The joy of rereading

Today’s blogpost is by Central Library’s Hope Whitmore, where she explores the joys and need to re-read beloved books.

“When I was a child, led into Kendal Library, holding my father’s hand, I looked up from my three foot something height at the shelves around me, and declared, grandly, ‘I will read all the books and then I will know everything in the world!’ 

Working in Edinburgh Central Library I would remember this, the wonder of so many books, and the way it seemed possible, to a five-year-old me, that these could be devoured. As a librarian I would see new books every day, not only the New new books, which went on the red trolley (unpacking and receipting these was one of my favourite tasks) but also new-to-me-books, the ones which had somehow (how?) remained hidden, even as I shelved trolleys and book checked. The main library was full of new discoveries to be made, slim little paperbacks, not previously noted, or huge tomes, somehow previously overlooked.

But, however much excitement I feel on discovering a new book, however thrilling it is to go down to the basement, cut open the boxes, remove the padding and reveal a box of gorgeous just published hardbacks, I am not staying true to my five-year-old self, rather, I have found myself lately going back to old familiar books, those I loved as a child, or in my early twenties, or even more recently than that.

Before lockdown I took out several books, and throughout lockdown have bought many others, but most of them remain unread, put to one side, in favour of the familiar novels I know and love, the rhythms of which I can follow, the beats of the story like the next note in a well-loved song.

Why, when surrounded by choice, do I do this? What happened to the child, who wanted to know all the things? And why do others reread books, particularly at times when things are hard. I set out to find out.

I put out a call on Social Media asking people why do you reread. Many cited familiarity as a reason to return to old books – the comfort of a story you know, the control of knowing what will happen, the pleasure of anticipation, the joy of remembering something suddenly, or pre-empting what is on the next page, with all the uncertainty and fallibility which comes with human memory (which way did this chapter lead, is this path how I remember it?) One friend, said ‘rereading gives comfort akin to rosary beads.’ Another friend wrote, ‘there is reassurance in knowing how something will end.’

There is also, however, the element of having changed, and therefore the book – seemingly once so beautiful, so strange, so romantic – having a different texture. ‘I first read Lolita when I was Lolita’s age,’ said one friend, ‘it reads totally differently reading it at the age of the character Humbert Humbert.’ 

At different ages, our life experience gives us different lenses. My favourite series of all time, The Cazalet Chronicles, follows a family with characters of all ages. You get to be so many different people, from the stubborn Louise who longs to play Hamlet, the beautiful but unhappy Zoe, to the lonely, lovely, dowdy Miss Milliment with stains on her clothes, and her glasses always hazy from the food she drops on them. Whichever stage of life you are at, you can ‘get’ the characters. 

In one of The Cazalet Books, I believe it is marking time, Clary, the imaginative little girl with always bitten nails begins to grow up, and speaks about reading for the sake of ‘meeting old friends again.’ This comes at a time when Clary feels lost. Her father, Rupert, is lost in France following the Normandy landings, presumed dead. She therefore seeks refuge in books, and the familiar friendship of these characters whose stories she knows, and who she can turn to again and again. These people are flawed, complex, human, and beloved, but on the page they don’t change, even as we do.

Perhaps this is what leads us to reread. Many people cite familiarity, in a world where things are looking far from familiar, with a lens, which is coloured by current events and different than any lens through which we have read before. Maybe, when we are so altered, so unsure, so lost, even, we need to reach for these old friends, to open their books, and greet them once again, ready to run the familiar, wild, overgrown paths, and hear their stories told anew.”

Join in with the Big Library Read

Join millions of others around the world in reading a historical fiction thriller during the Big Library Read, the world’s largest digital book club. From 3-17 August, readers can borrow and read Tim Mason’s “intellectually stimulating and viscerally exciting” ebook or audiobook The Darwin Affair from our OverDrive service. Solve the mystery from home – with your library card and no waiting lists, with the Libby app or by visiting our OverDrive website. You can even discuss the book online.

Historical fiction novel The Darwin Affair takes place in London during June 1860. When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later, Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Soon, Field’s investigation exposes a shocking conspiracy in which the publication of Charles Darwin’s controversial On the Origin of Species sets off a string of murders, arson, kidnapping, and the pursuit of a madman named the Chorister. As he edges closer to the Chorister, Field uncovers dark secrets that were meant to remain forever hidden. Tim Mason has created a rousing page-turner that both Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would relish!

The book will be available on the home page of the Libby/OverDrive apps and the OverDrive website from the 3 August and with unlimited downloads is perfect for discussing with your friends and family. If you use #biglibraryread on social media you’ll be entered into a draw to win a Samsung Galaxy Tablet!  Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

What books are staff reading to help them through the lockdown?

We asked staff at Central Library to tell us a bit about the books they’ve been reading that have helped them through lockdown.

It turns out we’ve got a bit of a Marian Keyes fan club with a number of us reading her books that so engagingly tackle complex and difficult subjects with humour. Depression, alcoholism, bulimia, being broke, being unlucky in love … you name it … why are we reading about all these topics just now?

Fiona who’s been reading The Mystery of Mercy Close says `the reason it helps is basically because of the humour in it even though the main character suffers from depression’. Lesley is just starting on The Break, Joanna is reading Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married and Bronwen’s reading Grown Ups and says `I can be in someone else’s life while I’m reading; I love the characters and even though the book portrays real personal suffering, I’m laughing out loud one minute and crying the next’.  So thank you Marian Keyes – your writing is clearly helping us pull through. All of the Marian Keyes books noted are available from Edinburgh City Libraries’ RBdigital audiobook service.

Some books we read help us put our troubles in perspective. Doris’ last two are American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara.

Doris says “Both reminded me that as challenging as things are with lockdown –  the situation could be so much worse! Djinn Patrol deals with poverty and the slums in India and is heartbreaking yet is told with a deft sense of humour by the main character Jai. I loved the first 100 pages of American Dirt but must admit, I found it a bit implausible, as misery upon misery was heaped on the protagonists as the book progressed.”

Sometimes we want to read old favourites. Joanna has gone back to re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories. She says they are a “total escape from everyday problems and a lot of fun”. Discworld is a parallel time and place which might sound and smell like our own but looks completely different. Start with The Colour of Magic.

