I just turned 40, a lovely synchronicity! I have cherished memories of the Festival from throughout my life, beginning as a young child eating ice cream in the sunshine and playing on the grass.
One of my favourite Book Festival memories is of a wonderful night with a dear friend of mine. We had a night out together to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nicola Sturgeon in conversation. We had some accessibility needs and I particularly remember the love and care that we were treated with, not the sort of thing you see in a brochure. The event itself was incredible; two fabulous, powerful ladies talking about literature and life. It’s a really treasured memory, and it was the event and the speakers, but also the staff and the surroundings that made it so special.
Regarding accessibility, the Book Festival does a first-rate job of helping people to engage with their work and events. If you want to go to the Festival, you can go to the Festival. I find the way that staff subtly and supportively deal with helping people to access events very moving! Other festivals and events should strive for that accessibility, it means so much to a lot of people.
I’m a teacher and it brings me great joy to bring pupils to the Book Festival. It’s such a warm place to bring teenagers! There’s something for everyone, and everybody is treated with respect and dignity. Pupils are safe to roam, look at the bookshop, and see and hear wonderful things. It was extra special to attend an event last year because the pupils were each gifted a book. In this way, the Festival is not only letting their younger audience see how entertaining, relatable and important literature can be, but actively putting books into their hands.
My school has been working closely with the Book Festival this year, and they’ve supported us in introducing more contemporary books at school that – crucially – are more representative of the diverse voices in our society. I can hardly begin to express the value of this.
The Book Festival brings world famous writers, thinkers, politicians and journalists to Edinburgh, such a positive thing for Scotland. More than this, it provides common ground, and a platform for people to come together, something which is always more valuable than we realise.
If the Book Festival was to cease trading, I would be devastated. So what am I doing about that? Being a Patron or Friend is a chance to put your money where your mouth is and to support something that you feel strongly about. I don’t make a massive monthly contribution, but I’ll never miss it. I believe in our power, not as individuals but as communities.
I’m excited about the future of the Book Festival, there are changes every year that keep things fresh and it’s all for the good. Just keep doing what you’re doing for all of us; the city, schoolchildren, adults… just keep the magic!