For book lovers, I can’t imagine better places to be other than Edinburgh. In 2004, Edinburgh became an official UNESCO city of literature, the first of its kind. Home to its own international book festival, various publishing companies and a writers museum, Edinburgh has become widely associated with the written word. There are so many independent bookshops across the city, and you’ll probably stumble across them when exploring the streets lined with gorgeous architecture. When in the Scottish capital, it’s hard not to feel like the main character of your own story.
It’s been my New Year’s resolution for 2022 to read more (as some of you may already know) so I think it’s completely justified to spend lots of time and money in bookshops. The three mentioned in this post are my favourites at the moment as it’s only recently that I’ve been turning a bookshop visit into a whole afternoon. There are still plenty that I want to explore and would always appreciate any recommendations in the comments or on Instgram and TikTok.
Topping & Company
Topping & Company Booksellers of Edinburgh is one of the largest independent bookshops in Scotland but they have other branches in St. Andrews and Ely, both in Fife. Across two floors, there are over 70,000 books, many ofwhich are signed as they seem to be constantly visited by authors. My favourite things in Topping & Company are the rolling ladders dotted around the different genres as it feels like the personal library of a castle. When browsing the books you can have a pot of tea or coffee and sit at the wee tables, watching the world go by and lose yourself in the many stories that surround you. It also means that you can spend ages inside, but in my opinion, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon.
Rare Birds Book Shop
Rare Birds bookshop is one of the newer additions to Edinburgh’s literature scene and quickly became one of my favourites. They specialise in books (fiction and non-fiction) written by women. I love how they focus on a sense of community centred around reading with a monthly book club where members can vote on each book they read. At Christmas time, Rare Birds launched a 24-day advent calendar filled with blurbs where at the end of the month, you have the (no doubt difficult) decision on which four titles you’d like to keep and read. I thought it was a really great and creative idea and a wonderful way to start reading in the new year. As a book shop, they really open my eyes to new titles that I wouldn’t have heard of and I find it empowering to focus on women.
The Portobello Bookshop
I’m not in Portobello often but when I am, guess where I go every single time. Portobello Books has a beautiful interior w the grey sheithlves showcase all the coverful book spines. Their display tables get me every time and I picked up two titles on my last visit. The spacious shop is the perfect blend of organised and a tad chaotic, partly credited to the seats literally built into the bookcases. I think it’s a vibe that suits a bookshop really well, often how libraries are pictured on screen. Upon my first visit I had to queue to enter the shop which demonstrates how popular it is among locals.
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I have some favorite bookshops over here in the US- in my own state of North Carolina
Park Road Books- great at recommending books (most of the time, haven’t failed). In my hometown
Malaprops- one section I love is their “bind date with a book”—–as in the book is wrapped up in brown paper with just adjective and you buy the book based on those and not allowed to open it until you leave the store. Fun way to buy books- located in Asheville
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Yes, Edinburgh is a fantastic city to visit if you are keen on books. My favourite book shops would be Golden Hare and Armchair books ☺️
I’ve only been into each of them once for a quick lookaround! Will definitely be back at some point
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