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The Joy of Words at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2023

This year the Edinburgh International Book Festival (12th - 28th August) celebrated 40 years! Since its opening in 1983, it has become one of the greatest annual literary events in the world. This year over 550 authors and illustrators joined from across the world to share their stories, ideas, and perspectives across 500 events for adults, children, and teenagers. Events are open to all, with opportunities to meet your favourite authors and discover new ones. Here are some events you might like to catch up on demand at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.


Painting of red haired child reading a book with a pirate hat on.
40 Years of Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

The Joy of Words at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2023


Photographs of authors past and present at Edinburgh International Book Festival with the words, The Joy Of Words.
The Joy of Words at 40th Anniversary of Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Sara Pascoe: Why Be Normal When You Can Be Funny?


Sara Pascoe is a much-loved comedian, actor, TV personality and writer. Debuting her new fictional novel - Weirdo, the tale of a woman desperate to seem like a 'normal', well-adjusted grown-up. If only she could stop the voices in her head.


The event was brilliant! Down to earth, funny, with real-life incredible stories.

Photograph of Sara Pascoe's new book - Weirdo.
Sara Pascoe - Weirdo at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Monica Heisey, Josie Long & Will McPhail: Funny Peculiar


If you don't laugh, you'll cry - sometimes it's better to do both. Schitt's Creek writer Monica Heisey's novel Really Good, Actually is one woman's search for joy after divorce, while comedian Josie Long's Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't explores love in the age of anxiety. They are joined by Will McPhail, whose Love & Vermin collects his distinctive and wise New Yorker cartoons.


A really interesting and entertaining event exploring humour presented across different forms of media.

Photograph of the outside of the old fire station housing the Festival Bookshop.
Edinburgh International Book Festival Bookshop ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Sally Magnusson: What The Clearances Couldn't Remove


Sally Magnusson is best known as a BBC newsreader and her father was a famous Icelander. Sally Magnusson is descended on her mother's side from victims of the highland clearances. That terrible period of Scottish History is at the heart of Magnusson's new novel, Music in the Dark. Shot through with spirited resilience, it's a tender, clear-eyed reckoning with Scotland's past.


I was fascinated to learn what happened to the women during one of Scotland's darkest periods of history, from a woman's standpoint, and how the effects of these events live on in people today.


Photograph of book - Music In The Dark by Sally Magnusson.
Music In The Dark by Sally Magnusson at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Outriders Europe: Dean Atta & Kostya Tsolakis, Ciaran Hodgers & Victoria McNulty


Fresh from their transcontinental travels, four writers offer insights into their journeys - and the effects of migration. Dean Atta, a British poet of Greek Cypriot and Caribbean descent, travelled with poet and journalist Kostya Tsolakis to Athens and Nicosia, while spoken word poet Ciaran Hodgers joined performance poet Victoria McNulty from Glasgow to Gdansk and Krakow, and then from Belfast to Drogheda and Achill Island.


As well as being fresh back from their travels across Europe, they also brought with them a fresh perspective of events and how they have affected their lives and those who live in the areas travelled to. Incredibly moving stories!


Photograph of Dean Atta, Kostya Tsolakis, Ciaran Hodgers & Victoria McNulty on stage.
Outriders Europe at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Sara Baume & Kapka Kassabova: Nature's Alchemy


When we listen more closely to the natural world, what do we learn about ourselves? Sara Baume's novel Seven Steeples is the tender story of two people living a life dictated by the seasons and nature. Meanwhile, Kapka Kassabova travelled down the Mesta River in Bulgaria for her sublime non-fiction book Elixir, learning from foragers, healers, and mystics who enjoy a symbiotic relationship with nature.


Thoroughly enjoyed this event! It was eye-opening to discover what these two incredible women have learned from nature.


Photograph of books on table.
Author's Appearing Today at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Kate Mosse: Romance and Revenge On The Barbary Coast


There can't be many people who have had a more positive impact on women writers than Kate Mosse. As well as being the founder of the Women's Prize for Fiction, she's the best-selling author of historical novels in which women are resolutely on top. Discussing The Ghost Ship: a tale of love, vengeance, and breathtaking peril on the high seas.


The third novel in a series that can be read on its own, The Ghost Ship an epic love story is set from France in 1610 to Amsterdam and the Canary Islands in the 1620s. This historical fiction novel delves deep into a time when it was unlucky for ladies to be onboard a ship, will the women survive in a man's world? I am as intrigued as you are!


Photograph of a stack of The Ghost Ship books.
The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

Each event was totally unique, inspirational, and entertaining! I can't wait to dive into the pile of books I purchased at The Festival Bookshop, brought to the festival by Waterstones. Which stocked an array of titles for everyone children, teenagers, and adults alike. As well as, exclusive copies such as Sara Pascoe's - Weirdo, not out until September. Did you know all proceeds from the sales of books are invested back into the running of the Book Festival?


Photograph of Michelle and Sally Magnusson.
Meet The Author - Sally Magnusson at Edinburgh International Book Festival ©M D Harding Travel Photography

This is one event for your diary! So excited to attend next year and enjoy lots more events In August 2024, when the Edinburgh International Festival will be in its new permanent location at Edinburgh's Future Institute, a landmark development based on the site of the old Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place.  The University of Edinburgh is transforming this iconic building into a state-of-the-art space for multi-disciplinary collaborations and partnerships, with the aim to fulfil the pledge set in stone above the main entrance: ‘patet omnibus’ – open to all.   


Don't forget you can sign up for the Edinburgh International Book Festival Newsletter and keep up to date with the latest news and ticket sales.

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