OverDrive site from 17-31 March for any library member to download. Read it on your own; read it with your friends; or host your own Big Library Read book group!

ShakespeareThe book follows English professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates as she took the bard behind bars to a solitary confinement  prison. One of the inmates however was trying to break out of prison, whilst Laura was trying to  get Shakespeare in! Witness the beginning of an unlikely friendship bonded by Shakespeare and lasting years – a friendship that, in the end, would save more than one life.

If you are new to OverDrive there are full user instructions available to get you started so you too can join in with the Big Library Read.

The Curious Incident of the Giant Book Group

Autism Awareness Day is on 2nd April. That’s a bit away we know, but there’s a good reason for bringing it up now.

That evening we’ll be hosting a Giant Book Group, where we’ll be discussing Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’.

As you may know, the stage version of the book is coming to Edinburgh at the end of April, and on our guest panel will be Cerin Richardson from the Festival Theatre, who have very kindly donated two pairs of tickets for the show which we’ll be giving away in a prize draw.

Joining Cerin will be Matthew Day from Autism Initiatives, who will discuss some of the challenges faced by people living with autism.

Prior to our panel session we’ll be holding small group discussions about the book . If you haven’t read it already you can of course borrow a copy from the library, and if you need a set for your book group we may be able to help you out.

The event itself is free, with refreshments provided. It all kicks off at Central Library, from 6.30pm, on Thursday 2nd April.

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now.

Part of a programme of events organised by Autism Edinburgh.




“I love the atmosphere at the library” Noelia’s story

NoeliaWith National Libraries Day fast approaching what better time to share this story about the difference libraries have made to the life of one of our members:

“My name is Noelia. I am a Spanish girl who came to Edinburgh running away from the big recession that is taking place in my home country.

I chose Scotland because I knew about its wonderful landscape and its marvellous and friendly people. I chose Edinburgh because it is such a cultural city. It is the birthplace of so many fantastic and famous writers and so diverse significant celebrities. This city captured me from the very beginning.

I found Edinburgh Libraries a passionate place to be. I spend most of my free time there – a place where you can read, study, talk, have a coffee, meet people and attend  numerous cultural events. I love the atmosphere at the library. It makes me feel comfortable. It makes me feel at home.

I joined the ESOL Reading Group because I found it very useful in order to practise my English. In this group you can improve your English by reading and by talking to people and feel confident while you do so. I realise that this group has given me more than just that. Joining this group has given me the opportunity to love and enjoy reading in a second language.

I have come to know several Scottish authors. It has also made me aware of how much the reading can provide you with. It can give you new vocabulary to learn, new themes to know and to talk and discuss about. It gives you new knowledge about places and people and I enjoy sharing with people in the same situation as me. It has been very supportive in this new chapter of my life.

Thanks to the Edinburgh library for giving us the opportunity to love improving our English through the reading and the speaking about books;  for making  things easier for newcomers from other countries; for giving us the courage to keep improving. Thanks for your support!”

If your English is at intermediate level or above, you are very welcome to join Noelia and others like her.

We meet from 2.30pm-3.30pm the first Wednesday of each month, in the Central Library, George IV Bridge. For more information please contact wendy.pearson@edinburgh.gov.uk

Explore contemporary European fiction with our new book group

found in translation

Discover the best in contemporary European fiction with Found in Translation, a new monthly book group meeting at Central Library.

We’ve put together this list to get an idea of the kinds of books we’ll be reading.

If that looks right up your street call 0131 242 8070 or email cecylia.o’may@edinburgh.gov.uk to register for the group.

Our first meeting will be on 2nd March from 6pm – 7pm, thereafter we’ll be meeting \at the same time on the first Monday of the month.

Look forward to meeting you!

Level Up at Wester Hailes

lvlup5Level Up launched last year in Wester Hailes Library as a way to tackle low levels of reading among teenagers using the library. The library adopted an innovative approach to try to boost the reading habits among this group which tied reading into the more familiar territory of computer games.

We caught up with the level uppers at their AGM (yep, they take this seriously) as they plan the year ahead. A group of around 14 teenagers sit enthusiastically pitching ideas to Library Officer Tony Stewart for future activities and reward nights which include games tournaments, minecraft sessions to pizza nights and archery. The caveat being these must be earned through the accumulation of xp points they gain from reading.

lvlUp2Tony explains: “We brought  these two worlds together and in order to keep it as a group we made it weekly and based it around interesting activities for them to do and at the same time encourage them to take out books.  Gaining XP points as they take out books then creates a sense of achievement through reading.”

“The XP awarded to a book is based simply on how long the book is. Each list includes   5 short books/graphic novels, some of which are dyslexic friendly, and 5 longer books. This is to give those who have issues with reading the option of an easier read. Reading the shorter books means reading more books to reach the level cap but this adds to the sense of achievement in completing the level, encouraging them to try a longer book in the next.”

Like any game Level Up starts on “LvL1″. This consists of a list of 10 books, each with its own amount of XP reward. Once the player reaches the 1000 XP cap they can then move onto “LvL2” which has its own list of books and so on. Along the way the readers are given stickers to add to their reading journal to document their journey.

lvlUp4Tony says this approach has made a real difference: “We have seen higher borrowing levels in all the kids who take part and greater self-confidence and more enthusiasm for the library in general.”

“They all seem to have a feeling of ownership for the group as well which is one of the things we aimed to achieve. This has bonded the group quite tightly together.  They come to the weekly meetings now and take part in activities and now all leave with a few books tucked under their arms to get their xp points.

We have some who aren’t confident readers who are taking out books. They aren’t taking out tonnes or reading them all but even if they read a few I feel it makes a difference and we are making some progress.”

Everyone is also encouraged to share their new love of reading and discuss what they’ve been reading. This can take place during one of their weekly sessions or through a micro book review which they post to the Level Up twitter feed.  During our visit everyone is busy writing a love letter to the library, an event promoted as part of Book Week Scotland.

LevelUP Letters

Some of the boys taking part are happy to point out the benefits of the group:

Alex: I’ve been doing this for over a year. It’s great taking part in all the activities and games. I like building up my points and collecting the stickers and achievements for reading. It’s  good to come along to a group where you are rewarded for learning.

Daniel: You get different points for different books so there’s always something you can find to suit you. I’m currently on 595 xp.  I definitely take out more books now and where I never used to read much before and now sit at home and read for ages.

With the future year getting planned out so diligently it looks like Level Up has become a firm fixture in the regular events at Wester Hailes calendar and  is likely to expand out to some of the other libraries in the city.  If you are interested in taking part, ask in your local library for more details.

Follow Level Up and read reviews on twitter: @LVLUPxp