Historical stories set in difficult times can provide a sense of perspective on today. After reading a magazine article about the history of Agony Aunt columns, Clare found a suggested read, Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce on Overdrive. “Set during the London Blitz, it doesn’t avoid the hardships and destruction experienced on the home front, yet manages to be light-hearted and optimistic in tone. The  characters have setbacks but refuse to be beaten by events. Every day routine, worries, friendships and romances carry on. It was the perfect, easy, uplifting book I needed right now.”

A bit of time can also see you getting round to a book you’ve thought about reading. Jeanette says:
“During lockdown, I read a book I’ve meant to get to for ages, which is This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I might be the one of the few people in the country to not to have read this book since it was written in 2017 to great acclaim. It’s a collection of Kay’s secret diary entries which he wrote whilst working as a junior doctor. As a woman of a certain age, experiencing hot flushes and insomnia, I started to read it at 3am one dark morning, hoping it would help me drift back to sleep. I could not have been more wrong. It is both hilarious and shocking from the offset, filled with the author’s experiences of working on the front line of the NHS. By the time I had reached page 22, an account involving objects stuck in orifices, the book had to be put down as I was unable to stifle the laughter any longer and was in danger of waking my sleeping partner up!

This is not a book for the faint hearted or easily offended: strong language is used throughout, there are details of gruesome injuries that made me cringe, truly heartbreaking stories about births and deaths, and “a constant tsunami of bodily fluids” throughout. That said, it is an important book for all of us and especially now, as it is an eye opener, and insight into our essential yet underfunded and overstretched NHS.

After the first 22 pages, I took the book downstairs where it became my day time read. I could laugh out loud all I wanted to it, and also shed a tear as it is genuinely devastating in parts. I’ve finished the book now, but have gone back to it and from time to time read the funny bits to my partner and son which always raises a laugh. I have come to ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ late but I’m glad I did because it’s been a fantastic and uplifting addition to my time in lockdown.”
This is going to hurt is available to borrow as an audiobook and ebook.

Tell us what you’ve been reading in lockdown and how it’s helped.


Friday book quiz: round 3 (the answers)

The answers to the third round in the Friday book quiz from the Library Resource Management Team are below.

1. From which language is the novel “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” translated?
a) French
b) Czech
c) Italian

2. With which title did Salman Rushdie win the Booker prize?
a) Moor’s Last Sigh
b) Satanic verses
c) Midnight’s Children

3. In what publication was Wilkie Collins’ novel “The Woman in White” first serialised?
a) All the Year Round 
b) Bentley’s Miscellany
c) Household Words


4. What is the profession of C.J. Sansom’s character Shardlake?
a) Doctor
b) Lawyer
c) Soldier

5. Olive Kitteridge is married to a
a) Pharmacist
b) Teacher
c) Piano player


6. Complete the title of Sue Black’s book “All that remains”
a) A life in death
b) Life after death
c) Death is not the end

7. What is the name of the Labrador in Kate Atkinson’s novel “Big Sky”
a) Hercules
b) Barney
c) Dido

8. Who features in “Elizabeth is Missing”?
a) Maud
b) Eleanor
c) Sybil

9. In “His Bloody Project” by Graeme Macrae Burnet from what village is Roderick Macrae?
a) Cullen
b) Culbokie
c) Culduie

10. In which novel by Jane Austen does the following quote appear?
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid”.
a) Persuasion
b) Northanger Abbey
c) Sense and Sensibility

Friday book quiz: round 2 (the answers)

The answers to round two of the Friday book quiz are revealed below. Come back on Friday for round three.

1. Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South – in which novel?
a) Where the crawdads sing
b) Queenie
c) An American marriage 

2. Which creature features in the title of this Maja Lunde’s novel?
The history of people
b) The history of bees
c) The history of unicorns

3. “A natural” deals with the struggles of a young footballer, the author is?
a) Ross Raisin
b) Andy Apple
c) Fraser Fish

4. “Stories of the law and how it’s broken” is the subtitle of which novel?
Crime and punishment
b) The cases of Taggart
c) The secret barrister 

5. Which novel deals with the disappearance of three pupils from Appleyard College and the aftermath from this?
Ghost wall
b) The Van Apfel girls are gone
c) Picnic at hanging rock 

6. The “Salt path” by Raynor Winn follows the coastal path from where in the UK?
a) Somerset to Dorset 
b) Kent to Hampshire
c) Lincolnshire to Northumbria

7. Witold Pilecki is the subject of which award winning book by Jack Fairweather?
a) The survivor
b) The volunteer 
c) The hero

8. Which of the following is the title of a novel by Charlie Mackesy
The boy, the fox, the badger and the horse
b) The boy, the goldfish, the fox and the horse
c) The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse 

9. Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are the main characters in which novel by Hallie Rubenhold?
The girls
b) The five 
c) The circle

10. Which workplace features in the title of this Joanne Ramos novel?
a) The farm
b) The office
c) The factory

Hundreds of books delivered to vulnerable Edinburgh families in isolation

Families with vulnerable children who are shielding at home in Edinburgh are to have hundreds of books delivered to their doorsteps thanks to a new charity partnership.

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) – which supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children – has teamed up with Edinburgh Libraries to help children and their siblings feed their imaginations while shielding for 12 weeks.

Edinburgh Libraries’ Book Bus

With libraries currently closed, Edinburgh Libraries has made available a Book Bus filled with around 1800 books for children and young people to ECHC. The bus will be stationed at the charity’s office, where volunteer delivery drivers will collect book packages and deliver them to local families who are known to the Sick Kids hospital on a regular basis. Through the book deliveries, the charity aims to bring fun and distraction to children and to help improve their mental wellbeing during lockdown.

The book delivery service has also been made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from Baillie Gifford.

Caroline Leishman has been shielding her family of three boys for eight weeks as her youngest son is on active treatment for Leukaemia.

She said: “Coming up with new and exciting ways to keep everyone occupied and distracted while also looking after a clinically vulnerable child becomes a little bit harder as each week goes by.

“It was such a relief when the book parcel from ECHC arrived on our doorstep. The kids were so excited to open it and discover all the new books they had to read which gave us some much needed breathing space!

“Books are such a wonderful resource for children who are shielding. They let their imaginations run wild so they can go on all sorts of fantastic adventures without ever leaving the safety of home.”

