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Edinburgh: a book lover’s tour

As covid restrictions are finally gone, it’s a wonderful time to explore our city and some of the unique resources and sites available in our UNESCO City of Literature. For those of you new to town, and to those a little bit more settled, hopefully, this quick guide offers you something to discover and a few guilt-free ways to procrastinate.

Let’s talk bookshops. Located just off central campus, Lighthouse is Edinburgh’s hub for radical literature, hosting an impressively diverse range of authors, it’s the place to discover bold new ideas. Golden Hare is a compact but wonderfully curated store boasting a great section of children’s literature – voted 2019’s indie bookshop of the year, it’s the perfect accompaniment to lazy Sundays wandering Stockbridge Market. If you could happily spend a day browsing (and sipping free tea/coffee to boot) then Topping & Company is for you. Located off Leith Walk, it boasts two floors of shelves stacked to the brim – just be careful on those ladders. Are typewriters your thing? Just a short hop across the road is Typewronger, a charming store housing vintage tech, origami animals, and books from bestsellers and local talents alike. Last but not least: Portobello Books is full of everything from fresh indie releases to the classics, perfect for when you find yourself by the sea and longing for a beach read, and worthy of a trip all on its own. Be sure to check out each store’s social media channels for regular book readings and events!

Looking for something to do? Open year-round, you can visit the Scottish Poetry Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the council’s public libraries for all your reading needs. If you’re up for a trek, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta is a unique experience that’s part garden, part artwork, part poem (but be quick, it closes at the end of this month through winter). If you prefer to stay local, check out The Writers’ Museum and learn about three of Scotland’s most iconic authors: Scott, Stevenson, and Burns. You can also get your Burns fix on Burns Night: celebrate Scotland’s national poet by eating haggis, drinking whisky, and reciting a poem or two. Don’t forget to check out Edinburgh’s many literary festivals – this October finally sees the inaugural Push the Boat Out Poetry Festival, complimenting August’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, draw to some of the most important thinkers alive today and a highlight of the literary calendar. And of course, there are always the Harry Potter tours…

Image: Adam Wilson via Unsplash