Looking after our wellbeing and understanding the complexities of the human body are vital for a healthy society. In this strand authors explore the complex functionality of the brain, the mysterious workings of the body’s mighty immune system and navigate the connections between physical and mental health. It’s 70 years since the National Health Service Act, and we’ve got inspirational stories of resilience from doctors, nurses and patients alongside a few survival guides for vulnerable human beings from authors who have been there.
TO CHANGE IS HUMAN
Saturday 11 August 10:30 - 11:30
Following the resounding success of the bestselling Adventures in Human Being, Edinburgh-based GP and writer Gavin Francis turns his attention to Shapeshifters or more specifically, the ways in which human bodies are transformed throughout a lifetime. Changes happen in many different contexts: ageing, transgender journeys and plastic surgery being some topical examples that Francis analyses in his new book. Chaired by Allan Little.
Daniel M Davis & Suzanne O'Sullivan
HOW HUMAN BODIES WORK
Wednesday 15 August 15:45 - 16:45
One’s a professor of immunology, the other’s a leading neurologist. Both provide crystal clear insights into the mysterious workings of the human body. In The Beautiful Cure Daniel M Davis shows why the body’s immune system is far more powerful than any medicine ever invented, while Suzanne O’Sullivan’s Brainstorm is a gripping journey into the most complex structure in the universe - the brain. Chaired by Stella Chan.
The Dyslexia Question
GETTING CHILDREN INTO READING
Wednesday 15 August 19:00 - 20:00
Author-illustrator Lucy Volpin describes herself as ‘wildly dyslexic’ and never imagined she could be a writer; publisher Barrington Stoke specialises in super-readable children’s books that break down the barriers that can stop children reading. Join Volpin and Barrington Stoke as they discuss the gifts and challenges of dyslexia. Afterwards, drop into the Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab to chat informally with the panel, for one-to-one advice and reading ideas.
Peter Dorward & Christie Watson
BEING KIND IN THE CARING INDUSTRY
Thursday 16 August 17:45 - 18:45
Peter Dorward and Christie Watson both have tales to tell about the ethical and practical demands that are laid on doctors and nurses. Dorward has worked as a doctor across the globe and concludes that no matter how dedicated and skilled medics might be, problems are never far away. After working as a nurse for 20 years, Watson argues that empathy and compassion are essential elements of her profession. Chaired by Gavin Francis.
DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
Thursday 16 August 19:15 - 20:15
Working a 97 hour week doesn’t sound much fun for anyone, but when we’re talking about an NHS doctor, such a schedule could become a matter of life and death. In This is Going to Hurt, comedian and ex-junior doctor Adam Kay reflects on the often horrific conditions he was working under and what finally happened to make him hang up the white coat. Chaired by Lee Randall.
Building Resilience in Children
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HAPPINESS
Thursday 16 August 19:30 - 21:00
Positive social connection shapes a baby’s brain, developing the resilience needed to thrive, while adverse childhood experiences have been described as ‘the single greatest health threat facing our nation’. Join Michelle Jones and Kara Whelan from Craigmillar Books for Babies, research scientist Suzanne Zeedyk, author Carol Craig and picture book writer Debi Gliori to explore the implications for individuals and Scotland as a nation.
Writing for Resilience
CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP
Friday 17 August 10:30 - 12:30
In this workshop for young adults (16-26), novelist Holly Bourne shows how creative writing is an incredibly useful tool for working through anxieties and fears. She guides you through the ways writing can help express worries too painful or difficult to voice. Whether fiction, poetry or a diary, the very act of writing can be a great form of problem solving and resilience building.
NOT THAT KIND OF LOVE
Friday 17 August 18:45 - 19:45
He’s known public acclaim in acting roles including Lord Mountbatten in The Crown, and he’s no stranger to private grief after the death of his sister Clare: Greg Wise has faced some brutal highs and lows in his life. In this annual event featuring an inspiring individual who has found a route through some major life challenges, Wise describes his most memorable moments, including the highlights of his acting career and the months he spent caring for Clare as she came to the end of her three-year fight against cancer.
Greg Wise with Sally Magnusson
A SISTER'S LIFE-AFFIRMING DIARY
Saturday 18 August 11:45 - 12:45
Clare Wise and her brother Greg were always close; she a film executive, he an actor. When Clare was diagnosed with cancer she began a candid, tender diary. When she became too ill, Greg continued it until after her death. Not That Kind of Love is the life-affirming result. Today, Greg Wise talks to Sally Magnusson about his sister’s story. This event will be recorded for BBC Radio Scotland.
A GUIDE FOR LIVING
Sunday 19 August 15:15 - 16:15
Laughter is the best medicine, so thankfully comedian Ruby Wax has penned a witty follow-up to her bestselling book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, designed to help us live well. Armed with a degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and a knack for hilarity, today Wax discusses How to Be Human: The Manual and her tips for having a healthy mind in a world where new equals best and keeping up is tough. Chaired by Jackie McGlone.