Book bags ready to be delivered

Roslyn Neely, CEO of ECHC, said: “We know from our work in the hospital that taking part in fun and creative activities that feed the imagination is the best way to take away children’s fear and feelings of isolation when they are unwell.

“It must be unimaginably tough for children and their siblings having to shield at home when they already face significant health challenges. We know the power of storytelling and the benefits that brings to children in hospital so we’re positive it will have the same effect in the home.

“We believe that nothing should get in the way of being a child. Even though they can’t physically be out and about in the world right now, children have a huge appetite for adventure and there’s a whole world of creativity and magic in their imaginations.

“Bringing books to their doorsteps through this wonderful partnership with Edinburgh Libraries is a great way to ensure they still have access to that. We’re also so grateful to Baillie Gifford for their sponsorship and to all our volunteer drivers for making this possible.”

City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: “We’re delighted we can help families known to the Sick Kids and thanks to our library team who have been superb. One of our mobile libraries is filled with about 1,800 children’s books so what better way of putting these books to good use.

“Books are a wonderful resource and will really help families having to self-isolate in their homes for 12 weeks. Reading as a family is a joy and can help to improve well-being – a recent study found that six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by 60%. This is a great example showing how working together with partners in the city can respond to the needs of our communities.”

Book deliveries are one of a number of things that ECHC is doing to support children and families during the pandemic, all of which are being delivered safely in line with government restrictions during this time. All books that are returned to the Book Bus will be held on board for 72 hours for infection control before being recirculated.

Staff preparing the Book bus and bags

The charity is also distributing Emergency Care Packs of food and essential supplies, toiletries and arts and activity items. Families known to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children who would like any of the emergency care packs on offer are asked to contact Leigh at ECHC on 0131 668 4949 or

If you wish, you can make a donation to ECHC’s Emergency COVID-19 Appeal online.

What libraries mean to me with Val McDermid

Crime writer Val McDermid is a perpetual favourite with Edinburgh Library borrowers. Her books, with their atmospheric covers and poetic titles, tell stories of crime, justice and retribution in Scotland. She has also written an updated Jane Austen novel, set during the Edinburgh Festival, Northanger Abbey, and picture book My Granny is a Pirate.

A long term champion of books and libraries, here McDermid tells us what libraries mean to her, and why the written word is what will ultimately carry us through.

Val McDermid, photograph by KT Bruce

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
When I go in to the library with my borrower’s card, I feel like Little Jack Horner with his pudding and pie – I stick in my thumb and pull out a plum! There’s always a moment where I encounter something new, and that’s half of the pleasure of reading.

As a writer, libraries have been a huge part of learning my craft. Not just by experiencing the work of other writers and stealing their tricks, but also as a place for research. I started publishing back in the days before Google, when research meant physically searching reference sections, calling up books from the stacks and inter-library loans. And there are still times when only a library will do. Newspaper archives, for example, are a nightmare to search online. The indices of historical biographies lead to all sorts of interesting paths! So I still see them as a valuable resource.

What is your earliest library memory?
When I was a toddler in Kirkcaldy, my mum used to push me across our sprawling council estate to the Templehall Library where she would read me picture books and nursery rhymes.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
I’m frustrated because I’ve got an idea for something new and I need the National Library of Scotland’s archives to help me develop it.

For regular library users, I’d recommend discovering what digital resources your library offers – audio books, ebooks etc. Find an online book group that shares your tastes, or challenge yourself with one that doesn’t!

The hard thing is finding something to compensate for the social life of the library. These days, libraries offer so much more than access to books!

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
Even the First Minister, a devotee of fiction, is admitting to finding it a struggle right now. I’m doing a mix of old favourites and the new books that still keep arriving through my letter box. What always works when all else fails are short stories. You’ll find all sorts of treats here. Favourite authors often have collections of short stories, and I return to Ali Smith, Katherine Mansfield, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Isaac Asimov and PG Wodehouse regularly, among several others. And perhaps the perfect book for right now is James Robertson’s 365 – a story a day for a year, each one exactly 365 words long!

This question is from Bronwen who runs the Art and Design Library, and is connected to the question above. Is it better to read a challenging book or a comforting one at this time?
It’s a matter for personal choice. Read what you fancy, is my motto. And if a book hasn’t grabbed you by page 20, swap it for something that does! I’m enjoying a mix of comfort and challenge right now, and unusually for me, I’ve got a couple of books on the go at once. One of which is always either an old friend or a new book from an author I know I can trust!

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I am writing – this is the time of year when I always write the current book. But I am making slower progress than usual. It’s harder to concentrate for long periods, I find. At this time of year, I do very few events normally so I can concentrate on writing. But paradoxically, this year I have had more calls on my time than ever before!

Most of us are taking advantage of the daily outside exercise where we can. I find I’m noticing things I’d not picked up on before. A writing exercise I’d suggest is composing a few paragraphs – or a poem, if that’s what you prefer – about something you’ve noticed on your walk, run or bike ride. If you can’t get outdoors, spend some time looking out of the window, paying attention to what or who you see. Writing about something outside yourself offers more resources – and it can also be a useful way of reflecting your thoughts and feelings.

How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
Social media is doing a great job of making us feel connected, and of forming new connections. But it’s not a replacement for human company and contact. Screen time is also, strangely, more tiring than face-to-face encounters. However, making the most of what it can do will carry us through this. And when it’s all over, we will appreciate old – and new – friends so much more.

In the meantime, the written word can be our comfort and our companion.

With huge thanks to Val McDermid and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.

Friday book quiz – round 1

Just for fun, our Library Resource Management Team have set you a quick book quiz!

The answers will be revealed on Monday’s blog. And come back next Friday for another round of questions.

