Some of our favourite books of 2017

Ever wondered what your library staff choose to read? We asked colleagues to recommend their favourite books from last year.

Susan’s book of the year was Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
“This memoir, mostly covering Chris’s childhood and young adulthood, will be unlike anything you have ever read.  His prose is so rich and description laden and you quickly realise that this is how Chris sees the world – in intricate detail; a series of tastes, smells and sensations that he remembers with complete clarity even years later. It was such a privilege to be given access to someone else’s mind and to experience what it’s like to have Asperger’s. The descriptions of young Chris’ connections to animals and nature are both extraordinary and heartbreaking. Rarely has a memoir been written with such honesty, it truly is a unique and special book.”
Available as an ebook

Clare recommends Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
“Based on a true story, a group of people are brought together in their desperation to flee war-torn Europe. Upsetting and gripping, it’s not an easy read. Despite being set during World War Two, the story’s themes resonate with the world today: a vital read.”
Available as an ebook


Karen says,
“If you don’t want anything too taxing, then read Mick Herron’s Slough House series. The first one is ‘Slow Horses’, but I think you could read them in any order and still enjoy. Certainly, ‘Spook Street’ was both funny and suspenseful. I’m now reading all the series!”


Win has read a few this year, some of them better than others… however, she’s just started The stars are fire by Anita Shreve, one of her favourite authors.
“Her prose is wonderful – pared back – but, in those short paragraphs and sentences, she draws a picture of the characters. She opens up the lives of ordinary people and compels us to walk beside them as their stories emerge. She writes with ease, and I always feel confident in her ability to write a cracking good read. I get hooked very quickly each time I start one of her books!”

Nicola really enjoyed His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
“This was a really disturbingly dark read, but one which has you gripped from the start to finish! It’s set in the 19th century in a small crofting community in the Highlands. The historical content and attention to detail were brilliantly executed and I really felt the sense of oppression and poverty of that period.
A gruesome crime has taken place and the reader hears the confession of the main protagonist Roddy, but there is a lot more that is gradually to be uncovered which explains the circumstances which led to Roddy’s actions. I ended up having a great deal of sympathy for the main character, which was completely unexpected.
It was a fascinating read, especially the detail of day to day life in a crofting community, and the influence and corruption exerted by those in authority.
I would highly recommend this book.”
Available as an ebook

Janette chose The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy.
“I had a notion a few months ago, that I would randomly pick a book of the type I wouldn’t normally go for and see what I found. Well, this was one of them.
Emma recalls tales of nine consecutive years of camping holiday catastrophes with her mother and father in the 1970s, whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a trip to the south of France. It’s been a long time since I have laughed out loud reading a book, but I did with this one.”
Available as an ebook

And ahead of this year’s anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth, Carol’s book of the year was revisiting The prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
“She is a fantastic writer. I read it for my book group, there were lots of themes to talk about: social class, schooling, adolescence, society and politics in the 1930s, gender. Plus, the crème de la crème – Edinburgh, of course!”
Available as an ebook

What was your favourite book of the year?



Happy Read an eBook Day!

Today is Read an eBook Day!  eBooks enable you to take the stories and authors you love with you anytime, anywhere. If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer you can be connected to a world of literature whether you’re sitting on your couch, on an airplane 30,000 feet in the air and anywhere in between!

They save you space in your suitcases, can’t be lost or damaged and can be accessed at the click of a button. If you’ve never tried reading an ebook before, today is the perfect time to try one out! Borrow one of your favourite books or something completely new and discover the joys of digital reading.

Checkout our OverDrive ebook service today – stop off at the Your Library website first to find all the information you need to be able to start downloading in minutes.

Today you also have the chance to win a Kobo Aura One ereader. Simply check out an ebook from OverDrive and then “share” on social media what you are reading using the hashtag #eBookLove and you’ll be entered into a prize draw. For more information and to see what everyone else is reading see the Read an eBook Day website.

Tools out for summer!