Alastair McIntosh & Guy Stagg
GOING ON FOOT
Sunday 19 August 17:30 - 18:30
The transformative power of walking is the glue holding together Alastair McIntosh and Guy Stagg’s recent works. Poacher’s Pilgrimage has McIntosh return to the Outer Hebrides of his childhood to unpick the history of the islands’s mysterious structures. In The Crossway Stagg travels over 5000km on foot from Canterbury to Jerusalem on a secular quest to find meaning and a pathway through his own mental health issues. Chaired by Susan Mansfield.
THE KINDNESS REVOLUTION
Wednesday 22 August 11:45 - 12:45
The popular broadcaster, talented comedian and, as she recently demonstrated on Strictly, very nifty ballroom dancer is on a mission. With a culture of hatred and vitriol brewing in public and on social media, how can we stimulate more kindness in everyone’s daily lives? Susan Calman’s answer is The Kindness Quest: Dancing For Joy; her personal campaign to celebrate a spirit of community. Chaired by Lee Randall.
Thursday 23 August 16:00 - 17:00
Writer and critic Brian Dillon’s award-winning and newly reissued In the Dark Room is a deeply personal work on grief which unfolds into a stunning meditation on the nature of memory for individuals and communities. A formidable essayist who deftly combines the personal and polemic, Dillon’s sharp insights make for a memorable Book Festival event.
LIVING AFTER SURVIVING
Thursday 23 August 20:30 - 21:30
How to Survive a Plague is David France’s history of the fight against AIDS, the disease caused by HIV that has killed over 35 million people worldwide. Described as ‘subtle and searing', it won the Baillie Gifford Prize last year. Now the Book Festival and the Prize have commissioned France to write a new chapter, responding to what he’s learned since his book was published. Today, he presents that follow-up. Chaired by Steven Gale.
THE TALKING CURE
Friday 24 August 11:45 - 12:45
All over the world, more and more people are seeing therapists. We go to address past traumas, to change behaviour, to confront addiction, to talk about relationships, or simply because we want to know more about ourselves. Susie Orbach, a psychotherapist for over 40 years and author of In Therapy, uses case studies to analyse what happens on the couch. In today’s event she talks about the workings of therapy with Ruth Wishart, demonstrating how this valuable process can help people in all sorts of situations.
Lynne Jones & Devi Sridhar
DEALING WITH GLOBAL HEALTH
Friday 24 August 14:15 - 15:15
There are different ways to have an impact on global health. Two approaches are dissected in this event. Lynne Jones, a relief worker and child psychiatrist, believes that mental health programmes in war zones and areas of natural disaster can do essential work in the most trying of circumstances. Edinburgh University's Devi Sridhar has analysed how international organisations can work together to stem disease in strife-torn areas.
HOW TO FEEL WHOLE AGAIN
Friday 24 August 18:45 - 19:45
Following the wondrous success of his recent novel How to Stop Time, and the bestselling Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig launches a new book about suffering from depression and anxiety in today’s troublesome world. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a tender and uplifting work, offering strategies to help us worry less, sleep more and look after our mental health in this age of anxiety. Chaired by Richard Holloway. This event will be recorded for BBC Radio Scotland.
Tools of the Trade
PRESCRIPTION FOR POETRY
Friday 24 August 19:00 - 20:00
Let us help you keep your enthusiasm and energy. Using poems from the Scottish Poetry Library’s new anthology for teachers, editors Kate Hendry and Jane Cooper, together with psychotherapist Peter Kravitz, discuss how poems can be a practical part of a teacher's wellbeing and happiness. After the event, drop into the Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab for a personal poetry prescription.
Kathryn Mannix & Adrian Owen
Saturday 25 August 14:15 - 15:15
Are we finally talking more freely about dying? Kathryn Mannix's With the End in Mind is full of wisdom and practical advice, built around the fascinating end-of-life stories of people she’s met during her career in palliative care. Into the Grey Zone is neuroscientist Adrian Owen’s remarkable account of his discovery of the ‘grey zone’, a new realm of human consciousness somewhere between life and death. Chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.
THE POETRY OF FREE HEALTHCARE
Saturday 25 August 19:15 - 20:15
To mark the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service, join the award-winning author and poet Owen Sheers, who has created the film-poem To Provide All People. Based upon 70 hours of interviews, it documents the history of the NHS’s birth in 1948 and tells the intimate story of its daily life through 24 hours in a regional hospital. Personal, political, poetic, it charts an emotional and philosophical map from patients to surgeons, porters to midwives.
Joseph Jebelli & Tim Parks
WINDING A CLEAR PATH
Sunday 26 August 16:00 - 17:00
Making complex issues clear for a reader is a talent that few writers possess. Tim Parks has it in spades as he demonstrates in his attempt to dissect current thinking on consciousness in his latest work, Out of My Head. So too has Joseph Jebelli, who, since realising his beloved grandfather had Alzheimer's, has been exploring the ongoing fight against the disease. In Pursuit of Memory is his personal and professional study. Chaired by Susan Mansfield.
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