This year I am diving head-first into the Edinburgh International Book Festival, just one of the many festivals going on in the city this month. Conveniently self-contained on Charlotte Square in New Town, the Book Festival grounds consist of several theaters, a big book shop, a couple of bars and cafes, and lots of lovely outdoor seating (some of it covered, perfect on a drizzly day).
The program is announced a couple months in advance, and some big names (last year George RR Martin was here, for example) sell out as soon as tickets are released. Many other events still have same-day tickets available, so it’s the kind of festival you can attend with or without advanced planning. Most events cost between £6 and £10 and last an hour. There are also several free events, including the nightly Jura Unbound.
So far we’ve been to a couple of really good events. The first one was Mary Costello and Han Kang, part of the ‘Trading Stories‘ theme running through this year’s festival, which brings together international authors to discuss various literary issues. Kang’s novel The Vegetarian is one of the few books that our entire book club has liked this year.
I also went to see BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz speak about his latest book, Think like an Artist. Gompertz is a dynamic speaker, and did an excellent job of presenting his thesis in a way that was enjoyable to those who had or had not read then book. I think that’s always a tricky part about an event based on a book – how to make it interesting for both groups of audience members.
Later this week I’ll be heading into a couple of events whose books I have not yet read; it will be interesting to see whether they manage to convince me to pick up a copy and bring it to the signing desk on my way out.