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Inspired by Jólabókaflóð, the unique Icelandic tradition of gifting books on Christmas Eve to be read that night, this Issue presents a selection of stories across fiction, non-fiction, and children's. If you're looking for ideas for books to give - on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day - then we've got it covered.

Celebrated Edinburgh-based author Alexander McCall Smith takes us through an urban landscape of ‘ fragile beauty, of secretive corners and sudden vistas’ as he connects Edinburgh’s colourful architectural heritage with being a unique and inspiring city steeped in literature.

 A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh By Alexander McCall Smith Published by Historic Environment Scotland

City of Literature

Is there something in the Edinburgh water that explains why the city has produced so many writers? BBC Scotland, in a playful mood, broadcast a discussion on this subject some years ago – on the First of April. It is hard to imagine anybody falling for such an absurdity, but the setting of a city – if not its water – probably does help literary creativeness. Edinburgh is a city of fragile beauty, of secretive corners and sudden vistas – such a city will always attract writers and provide them with inspiration.

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Extolling the many merits of the literary podcast, David Robinson reveals his favourites for you to discover and enjoy. Think you’re too busy in the run-up to Christmas to get downloading? Think again. This, David argues, is in fact a great time to immerse yourself in the world of audio available at just a click of a button. So ‘lie back and listen’…

I don’t know how you are about new technology, but me, I’m a late adapter. So late, in fact, that I still don’t want a smartphone and have only now, about eight years after everyone else, discovered podcasts.

Why did nobody ever tell me about them?  Why did no-one ever shake me by the lapels and insist that I listen the New Yorker’s Fiction podcast? That I really ought to download John Lanchester’s exquisite exposition of the Brexit bungle – still the best I’ve heard – on the London Review of Books? That ...

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ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

Christmas Stories by Matt Haig click

Christmas Stories by Matt Haig

Two enchanting audio extracts read by Stephen Fry and Carey Mulligan

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Catology click

Catology

Just what is your cat thinking?

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Hello, My Name Is… click

Hello, My Name Is…

‘The idea of announcing a child’s name immediately after birth is not a universal practice’

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The Importance of Fairy Tales click

The Importance of Fairy Tales

‘The lasting popularity of fairy tales also allows many lesser-known tales to come to prominence’

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Scotland’s Landscapes: Coastlines click

Scotland’s Landscapes: Coastlines

‘For millennia the coast has been a gateway for the people of Scotland’

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh In France click

Charles Rennie Mackintosh In France

‘His French watercolours can be seen as a natural, fully orchestrated development’

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Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past click

Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past

‘If Scots think their country has few or no connections to slavery, they are sorely mistaken’

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We’re Gangin On A Bear Hunt click

We’re Gangin On A Bear Hunt

The classic picture book now charmingly recreated in Scots for little adventurers

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Upbeat: Iraq’s National Youth Orchestra click

Upbeat: Iraq’s National Youth Orchestra

Audio of Beethoven’s Eighth played by the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

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12 Days O Yule click

12 Days O Yule

A stunningly illustrated Scots version of the traditional Christmas rhyme

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Q&A with Michelle Sloan click

Q&A with Michelle Sloan

‘It’s actually the little things that fascinate me – the lives of everyday people’

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The Making Of An Art Adventure click

The Making Of An Art Adventure

Behind the scenes of the making of this unique colouring book

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Scots Who Left a Stain on American History click

Scots Who Left a Stain on American History

‘Vitriolic personal attacks, dirty tricks and mud-slinging that would make the most hardened modern-day spin doctor blush’

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Hogg’s Highland Journeys and Mine click

Hogg’s Highland Journeys and Mine

‘The journeys would change the next half of Hogg’s life’

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Buy Buy Baby click

Buy Buy Baby

‘The Men2be agency promised that only “discerning professional men” were on their books’

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