1. Which of the following is a book by David Peace, author of “The damned united”?
a) Patient X
Ground zero
Guinea pig

2. “The house by the loch” is a title by which Scottish personality?
Sarah Smith
b) Kirsty Wark
c) Chris Hoy

3. Which of the following is a title by Elif Shafak?
a) 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world
b) 10 minutes 39 seconds in this strange world
c) 10 minutes 40 seconds in this strange world

4. What is the missing word from the title of this Doug Johnstone book, “A dark “?
b) Chocolate
c) Matter 

5. According to Oyinkan Braithewaite who is a serial killer?
a) My brother
b) My sister
c) My mother

6. What colour of coat does the man have in the recent title by Julian Barnes?
b) Blue
c) Red

7. According to Manda Scott, what do you call a group of spies?
a) A cloak of spies
b) A treachery of spies
A zone of spies

8. From which scandinavian country does Thomas Erikson, the author of “surrounded by idiots”, come from?
a) Sweden
b) Denmark
c) Norway

9. Which Adrian Tchaikovsky novel is described here: “Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity. Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, survivor”?
a) Cage of souls
b) Children of ruin
c) Walking to Aldebaran

10. Jean McConville is the subject of which book by Patrick Keefe?
a) Do nothing
b) Say nothing
c) Hear nothing

What libraries mean to me with Douglas Wright

In our latest Q & A session we talk to Douglas Wright, library adviser in the Music and Art and Design team at Central Library.

Douglas Wright from the Music and Art and Design team.

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a music lover, musician and reader?
It is a bit of a cliche to say that a library gives you a world of choice or enables you to chose from the world, but it does. You can choose to be with old friends or make new ones. The old friends are the novels and classics that we all return to, to read or listen to, time and again or the new friends like the Sean O’Boyle’s Concerto for Digeridoo found on Naxos.

We use Naxos streaming service at work and I also use it at home. What I have noticed that I have in common with my colleagues in the Music Department is, when we switch on Naxos I the morning we go to the ‘Recently Added’ page and just choose anything from there. Often they are great treats like the Digeradoo Concerto but sometimes we are forced to think again. Like a Beatles /Bach Mash up which didn’t make it to my playlist.

As a music lover I have been part of a team who have been able to promote live music making in the library. We have also had many author talks by musicians or on musical topics, all of which have been a thrill to be part of. The team’s involvement in Make Music Day 2019 was a highlight, I think, for us all. Make Music Day 2019 was also the first time I had played my Ukulele in public and the first time in a long time I had done anything as a musician.

It was nice to dip my toe.

The biggest thing the library has done for me is introduce me to ebooks and I am a huge convert. For the past five years my wife and I have kept a list of our reading for the year. I have always tried to source all my books from my library but I look first to see if we have a copy of the book I wish to read on Overdrive, our ebook service, so I can have it on my phone and effectively have it with me all the time. I have just made myself aware that I have my music, my ebooks and my audiobooks on my phone so I carry the library or a library with me all the time, I think I need to question my own reliance on my phone, but that’s for another day.

What is your earliest library memory?
I was born and lived in Park Road, Kelvinbridge in Glasgow till I was eighteen. Kelvinbridge which is in between St. George’s Cross, Hillhead and Maryhill. On Saturday mornings, we, my Mum, Dad and brother would walk the short distance to St. George’s Cross in Glasgow where we would shop, pay bills, pay some money to my dad’s tailor account and then go to Woodside Library which was beside Jimmy Logan’s Metropole Theatre. My Mum and Dad would leave us in the children’s section and go and choose their selection for the week. I seem to remember that we had three tickets so we would make our small selection which at that time, for me, were books like Paddington, The Wombles and The Famous Five. From then on, I have a sketchy relationship with libraries.

Drifting in and out of love with them, spending years never going near one and then at other times never being out of them.

My relationship with Central Library really started when I had children and started using the Children’s Library. My children are now 26 and 22 so that was a little while ago. Often, if we were all at the library I would sneak downstairs to the Music Library and then as the children got older, we would all sneak downstairs, to chose our music.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
There are many things I am struggling with and without at the moment. I have to say until asked that question, the Library or a library was not one of them. Now thinking about it, I think it is the thing I have been trying not to think about, I have been for the past few weeks distracting myself with things, tasks and ‘shiny objects’. Trying not to think about that bit of my day that’s missing, my ‘normal’. I have gone down a bit of a road there and to try now and get back to the things, tasks and shiny objects.

I have not been reading as much as I did but I have discovered the joy of audiobooks. I installed the BorrowBox and uLIBRARY apps and have listened to a number of books, which allows me to potter about our flat, as Bing Crosby says, “busy doing nothing working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do”. So the advice would be, always listen to Bing, he will know what to do. I try not to throw advice about, there are people worth listening to, and that’s not me. Seriously, Bing, listen to him.

I am not a great fan of the 21st century, despite my increasing reliance on my phone, and it is not great for me – as a Library adviser who is there to look after and ready our physical collection for our membership to borrow – it is not great for me to say that we have a wonderful set of services online with a lot of those services able to answer to your needs 24 hours a day. We do, and for a lot of people, they have never been more important.

Having said all that, one thing that is said to us, the Music and Art and Design team, most often, is how much people, our membership, enjoy dealing with a person, in the library. That is of no solace at this time and if we are struggling without our library, the only real consolation we can have is that this will end, and hopefully for most of us it will end peacefully and will return to something nearer to a kind of normal.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to soothe by reflecting our emotions but also to challenge – what do you recommend as a music lover to those that are struggling?
One person’s soothing balm is another’s annoyance, So recommending something comes with dangers. My go-to favourites might not be to other people’s liking. I might pick Shostakovich who offers beautiful tunes within edgy, prickly, early 20th century Russian angst, but that is not everybody’s taste. I am also quite stuck with classical music, well, classical music from the romantic era. I once heard John Amis, music critic and broadcaster, talking about music and putting forward the thought that, as one ages music lovers gravitate more to Mozart and leave the youthful romantics in their past. I am about to enter my 59th year and I am still waiting to appreciate Mozart.

The great classical/Romantic composer of my choice would be that lovable cranky, cantankerous, angry, curmudgeon Beethoven. All things I aspire to be – cranky, cantankerous, curmudgeonly and angry – I look forward to all of those traits in my unapologetic dotage.

I have also been pushing myself to other genres, I have tried and enjoyed some of the works of Miles Davis, jazz trumpet legend and I have, strangely, for the past few months, been listening to country music. Recently, I watched a major BBC 4 documentary series on country music and I listened to some of the artists featured in that. That could, of course, be a throwback to my father’s record collection, which included country and western, folk and some dodgy sectarian accordion bands.

