A bookworm's guide to Edinburgh and Glasgow
A handy guide for lovers of reading, writing, libraries, literary festivals, comics and spoken word events
Local writer and bookish butterfly Lynsey May reveals the brilliant literary hangouts and bookshops of Edinburgh and Glasgow
What better way to browse new books or start writing your own than over a coffee or cake? Lovely bookshops that also happen to feature delicious snacks and drinks include Edinburgh's Looking Glass Books just off the Meadows and Waterstones on Princes Street – which happens to boast views of the castle, should your eyes stray from the page. Over on Candlemaker Row, Deadhead Comics doesn't provide snacks, but does have comics galore.
In Glasgow, check out second-hand bookshop and provider of treats Café Phoenix and if you love comics and genre fiction, head along to Geek Retreat on Union Street to discuss the merits of your favourite authors over a coffee or burger.
Of course, a café is a bonus but it isn't the only sign of a quality bookshop. Bookworms will rejoice in the selection of books and magazines about art and politics in Glasgow's Aye Aye Books at the CCA, as well as the delightful Caledonia Books. Just round the corner from the University of Edinburgh, you'll find Word Power Books, an independent seller stuffed to the rafters with a carefully curated collection and its own Independent Radical Book Fair.
Stick around over summer and you can indulge all your literary leanings at the fantastic Edinburgh International Book Festival at Charlotte Square. However, that isn't your only chance to enjoy some festival fun: Glasgow's Aye Write! Festival brings some bookish joy to April.
Keep an eye out for Book Week Scotland in November too. The festivities take place across the country but both Edinburgh and Glasgow are guaranteed to host plenty of exciting events. Likewise, October's Scottish International Storytelling Festival has its base at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh but shows and open mic opportunities aren't confined to the capital.
If you're looking for an escape from campus libraries, there are some fantastic alternatives. Glasgow's Mitchell Library has three fabulous floors and Edinburgh's Central and National libraries are not only bursting with books and reference materials, but they’re also handily located just across the road from each other on George IV Bridge.
Another highlight is the Glasgow Women's Library, which has an impressive variety of works highlighting women's achievements. And the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh hosts a particularly healthy programme of events, so you can enjoy your poetry live as well as on the page.
Want more live literature recommendations? Check out some spoken word at Edinburgh's Illicit Ink and Inky Fingers, or head along to Last Monday at Rio or Fail Better in Glasgow. And if you're keen to meet other writers, the monthly Literary Salon run by the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust or Glasgow's Weegie Wednesdays at the CCA is the perfect place to do it. So stick a bookmark in your current read and dive into the local literary scene.
Lynsey May is a recipient of the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. She tweets at @LynseyMay