Edinburgh book festival 2020

It’s August which means Leo season and in turn my birthday month, but more importantly, festival time in Edinburgh. From the fringe, the tv festival and the book festival, there’s festivals all round and considering the number of amazing books out this year it would have been disappointing to have had no book festival at all, but thankfully it’s going ahead online from the 15th to the 31st of August AND it’s all free. I thought, since those of you who read my book recommendations likely have pretty similar tastes to me that it would be handy (and fun) to make a list of all the events I’m planning on watching.

The first event I’m interested in on Sunday the 16th at 16:00 is Rutger Bregman’s There is Hope for the Human Race. Bregman is the author of Humankind, an optimistic look at human nature through history contrasting with the commonly believed idea of humans being innately selfish, which I’ve referenced before from his episode on Pandora Sykes podcast. His book has just arrived in the post so I might manage to have it finished by Sunday, but if not I’ll be tuning in anyway as I’m so desperately in need of more of the hopeful outlook Bregman has and i’m more than ready to hear more of his thoughts, ideas and many a positive story.

The next event on Wednesday the 19th at 19:00 is the wonderful Marian Keyes’ Family Matters, her equally wonderful new novel Grown Ups was a favourite of mine this year and one I’d love to be reading for the first time now after months of lockdown because it’s filled with all the signature comfort that Keyes seems to manage to so easily sprinkle throughout all her writing. Covering all sorts of topics centring around family dynamics with no beating around the bush and far too many laughs to count, I know I’m in safe hands when I open a new book from Marian Keyes so I can’t wait to hear more from her in this conversation.

On Saturday the 22nd at 17:30 we have two out of the three hosts of the podcast Outrage and Optimism, Christina Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac on How We Can Survive the Climate Crisis. This year Figueres and Rivett-Carnac brought out a book called The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis which covers the two very different futures facing humanity depending on what we do now, how we can get to the more positive, greener world (and avoid the other more hellish future) while also outlining the importance they find in having both outrage and optimism in order to drive change and make a difference.

Later on Saturday the 22nd at 20:30 brings my most anticipated event, Bernardine Evaristo in conversation with Nicola Sturgeon, The Triumph of Girl, Woman, Other. As well as loving Evaristo’s Booker prize winning novel (and being ready to gobble up the rest of the back catalogue) I adored listening to the interview on Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast therefore know this conversation is going to be no less entertaining and thought provoking. Evaristo took on so many different identities within the book and managed to show all the different complex aspects of each character and their lives, it was truly one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, so I can’t wait to hear more of her thoughts alongside our First minister Nicola Sturgeon, a fellow book lover.

For this next event on Tuesday the 25th at 17:30 we move on to some YA novels with Retelling Tales, featuring the authors Joseph Coelho, Juno Dawson and Kiran Millwood Hargrave. All three of these authors have books which weave some sort of retelling into a new original story; Coelho with The Girl Who Became a Tree, Juno Dawson with Wonderland and Millwood Hargrave with The Deathless Girls. I have yet to read any of these books but I’m a big fan of the authors, particularly Millwood Hargrave with her enchanting book The Mercies, and I absolutely love a retelling so i’m intrigued to hear more from the three wonderful writers and hopefully pick up the books sometime in the future.

On Friday the 28th at 19:00 we have the writer of the much loved The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett with How the Other Twin Lives. I haven’t got the chance to read The Vanishing Half yet, but I’m going to make sure I do before this event as I’ve heard so many good things and it sounds utterly breathtaking and timely. In this event Bennett is in conversation with the co-founders of Black Girls Book Club, Melissa Cumming-Quarry and Natalie Carter, and they’ll be answering audience questions so I can’t wait to hear what is bound to be an insightful and much needed discussion.

For Saturday the 29th I have 3 events, starting at 17:30 is Should Capitalism Survive Climate Change, a discussion between the aforementioned Christina Figueres (former UN secretary for climate), Julian Aguon (international human rights lawyer) and Somini Sengupta (New York Times international climate reporter). They’ll tackle head-on the reasoning behind many leaders for not taking the drastic and much needed climate action, whether this will change in a post pandemic world, and what we’re going to need to do to pull through and help the most vulnerable and in turn save the planet.

The next event for this day at 19:00 is Samantha Irby’s Bitches Gotta Eat. I’m currently in the middle of reading Irby’s fourth book Wow, No Thank You, and it’s just so damn truthful, blunt and downright hilarious, the type of funny that makes me snort. As well as her books, and many published essays, Irby began writing on her blog ‘Bitches Gotta Eat’, so there’s something for us bloggers. I love reading and hearing Irby’s thoughts as she examines modern life in all its grossest and most glorious parts (the two are often one in the same), so I’ll jump at the chance to hear more.

And the 3rd event of the day at 20:30 is Elif Shafak’s Writing the World’s Wrongs. Shafak’s new widely praised novel 10 minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World, sounds utterly intoxicating from what I’ve heard and I’m also going to need to make sure I read this before the event as I can’t wait to hear more from such a beautiful writer. Even in non-fiction Shafak is utterly captivating and I’ve enjoyed her recent writings on the divided times we’re living through and why she thinks stories are what we need to bring us all together through “wisdom, connectivity, and much-needed empathy”. Something we could all do with right now.

On Monday the 31st 14:30 we have my last event of the festival, Matt Haig, whose new book The Midnight Library is out today and he’s talking about the The Library of Second Chances. From his wide ranging story telling both through fiction and his more close to home non-fiction work, Haig never fails to explore what it means to be human in new and meaningful ways which are truly good for the soul. His new book about a library between life and death filled with second chances of lives unlived seems like the perfect opportunity for Haig to get us all thinking deeply and challenge our outlook on life. I know from past shows that Haig is a delight to see live so I can’t wait for this one.

So, that’s all the events I have bookmarked so far, but already there’s a few more intriguing me so do let me know if there are any events you are looking forward to that I’ve missed, I’ve always got time for more conversations around books.

—T

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