World Book Night and Reading Hour

Friday 23 April

This year Edinburgh International Book Festival is encouraging everyone to get involved with World Book Night, on Friday 23 April. Read on to find out more about World Book Night, how we’re marking it and how you can get involved.


Hot drinks sachets, biscuits and a copy of Stories To Make You Smile

Presented by literacy charity The Reading Agency, World Book Night is the UK’s annual celebration of books and reading that brings people from all backgrounds together, to inspire one another to read more. Here at Edinburgh International Book Festival, reading for pleasure is at the heart of everything we do. We know that setting aside time for books can be a challenge, but the benefits for our health and wellbeing are proven. Whether you’re listening to an audiobook, reading books aloud to family members, browsing a magazine or graphic novel, all can help us feel more connected to the world around us, and can counter feelings of loneliness and isolation.

In time for #ReadingHour which is on Friday 23 April at 7-8pm, we have been distributing self-care packs to community groups across Edinburgh, including to our partners Scran Academy, WHALE Arts, Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre, The Pennywell Pantry and North Edinburgh Food Bank. Inside the packs are treats with a well-being focus: hot chocolate, biscuits, bath salts, a pampering face mask and most importantly, a copy of Stories to Make you Smile.

Stories to Make you Smile was commissioned especially to mark the tenth anniversary of World Book Night, and features feel-good stories by ten bestselling novelists. Sandi Toksvig is hosting an event about the book at 8-9pm on Friday 23 April, click here to find out more and book your free ticket.

The Scran Academy van with their World Book Night book packs

Get involved with #ReadingHour

We know that the last year has been a challenge for everyone, so this World Book Night we are encouraging people to take a break for some self-care and join #ReadingHour on Friday 23 April, 7-8pm.

This hour is for you to dedicate to reading in any way. You could read alone or with others, watch a Book Festival event from our archives, or call a friend to share recommendations and discuss what you want to read next. If you prefer audiobooks, there are a huge selection to choose from on BBC Sounds, from Barack Obama’s The Promised Land to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows, all available to listen to for free. Take an hour to read, relax and celebrate books.

Two of the Book Festival team have shared their plans for Friday with us below.

Becca Di Francesco, Sponsorship Officer

One constant I’ve enjoyed this past year has been regularly catching up with friends about what we’re reading and swapping recommendations. My friend kindly sent me a copy of Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade and I’ll enjoy settling down with it for World Book Night. It follows five exceptional writers: modernist poet H.D, Dorothy L Sayers, Jane Harrison, Eileen Power and Virginia Woolf who independently found themselves living in London’s Mecklenburgh Square in the early 20th century. It traces London’s literary history from this bohemian quarter and tells each woman’s story of how they came to be there.

This is a great read because each chapter inspires dozens more reading recommendations. You’ll want to dig deep into the brilliant works of each author, and Square Haunting offers them the credit they deserve and reaffirms their relevance in present day.
A copy of Square Haunting, with a cup of tea and jaffa cakes

Noëlle Cobden, Communities Programme Director

I’ve always found books a wonderful way to relax and escape the stresses of the day. Over the last year I’ve found taking time to read has been vital to help me process the pandemic and numerous lockdowns. During difficult moments I often return to a childhood favourite: The Far Side of Lough by Polly Devlin. The book was a present from my Granny and knowing that, alongside the beautiful, funny and poignant stories it contains, is always a comfort to me.



You can also follow our friends @WorldBookNight on Twitter, and don’t forget to get involved and share how you’re celebrating using the hashtag #ReadingHour.


This project is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Special thanks to Morrisons Community Champion Jen Ross, at the Granton store, for donating

several of the supplies included in the wellbeing packs for North Edinburgh Food Bank.

We are grateful to World Book Night for providing copies of Stories To Make You Smile to share with our community participants.

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