Scotland’s Secret Book Sculptures

It’s amazing, really, how one person can add so much wonder to the world.

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Posted in , Oct 2, 2015

One of Scotland's secret sculptures, bits on wonder discovered in Edinburgh.

I just returned from Ireland and Scotland and have much to report. But first, I thought I’d share one small wonder I stumbled upon on day three of my trip.

Last Tuesday, I found myself with a few hours to spare in Edinburgh and decided to track down one of Scotland’s mysterious book sculptures.

A few months ago, I read about these literary works of art that had been popping up around Edinburgh. An anonymous artist created whimsical sculptures from the pages of old books and hid them around different museums and libraries throughout the city.

I was instantly charmed by the project. After all, every Christmas I take on the persona of the Mysterious Ways Office Elf. And I once hid a letter inside one of my college library’s old copies of Pride and Prejudice. (That reminds me, if you found my letter, please write back!).

The mystery artist left behind sculptures at the Scottish Poetry Library, not too far from my hotel, so I took a walk there. Only, the library was nowhere to be found! I asked around and learned it was undergoing renovations. What a bummer. When would I ever get the chance to see the sculptures again?

On the way back to the hotel, though, I passed by the Scottish Storytelling Centre. I vaguely remembered reading about a sculpture that had been left there as well. What did I have to lose? I stepped inside and approached the woman at the front desk.

“I wanted to see the paper book sculpture…?” I said. 

She smiled, pointed over shoulder. “Over there,” she said, a twinkle in her eye.

In a glass case sat a paper dragon’s egg with a miniature dragon inside. The note that accompanied the sculpture said:

“For @scotstorycenter

A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…

Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest

And in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon

And in the dragon was a story…”

I walked out of the Storytelling Centre with an extra pep in my step, thrilled to have found this tiny work of wonder while on vacation. I’ll never forget it. And I can only imagine the delight the librarians and museum staffers must’ve felt upon discovering the unexpected sculptures in the first place.

It’s amazing, really. How one person can add so much wonder to the world. And you don’t have to build a sculpture out of books. It can be as simple as leaving a gift of candy in a friend’s coat pocket, doodling a sweet drawing on your next restaurant bill and, yes, even hiding a love letter inside a copy of Pride and Prejudice!

Now I’m feeling inspired to spread wonder…creatively. I’ll track my progress here.

What about you? How do you spread wonder? Any fun ideas you’d like me to attempt?

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