On Radio 4, there is a segment of a show called ‘Inheritance Tracks’ in which people describe a piece of music which has been handed down to them and which they hand on to someone they love. I am pleased to say that I have already achieved that with a song by Johnny Cash, the great country and western singer/songwriter, called “A Boy Named SUE” which I got from my father. I played this to my son years ago and he loved it and thought it funny, and it is still on one of his play lists.

Whichever way you inherit your music there are pieces of music which are given to you, which you connect with, somebody or something or an event or a time, place when you were happy, sad, anxious. A song which evokes a memory of a loved one or a beloved thing or in my case I song I sang whilst nappy changing.

Music tinged with emotions which perhaps might be too strong to be dealt with at this time. Can I say the best piece of advice I was ever given was, never listen to advice. Although, that was said about child rearing, but apply it to your music choices. Go to our Naxos website and chose the first CD cover that jumps out at you not because you have heard of the composer or artist but because the CD cover is yellow like the sun or it has your favourite word in the title.

I am reluctant to suggest anything except, try anything, and if you don’t like it, try something else and keep trying till you find the things, book, songs, symphonies, opera which will be your new or old friends.

Are you listening to music just now? What are you listening to? What would you recommend as a way through?
This is now going to be a large cop out, I am listening to music at the moment but I realised I haven’t actually chosen anything. I have been listening to BBC Radio 3 or to Classic FM, so, letting others choose for me and it has been wonderful. I have listened to a programme about building your CD library, one which was focused on the wonderful Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky, a work I had forgotten I had studied years ago for my Higher Music and I was amazed how much I remembered. I listened to a strange production of an Opera by Cherubini. Lunchtime concerts of string music and operas in the afternoon. At this very moment the Bavarian Radio Chorus are singing Alfred Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns, which I would never have chosen but are sublime. Morning request programmes with music from classics to Romantics to American Minimalists.

How can we connect as librarians, borrowers, readers and musicians just now when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement or do we need more? How can music help to overcome this?
There are parts of this question to which I really don’t know the answer, if there is an answer.

I think, we continue to be a part of the things that are already happening, online groups, concerts, being part of doing things collectively but separately.

Music always unifies in some way and will find a way to be part of the healing we will all go through.

It seems, everything which is happening at the moment requires some kind of social media, it concerns me there are people without access to all that is going on, for whatever reason and their isolation may be even greater. For me, social media is only ever a tool, a little bit of all the things we do. I have been trying and failing, to write something about all the things that social media is and isn’t, all the things it does and the things it doesn’t do. I have ranted and railed, agreed and disagreed. Scrubbed out and started again. All I have come up with is, what it doesn’t do, is let me pick up my granddaughter when she falls over in her back yard, me, like millions of other grandparents in the world, but it does allow us to see her and hear her and sing with her. Until we are all together again, it will have to do.

With many thanks to Douglas for sharing his thoughts on what libraries and music mean to him. 

What libraries mean to me with Helen Martin

In today’s library Q & A session, we ask Music library borrower, Helen Martin what libraries mean to her.

Helen Martin

As librarian and singer with the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, my job is to source music for every concert.  As soon as I am told what music is required, my first stop is the Music Library at Central Library. I’ve been librarian for three years now, and am becoming more knowledgeable as I progress, but the Music Library staff have been such a great help, a source of information, and very patient with the mistakes that I have made along the way.  I have to ensure that the edition is correct, and sometimes there are other considerations – the Music Library helps out every time.  They have also been a great help on the rare occasions when they have been unable to source something for me, in pointing me in the right direction.

Edinburgh Royal Choral Union practising

What do libraries mean to you as a music lover and reader?
I have always been a supporter of libraries, and love the easy access to books and music that the libraries provide.  I also enjoy the atmosphere in libraries, the bustle and hum of people reading, looking at books, etc.  I do a number of activities that require access to song books, and again, the Music Library has been a great help and source of what I require.

What is your earliest library memory?
As a child and a teenager, it was always wonderful to have a constant source of books at my disposal.  I was an avid reader, and without libraries, this would have been impossible to do, without access to libraries.  There wasn’t extra money in our household to buy books.

Are you struggling to cope without a library?
I am missing access to the library, but happily over the years have built up a reasonable collection of books, so I have enough reading material to keep me going.  It is also a good opportunity to reread some of the classics, or indeed catch up with some that have passed me by.  People are being inventive at this challenging time – there is a book exchange going on in a street near me, with books being put out in the garden for people to take.  I haven’t used it, but I’m sure it is a help to people struggling.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to sooth ….
Are you listening to music just now?
Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (ERCU) has set up a ERCU Facebook page where as well as posting messages, people are putting links to various concerts, YouTube videos, etc.  The Royal Scottish National Orchestra have been streaming concerts on their Friday Night Club, on YouTube, and I greatly enjoyed, amongst other things, Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 Organ, featuring our Chorus Director, Michael Bawtree playing the organ.  I also enjoyed their Brahms German Requiem, which we sang a few years ago.

We have been watching the nightly streamed opera from The Met, which has been fantastic.

There are lots of opportunities to watch different performances online at the moment, which definitely help during these difficult times.  I’m greatly missing my choir, but social media, and these different events are a comfort.

How can we connect when the Library is closed? Can social media be a replacement?
I don’t think social media can be a replacement for the wonderful work done by libraries, although it can be a help.  Perhaps, like the ERCU Facebook page, there can be recommendations and links put out by the Music Library of things they think their readers might enjoy.  But we miss you, and look forward to seeing you again, when things finally get back to normal.

Many thanks again for all that you do.

With huge thanks to Helen for talking to us about what libraries mean to her.

What libraries mean to me with Claire Askew

In our second library Q & A session, we ask author Claire Askew what libraries mean to her. Claire’s first novel, All the Hidden Truths looks at what would happen if (God forbid) there was a Columbine style college shooting in Edinburgh. Her second novel, What You Pay For explores conflicts between family and duty, love and morality, and doing the right thing, when everything seems wrong. Both feature the same detective, DI Helen Birch.
Look out for the third book in the series, Cover Your Tracks, coming soon in August 2020.

Claire is also an award winning poet, a teacher and a witch. She lives in Edinburgh. She is currently working on her fourth novel and can be found on Twitter as @onenightstanzas 

Claire Askew

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
I’ve been a library lover ever since I was a small child, when my mum would take me to the library most days (though she usually corrects me: I took her to the library, she had little choice in the matter!) But Edinburgh City Libraries will always be extra special to me, because I worked for a year as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion in 2016/17 and was lucky enough to meet so many fantastic readers, locals, visitors, and library staff.