Library users across Edinburgh can now pick up something a little different with their holiday reading. Thanks to the Edinburgh Tool Library, three libraries in the north of Edinburgh will soon host a ‘Tool Box’ – an extensive selection of tools available to borrow for an annual donation.

The Edinburgh Tool Library works exactly like a traditional library, except instead of books they have over 4000 tools to choose from. Since the Tool Library started in 2015, they have received donations of a wide range of power tools, hand tools, gardening gear and decorating kit. For the 800 members who have joined the Tool Library it has been of significant benefit to their pocket – and the planet!

The Tool Library are expanding their lending services to three libraries in the north of Edinburgh – Portobello, Piershill and Craigmillar. Each library will have its own fully equipped Tool Box, manned by a knowledgeable member of the Tool Library team ready to answer any questions you might have.

In addition to lending out tools, the Tool Library also undertakes numerous community projects, working with local people and groups to help them build the project of their dreams. Their Tools for Life programme offers mentorship opportunities to young people seeking employment. Working alongside retired professionals, participants get the chance to learn a wide range of joinery and craft skills.

The Tool Library welcomes donations of tools, used and new! They thoroughly check all tools to make sure they are in full working order before being lent out to members. They have a team of awesome volunteers and are always looking for people to join them! Whether you want to learn a new skill, or contribute one you already have, they can find a place for you in the team.

Joining the Tool Library is straightforward, and the annual membership fee is by donation – flexible depending on what you can afford. All members have access to the full range of tools and the fully-equipped wood-working workshop in Custom Lane in Leith. The Edinburgh Tool Library is a charitable organisation and any profits generated are fed back into their projects to enable them to help as many people and communities as possible.

Find the Edinburgh Tool Library at:
Portobello Library, Mondays at 4.30 – 7pm

From 15 August at Craigmillar Library, Tuesdays at 1 – 3.30pm
From 16 August at Piershill Library, Wednesdays at 4 – 6.30pm

If you have any questions, contact Anna at the Tool Library:

Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge has arrived!  The challenge for children aged 5-12 is to read six books over the school holidays. The theme is Animal Agents – who are investigating strange goings on in the library! Children collect stickers as they go and help crime busting creatures solve the clues to reveal the mystery!

On successfully completing the challenge, children receive a certificate and a gold medal!! There are also some excellent prizes on up for grabs this year including Dynamic Earth family passes, astronomy evenings at the Royal Observatory and Edinburgh Leisure passes, with more to be confirmed.

Pop into your local library and sign up to join in the fun. Borrow some animal agents themed books whilst you are there or any book you like. You can also find out what children’s activities will be taking place over the summer in your library whilst you are there. As well as borrowing books from the library you can even download some of our children’s ebooks and audiobooks to join in with the fun. Check out our Summer Reading Challenge collection on our OverDrive Kids site.

The Animal Agents adventure starts on the 23 June and runs until 27 August.

Seven uses for your library card besides borrowing books


Could you be getting more from your library card?

Here are seven things that magic little piece of plastic entitles you to – and they are all wonderfully FREE:

1. Download free emagazines and newspapers with PressReader and Zinio

2. Read scholarly journals with Access to Research

3. Get help setting up a new business using the COBRA database

4. Trace your family tree with Ancestry

5. Get book recommendations from a real life librarian

6. Stream music with Naxos

7. Take a mock driving theory test with Theory Test Pro

How do you use yours?







How does using the library benefit you?

Library members and users are invited to join a focus group discussion about their use of Edinburgh Libraries, at Edinburgh Central Library on Thursday 5th November from 11 am  – 12 noon.

The group is run as part of a wider research project seeking to investigate the impact and value that public libraries have in the UK.

If you are interested in participating please call 07969 513087 or email

Refreshments will be served at the meeting and participants will receive a £10 Amazon voucher for taking part.

A helpful new feature on the library catalogue

We know that many of you use the handy ‘lists’ function on the library catalogue to keep a track of books you want to read, so we thought you might like to know that you can now add notes to any of the items you’ve got on your list.


These notes will show up on any lists you choose to make public.

For an introduction to using lists see our previous post on ‘how to be a superborrower‘.