The Book Festival is over and the signs of Autumn are coming hard and fast. It’s cold, again. Charlotte Square is a mess. Everyone has the flu. Even as I write this, I can feel my bones seizing up and hear my subconscious telling me that it’s time to hibernate, again, soon.

This year, the book festival was brave. It did things it had never done before. In a time where funding is being pulled left, right and centre, it would be easy for an established festival like the EIBF to stick to their guns, sit on their laurels and hide, but they didn’t.

Instead, they brought out a programme that was rich and varied, with more of my favourite writers than I have ever seen before (and that’s after working for  four literary festivals over six years) and a selection of exciting new events.

From Unbound, which filled the Spiegeltent with music, writing and tons of people every night, to their fantastic guest selectors, to their fantastic social media presence, they were really on the ball. They showed what a book festival could do.

As the Booker prize was announced today it made me sad that they did not take risks with their selection. There was no Mitchell, no Christos Tsiolkas, no spark. Though I appreciate the work that literary novelists do, I ultimately believe that authors who appeal to a wide audience do  great things too.  Be it Scarlett Thomas or (dare I say it) Stephenie Meyer, these guys are really reaching and affecting a large group of people. Neil Gaiman tells a great story about how he was once asked by a literary novelist at a festival how he made his living, to which he replied, ‘I write books’. The novelist was incredulous that Gaiman could support himself solely through his writing. This is something that has really stuck with me.  It makes me happy, then, to see the Guardian running the Not the Booker prize, which allows people to nominate the books they feel are deserving of acclaim. The shortlist is currently being contended, but you can read the original longlist here.

Seeing the range of books submitted for consideration is joyful; just look at it! Comics sit happily next to literary novels, which in turn are making friends with science fiction stalwarts and popular fiction.  It’s very similar to what you see in this year’s book festival programme, and it’s a trend I hope to see continuing.


And so I am going to look forward, to when the winter is over, when Charlotte Square has been re-sod, and my bones stop hurting.  I can’t wait to see what next year’s book festival, and Not the Booker, bring us..