This month we take a trip up to Scotland to Golden Hare Books for our bookshop of the month! As home to the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh is a wonderfully literary city – and Golden Hare Books fits right in. We sat down with Ian from the bookshop to pick his brains about the city’s literary attractions, his Autumn reading list and more.
Autumn is creeping up on us now – what books are you most excited about reading over the next few months?
For my money, the most exciting book coming out this Autumn is one I was lucky enough to read a proof copy of a few weeks ago: The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride. McBride’s first book, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, is a tour de force, a work that reinvigorated the great Irish modernist tradition for the 21st century, so my expectations were incredibly high for The Lesser Bohemians — and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m also really excited about Verso’s beautiful-looking new edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, featuring essays by China Mieville and Ursula Le Guin. I haven’t read Utopia for years, but it’s obviously an absolutely foundational text in Western literature and politics and I can’t think of any writers better qualified than Mieville and Le Guin to elucidate the contemporary relevance of this visionary book. I know I’m going to be dipping into Teju Cole’s new collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, a lot through the rest of the year and probably for many, many years to come. I love his writing — so eloquent, so insightful.
With great events like the Edinburgh Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh seems driven by books! What events do you most look forward to?
The Edinburgh Book Festival is brilliant — it’s probably the greatest celebration of the written word anywhere in the world, and you can tell that most authors love being there as much as the festival-goers. We’re really lucky to share our city with such a dedicated team of people who work tirelessly year-round to bring so many important writers here every August. The Edinburgh International Festival always used to pass me by, overshadowed by the book festival and the Fringe, but since Fergus Linehan took over a couple of years ago, it’s been going from strength to strength. The EIF has long had a reputation for being somewhat stuffy and a bit elitist, but I think that’s changing under Linehan’s stewardship and the quality and diversity of his programming is one of the most exciting things about living in Edinburgh at the moment.
What would you recommend that book enthusiast do and see in the city?
Edinburgh’s literary heritage has almost become something of a cliche about the city, but it’s completely true — books and writing are woven into the very fabric of the city’s life. (How many other cities have a train station and a football club named after novels?) There are lots of statues to literary figures to visit, including one of Sherlock Holmes marking Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthplace, and, this being Scotland, lots of pubs with literary connections (some more tenuous than others it has to be said). You can also spend hours exploring all Edinburgh’s wonderful independent and second-hand bookshops. If you’re planning a literary-themed trip to the city, the website of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is a great resource.
For those who don’t know, could you tell us about the Golden Hare name (which we love!)?
The shop’s owner, Mark, commissioned the artist and graphic designer Anna Mill to produce an emblem for the then as-yet-unnamed shop and she came up with the hare which is proudly mounted on our shopfront and who appears on all our bags and other branded items. I don’t think the original intention was for him to be golden, but it does make him a bit more mysterious and magical, and thus Golden Hare Books was born.
Open seven days a week from 10 am till 6 pm.