2014: The best of.

End of year lists! So, I’m currently editing the rough lists I made at the start of the month for the end of the year, but I was also thinking about the cool things that have happened because of book-type things this year. From visiting the Iron Throne to meeting GRRM (flail), it’s been a fun year. So here’s some favourites.

The Elephant House – Edinburgh.

I took my mum to the Elephant House on Mother’s day because it’s a generally cute cafe, it has good food and – most importantly, obviously – it’s where  J.K. Rowling wrote a lot of Harry Potter. So, it’s a kind of weird thing when your mum goes “I think you should go to the toilet”, but I took her advice to see what she was talking about and found this: the stalls, walls and ceiling completely covered in Harry Potter graffiti. It’s super cute, and I like the fact that the cafe allow people to do that. There’s quotes, thank yous, messages, stories. All lovely.

Game of Thrones Exhibit – Belfast.

Never been to Ireland, love Game of Thrones. Ideal! Aside from getting to sit on the Iron Throne (just generally cool), it’s fun to actually see the drawings and props and costumes and quirks that put the show together. Really, really good.

Book Bench Tour – London.

What do you do when you have one day in London around Kings Cross? The Bloomsbury Book Bench tour! I didn’t finish it, in fact I think I only found five (and the one I spent longest looking for – 1984 – had been taken down for repairs), but it was a nice way to kill time before a meeting, and they’re really nice and well done. If only I’d had the money to actually bid on them when they went on sale, that would have been nice.

Comics Unmasked – London.comics unmasked
Following on from my book bench tour, I stopped by the  British Library for their exhibit Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, which sought to present the importance of comics in addressing politics, gender, violence and sexuality. I felt a bit bad because it’s something I would have gone to with certain people, and they couldn’t go, and I had one day in London so thought why not, but I feel like even the guidebook is so well constructed to show the exhibit that they could at least get a little something from it. I also got to see Paul Gravett and John Dunning, the minds behind the exhibit, talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival the following month, which made it all the more interesting. Geeks will inherit the world!

George R R Martin – Edinburgh Book Festival.
Once in a while I come across a book series and I’m totally obsessed. The obvious one to recall is Harry Potter, and although I evident like a lot of books, I rarely love a series that much. Then came Game of Thrones. I was a bit late to the game, but heard murmurings of the TV show so decided to read the first book before I gave it a try and, as they say, the rest was history. grrmI’ve not liked some of his other books quite as much as GoT, and thought I’d get something a little different signed so drew a ridiculous godzilla-esque cartoon of him in Westeros to sign. As I promised everyone at the time, it remains framed in my living room. Anyway, here’s a feature about his two talks, and some less eloquent ramblings.

Irvine Welsh – Edinburgh Book Festival.
irvine welsh
You know when you’re Scottish and a book lover, you’ve just got to love Irvine Welsh. We were lucky enough to catch both of his events at the festival, talking about his new book and the collaborative IDP:2043 project. I come from a house where a lot of Irvine Welsh books were lying around, although I was apparently too young to read them (boo), so am making a point in adulthood to correct that slowly but surely. Fun, fun. I should also add that the IDP event allowed me to meet the incredible Denise Mina and discover some awesome new people, including  Barroux and Adam Murphy.

Stephen Fry – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.
stephen fryLike, honestly. Stephen Fry. Incredible. In line with the release of his new book More Fool Me he was doing a wee tour in the UK to talk about his book and other things. What was best about this is the show wasn’t a way to encourage sales and persuade people to go buy one, you got one included with the ticket price. So instead it was a fun night of anecdotes, many of which you went on to read, but a nice chance to see the man behind QI, multiple other excellent shows and documentaries just chat. And do an excellent, one word, Hugh Laurie impression.

Chris Hadfield – Waterstones, Edinburgh.chris hadfield
I mean, aside from the fact that meeting any astronaut would be the coolest thing ever, this was a ridiculously nice way to top off a year of booky events. The man behind this incredible video, and these two amazing books, was just so lovely and friendly. The only downside is we found out he was doing an actual event in Glasgow that night. Damn! Would have been ridiculously cool to see him talk about space and tingz.

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