I worked mostly out of Craigmillar Library, but could sometimes be found in Portobello Library too. I’d always believed libraries were essential to communities, but that year’s placement really opened my eyes to just how vital library services are. In Craigmillar, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the library is at the heart of everything, for everyone aged 0 to 100+. It’s not just a place to access books: it’s Bookbug sessions and weekend breakfasts for kids and game club and knitting group and so much more besides.

What is your earliest library memory?
When I was little, my brother and I convinced my parents to get a puppy. Millie, the black Labrador, was adorable but completely un-trainable, it seemed. My mum borrowed a book from the library called “How to House Train Your Puppy.” I vividly remember having to go back to the library to apologise profusely and pay for a replacement: Millie had peed all over the book!

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
I live in Stockbridge, and have been moping forlornly past the closed doors of Stockbridge Library on my daily walks. But I’m lucky: I don’t rely on the library to access the internet or to see friends – I know that some folk will be really, really missing those services! But I’m taking comfort in simple activities like re-reading old favourite books, writing in a journal, and knitting. I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to ‘use this time well,’ and I wish we could all just focus more on getting through this in whatever way feels best to each of us. It’s really hard when you’re missing out on essential parts of your life, but hang in there, be safe, and do what makes you feel happy.

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
I’m struggling to read, too, and I’m allowing myself to revert to ‘easier’ reads and ignoring my ‘to read’ pile! I’ve gone back to my favourite teen read, in fact: Soul Music by Terry Pratchett! I’ve read it so many times in the last twenty years that I know it practically off by heart, but it’s an old friend and feels very comforting right now. I know because we’ve all got lots more time it’s tempting to think ‘I ought to finally get round to reading War and Peace, or some other massive tome’ – but it’s probably a better idea to read something escapist and fun that doesn’t feel like a task!

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I’m writing a little, but only a little. I do have a novel I need to finish (the fourth in the DI Birch series,) but I’m going easy on myself. Even if I only write a sentence or two a day, that’s still progress in the right direction.

I’m taking a lot of comfort from writing a journal, too, though, and particularly from trying to make a daily gratitude list. At the end of every day I write down three things I’m grateful for.

Sometimes they’re big things like being grateful for having had another day of good health; sometimes they’re small things like being grateful I spotted a cute dog out of my window!

I’d really recommend it as an exercise – it helps me remember there are still good things in the world!

How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
Other than social media – which is seeing all sorts of exciting things happening at the moment, from Zoom poetry readings to online book clubs – it’s hard to know what else to do!

I have liked hearing what other people are reading, though, and I’ve wondered about the potential for mass read-alongs. There are mass watch-alongs of movies and Netflix shows happening online, where people all watch a movie at the same time and then chat about it afterwards. Could we do a slower version, with books, maybe?

With many thanks to Claire and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.

What Libraries mean to me with Ever Dundas

Edinburgh Libraries does a Question and Answer session with local writer Ever Dundas, author of Goblin (published by Saraband).

Ever Dundas

What do libraries (including Edinburgh Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
I don’t earn much as a writer, which is how it is for many writers – we usually have to supplement our income with the full-time freelance hustle, or a full or part-time ‘day’ job, and fit writing around that. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do this as I have ME and fibromyalgia (I did have a part-time job, but had to give it up as I wasn’t coping and it was making me even more ill). Because of this, I can’t always afford to buy new books, so the library is an amazing resource. There’s something so very anti-capitalist about libraries (which is probably why they’re constantly under attack) – all these resources available to us for free.

It’s one of those rare buildings you can enter and know it doesn’t matter how much you earn. I’m able to get books to read for pleasure and books for research for my writing projects and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

As a writer, it’s an absolute joy to see my own book on the shelves in a building that means so much to me, and to know that people who might not earn much are able to access it. Also, I’m not sure if members of the public know about this, but there’s a scheme called Public Lending Right (PLR) where authors can register and they earn a few pence every time someone takes their book out, so you’re still helping authors financially via supporting your local library.

What is your earliest library memory?
The classroom library in my primary school. I remember picking up books by Nicholas Fisk (I was obsessed with space at the time, so I loved the Starstormers series). I also picked up A Box of Nothing by Peter Dickinson, which is still a firm favourite. If I could have skipped all lessons to sit in the corner reading, I would have.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?

Central Library

I badly miss the library. It was a real comfort to me. I enjoyed the short walk through the bustling streets (which are now very eerie), and entering that huge, beautiful building always made me happy. I also loved when Hope was on shift – before I got to know her a bit better and learned she’s a writer too, she’d always cheer me with her greetings. The library staff are a big part of what makes the library the welcoming place it is and I really appreciate their skills and expertise.

I’m trying to use the library closure as an opportunity to get through my massive to-read piles at home. For anyone who doesn’t have a massive to-read pile, you can still get ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and newspapers from the library, so it’s still a great resource. But I know a lot of people will be missing the physical library – it was a real haven.

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
I’m currently reading an academic book I got my paws on in the recent Palgrave sale – Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out, edited by Ruth Heholt and Melissa Edmundson. It has a chapter by Timothy C Baker that looks at Companion Animals in Contemporary Scottish Women’s Gothic Fiction, focussing on my novel Goblin, Elspeth Barker’s O Caledonia, and Alice Thompson’s The Falconer. I haven’t yet read Thompson’s book, but since reading Barker’s I’m evangelical about it and it’s a real shame it’s out of print – it’s not available as an ebook, but when the libraries reopen I highly recommend getting a hold of it.

Ever’s to-read pile

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Gothic Animals – especially the chapter on Patricia Highsmith and her snails (apparently she smuggled her pet snails in and out of the country in her bra, and she would take a bag of snails and a lettuce to social events – this makes me love her even more).

I’ve also been reading Planetarium, which is an utterly gorgeous book in the ‘Welcome to the Museum’ series. I’ve been losing myself in it before going to bed and finding it very soothing. It’s funny how feeling insignificant in the context of the solar system can be so comforting.

