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Edinburgh Book festival: a palpable passion for literature

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Whether you are rubbing shoulders with world leaders, grilling the latest literary stars or simply reclining in Charlotte Square with a glass of wine, Edinburgh is a book festival like no other

When I close my eyes I can see Charlotte Square Gardens bedecked and tented for the Edinburgh International Book festival, and I always feel a thrill. I am still in awe of the Edinburgh Book festival, even after all these years, because without losing any of its intimacy, without seeming too commercial or, I might say, "over organised" it has grown and grown and is the biggest, best-known celebration of books in the world, and yet it still fits within the wrought iron fencing. It must be the only book festival in a Unesco world heritage site, and one can imagine the elegant restrained Robert Adam facades enjoying the colourful bohemian air that attends the city square in August.

When you step off the pavement and into the marquee at the entrance, you enter a magical space, with an ecology all of its own. The best thing is, you are welcome whether you've paid to go to an event, or you simply want to take in the atmosphere, have a coffee or a picnic on the grass, or recline in a canvas deckchair decorated with a literary quote, or sip slightly indifferent wine and buy a book.

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