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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Best Hidden Gems for Book Lovers in Edinburgh…

An old book of Edinburgh inside a book shop
Reading Time: 2 minutes

…by Sasha / from Ukraine / studying Global Crime, Justice and Security (MSc)

Going through tonnes of scholarly texts every week for your studies may be an engaging task but certainly a tiring one. Every now and then, you may want to take a break and unwind. So what could be a better form of escapism than curling up with a good book? And not just any good book, the one that makes you forget that you are reading at all. No wonder George R.R. Martin once said,

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Plus, you are in luck – Edinburgh is a true dream place for book lovers with all its hidden vintage bookshops and local cafés where you can cosy up with your book and forget about the outside world for just a wee bit.

In this blog, I will introduce you to some of my all-time favourite bookshops around Edinburgh, which are worth visiting even purely for their immaculate dark-academia vibes.

McNaughtan’s Bookshop

This magical bookshop is a must-visit place for vintage lovers. As the oldest second-hand bookshop in Scotland, it stocks unique titles, original art and vintage typewriters. As you enter the shop, the aroma of worn book pages greets you. It almost feels like visiting an artist’s home or a museum, with all the one-of-a-kind antiquarian pieces scattered around. At the very end of the bookstore, you may stumble upon a nice window seat with soft cushions surrounded by rows of bookshelves – a perfectly hidden reading spot. Plus, just a minute away from the bookshop, you can find a popular local coffee spot, Ante, with an aesthetic ambience and delicious coffee.

Lighthouse Books

Just five minutes away from McEwan Hall sits an independent bookstore with friendly bookshop keepers and an interesting selection of titles. This unique shop promotes non-mainstream and political writers as well as organises various events and talks that are worth checking out. A pleasant surprise was a board full of handwritten notes hanging on one of the walls. Upon a closer look, those little notes were actual vouchers— a kind gesture of the random bookshop visitors who decided to donate a couple of pounds to those who may be short on funds. So you may go up to this board, pick up any voucher and use it for your next purchase. Similarly, if you are feeling generous, you may donate a voucher to ensure everyone has the privilege of buying themselves a book. Overall, this place has so many thought-through details. For instance, you may spot little messages handwritten by the bookshop keepers, which highlight cool facts about the books they enjoyed. Such personal touches create a welcoming ambience, making you want to keep coming back.

Topping & Co Booksellers

This family-run bookshop has arguably the most diverse selection of book genres and titles. As a fantasy reader, I can easily browse for hours on end its massive Fantasy section. By far the best feature would be the tall book ladders that you can use to explore the top sections of the bookshelves or to snatch one of the books that catches your eye. In case you acquire a book and find yourself eager to read it, there is a small reading corner where you can do so while sipping your coffee or tea. In addition, the bookstore hosts regular book events, such as talks with well-renowned writers, which you can attend at a discounted student rate.

Want to find out more?

Chat with Sasha

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