If you’re struggling to read, short stories might be easier to concentrate on. Or comics/graphic novels (I highly recommend everything by Charles Burns and Emil Ferris’ My Favourite Thing Is Monsters). Or now might be the time to try an audiobook if you’ve never done so before.

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I’ve been struggling a bit, to be honest, but that’s partly because I’ve been having one fibro & ME flare-up after another this past month. It’s mostly the flu-like exhaustion rather than the chronic pain, and it can be incredibly frustrating as it’s hard to get things done. But I’m doing OK at the moment, and I’m enjoying this interview – it’s giving me some space to reflect.

I had planned to write a diary, but I’ve been a bit scuppered by flare-ups, and I’ve been using the rest of my time to try and get some work-related things done. But I think externalising your feelings in that way can be very therapeutic, so I recommend it if you’re feeling stressed by current events.

How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
I think social media and blogs are useful ways of connecting, although I’m aware that some people won’t have computers or online access and that the physical presence of the library offered that to many. I think current events shows how important and necessary internet access is, and that it’s not some out-there socialist utopia to provide it to everyone.

As someone who is disabled, I’ve talked a lot about making the world (and the publishing industry in particular) more accessible, so it’s been both wonderful and bittersweet to see so many things move online, when disabled people have been pushing for this for so long. I hope, when we come out the other side of this, accessibility will be taken more seriously – it’s not niche. It’s a human right. It’s sad that it’s taken something like this for ableds to realise that. Things can’t go back to ‘normal’ after this. The status quo isn’t good enough.

So I do think blogs and social media are important. Many disabled people find it can be a real lifeline for them, and I generally have no time for simplistic anti-social media sentiments – it’s ableist.

I think the written word is incredibly important right now – in terms of political activism, but also for escapism. I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty for needing some escapism in times like this – if it can help get you through, that’s what matters. The arts saved me many times throughout my life.

With huge thanks to Ever and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.


Dekko Comics

Edinburgh Libraries are proud to announce that we are bringing Dekko comics to all our community branches. Set up in 2016 Dekko turned KS2 educational content into engaging comic strips, helping break down barriers to reading and learning. This is especially true for Autism and Dyslexia.

They come in a Dyslexia friendly font and feature colour-coding and footnotes, and are recommended for late primary, early secondary age children, although Glasgow University did recommend them as refresher material for pupils starting university.

The comics cover English, Maths, History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French and German. Please note that Dekko comics will only be available to read in branch.

Read more about Dekko Comics here


Meet the author event: Ambrose Parry

On the 16th October we will be hosting a special author event in the historic Central Library. Come along to the Reference Library to hear Ambrose Parry (Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman), discussing their new novel The Art of Dying. This is the second collaboration from this husband and wife team, following the hugely successful The Way of All Flesh. Their collaboration has created truly addictive historical crime novels, filled with period detail recreating a real feel of Victorian Edinburgh.

Ambrose Parry (AKA Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman)

Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based.

The Art of Dying is set in 1840’s Edinburgh, which was at the forefront of modern medicine, thanks in part to Dr James Simpson’s discovery of chloroform. However, when one of Simpson’s patients is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the medical elite, wary of his growing fame, point to Simpson’s reckless use of chloroform as the cause. With their friend’s reputation in peril, Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher team up to discover the unthinkable truth behind the dead patient as they try to clear Simpson’s name.

Reference Library

This is a late addition to our Libraries Week programme, the theme of which is “Celebrating libraries in a digital world”. We wanted to feature an author who was hugely popular on our ebook and audiobook platforms and Ambrose Parry fitted the bill perfectly! Their first book The Way of All Flesh is available for unlimited downloads in ebook format through OverDrive and audiobook format on RBdigital and has been downloaded over 400 times by our readers. The Art of Dying is now also available as an ebook on OverDrive and in audio format on BorrowBox.

This free event will run from 7-8.20pm on Wednesday 16th October. Booking is essential. Tickets can be booked at EventBrite and the talk from will be followed by a book signing.

Teen Titles party

On Thursday the 22nd of August, the Reference Library was the place to be, as it played host to Edinburgh Libraries’ annual celebration of our Teen Titles magazine.

Started way back in 1993 before some of our current reviewers were even born, Teen Titles is our magazine that is jam packed with honest, unedited, unbiased reviews written by Edinburgh school pupils of the newest young adult, fiction and nonfiction books. Its aim is to promote reading in a fun way that appeals to young people. Published three times a year, glossy editions of Teen Titles are issued free to all City of Edinburgh Council secondary schools and libraries.

Every year during the Edinburgh International Book Festival the pupil reviewers are invited, along with their school librarians to the event at the Central Library to meet with authors (some local, some in town for the festival).

A welcoming speech was given by Head of Libraries Paul McCloskey and then the young reviewers heard from popular local author Linda Strachan who encouraged them to take advantage of the situation and speak to the gathered authors in the relaxed setting. Throw in a badgemaker, a photo booth, some fancy nibbles and a great time was had by all.

Same time next year?

If you would like to find out more about subscribe to Teen Titles magazine see our information page.


Get ready for the Space Chase!

Edinburgh City Libraries are calling on children across Edinburgh to take part in The Reading Agency’s 2019 Summer Reading Challenge, Space Chase!

Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Space Chase will see children team up with the futuristic family, the Rockets, for an exciting space mission – tracking down books stolen by a mischievous band of aliens. As part of the challenge, children are asked to borrow and read any six library books over the summer.

Each library book read for the challenge, gains a sticker (some even have mysterious smells) to help children and the Rockets solve clues, dodge asteroids and find the missing books.  There will also be lots of fun and adventure along the way! As well as visiting your local library to borrow books, you can also borrow books online through our OverDrive Kids service – look out for the Space Chase online collection!

To take part in this year’s challenge, come to your local library to sign up and receive your challenge card to keep a record of your Summer Reading Challenge journey. Look out too for events and activities in your local library over the summer holidays to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge.



This summer’s Big Library Read

Travel through history along with millions of readers during Big Library Read, the world’s largest digital book club! From 17th June – 1st July, book-lovers can borrow LP Fergusson’s harrowing wartime love story, A Dangerous Act of Kindness, from Edinburgh Libraries OverDrive service as an ebook with no waitlists or holds.

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore. It tells the story of widow Millie Sanger, who finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm during World War II. Compassionate Millie knows Lukas will be killed if discovered and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm. On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War II forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.

The ebook will be available on the home page of Libby/OverDrive apps and the OverDrive website from the 17th June and with unlimited downloads is perfect for discussing with your friends and family. You can also join an online conversation about the book at and if you use #biglibraryread on social media you’ll be entered into a draw to win a Kobo Aura H20 ebook reader! All you need is library membership so you can login with your library card and PIN. Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

Reading Rainbows launch 2019

Around 1,200 four-year-olds across the capital will receive two brand new books each, specially chosen to inspire children to read and share stories.

Reading Rainbows, aims to spark a love of reading amongst under-fives, giving them the best start when they begin school.

Reading Rainbows launch 2019 at Muirhouse Library

The initiative is also designed to support parents and carers to share books and stories with their children, encouraging them to think about sharing books together and to visit libraries more often.

On Thursday 16 May, children from Forthview and Pirniehall nurseries visited Muirhouse Library to receive their Reading Rainbow packs from Councillor Alison Dickie – Vice Convener for education, Children and Famillies. The packs included two brand new books – ‘Everybunny Count!’ by Ellie Sandall and ‘This Zoo is Not for You’ by Ross Collins and enjoyed a visit from Cool Creatures, where they got a chance to meet some new friends up close.

Cool Creatures visit at Reading Rainbows launch

Reading Rainbows is a joint library and Early Years initiative focusing on areas of disadvantage across the city.  It addresses the fact that, in Scotland, children receive free book packs between birth and the age of three and once they turn five from the Scottish Book Trust, but nothing when they are four.

By supplying free literacy gift packs, including two books, a white board and marker and a literacy advice pack for parents and carers, as well as story and craft events, we aim to impact children’s literacy development.

Cool Creatures visit at Reading Rainbows launch

Big Library Read – Digital Book Group

We’ll be having another Big Library Read from 1st-15th April on OverDrive! Unlimited people can download the ebook version of this very topical autobiography called  Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung. Read the story of Abu Bakr who along with his family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life, but they moved to Syria – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone – and eventually found safety in Canada.

The ebook will be available on the home page of the OverDrive website and Libby/OverDrive apps from the 1st April and with unlimited downloads is perfect for discussing with your friends and family. You can join an online conversation about the book at All you need is library membership so you can login with your library card and PIN. Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

Book Week Scotland is coming!

Book Week Scotland is only a week away and the excitement is mounting! There are some fantastic literary events and activities taking place in Edinburgh libraries and school libraries during the week, Monday 19 – Sunday 25 November.

Check out our programme below and grab your tickets fast!

War is Over reading to coincide with Armistice Day
There will be a reading from ‘War is Over’ by David Almond to coincide with the Armistice Day commemorations. There will also be a colouring competition which will include a prize.
Muirhouse Library, Friday 16 November at 3.30pm

Rebel Art activity for children and young people
Come along to Drumbrae Library to help create a graffiti style art banner that will be displayed in the library for the duration of Book Week Scotland. There will also be an ongoing ‘Rebel Art’ station in place in the library for the week where people can add to the artwork and leave comments.
Drumbrae Library, Monday 19 November at 6pm (and then all week).

Wird Hunt!
According to the last national census, around 1.5 million people in Scotland can speak Scots. The Dictionar o the Scots Leid is the definitive record of their vocabulary.
The ‘Wird Hunt!’ exhibition will illuminate the Dictionar’s history as well as that of the language itself. Learn how the Dictionar’s makers keep track of the language in their day-to-day work and discover how their vast collection of quotations richly illustrate a centuries-long tradition of writing in Scots.
Want to help make the Dictionar even bigger and better? ‘Wird Hunt!’ also provides a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with the editors to identify new evidence of Scots vocabulary from a collection of present-day Scots books and poems.
Wester Hailes Library, Tuesday 20 November, 1 – 7pm
Free drop-in activity for adults, refreshments (teas, coffees & biscuits) provided

Memories of Early Granton
The Storytelling Centre and Granton Library are presenting ‘Memories of Early Granton’. Come along and listen to stories about early Granton and, if you’d like to, share a story of your own.
Granton Library, Tuesday 20 November, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Free event, tea and coffee provided

Stuart MacBride – The Blood Road
From Granite City to Auld Reekie – Morningside Library is delighted to welcome Stuart MacBride, creator of Aberdeen’s D.C.I. Logan McRae, as he swaps the oil capital of Europe for Scotland’s City of Literature to promote his latest book, ‘The Blood Road’.
Morningside Library, Tuesday 20 November at 7pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

Wird Hunt!
Another chance to contribute to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid.
Leith Library, Wednesday 21 November, 1 – 7pm
Free drop-in activity for adults

Sam Conniff Allende – Be more pirate, or, How to take on the world and win 
‘Be More Pirate’ reveals the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates, and updates them into clear solutions for making your mark on the 21st Century. Sam has been a mentor to thousands of young entrepreneurs and is now a sought after public speaker on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Leadership and Youth. Come along and find out how to be more ‘pirate’.
Stockbridge Library, Wednesday 21 November at 6.30pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

M.C. Gladstone – The Moss of Cree: a Scottish childhood

M.C. Gladstone will read from her recently published memoir detailing her childhood experiences growing up in Scotland. The autobiography describes Mary’s evolution from wean on a dairy farm to sophisticate in Paris.
Stockbridge Library, Thursday 22 November at 2.30pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

Write a story: creative writing workshop for imaginative adults

A beginner’s creative writing workshop for adults around the theme of Rebels, facilitated by local author and creative writers groups leader Carla Acheson. No experience required, just enthusiasm!
Stockbridge Library, Friday 23 November at 10.30am
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

The Adventures of Justine and Sebastien – children’s storytime

A French storytime for under 8s
Morningside Library, Friday 23 November at 2.30 – 3pm
No ticket required, just come along to the library.

Craft-a-noon for children with a Rebel artist theme: Frida Kahlo

The regular Friday afternoon arts and crafts session for kids at Stockbridge has a rebellious theme this week.
Stockbridge Library, Friday 23 November at 2.30pm
Drop in session, no need to book

Wird Hunt!
Another chance to contribute to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid.
Craigmillar Library, Saturday 24 November, 11 – 4pm
Free drop-in activity for adults