The Big Read is Back!

🔎 Just in case you haven’t heard, we’re back and ready for another year of the Napier Big Read! 🔎

Through this site we aim to give you regular updates about the progress of the Big Read and what you can do to help or get involved.

Our first ask… if you haven’t already PLEASE fill out our survey to tell us your experiences of the Napier Big Read so far. It won’t take long and it’s the only way we can be sure the Big Read will go ahead this year! 📚

The survey link is here:




Book Launch – 1 March 2018

As you might have seen, the #NapierBigRead is well and truly underway and we are ramping up activity in the lead-up to our book launch on:
World Book Day – Thursday 1 March 2018.
Copies of Detective McLevy’s Casebook will be available for all students and staff across the whole university!
More details will be posted soon. Meantime, keep up to date by following our social media activity:

Staff Views: Avril Gray – Programme Leader of Publishing & University Lead on the Big Read

Welcome to Staff Views! Here, you’ll meet key figures from Edinburgh Napier Big Read staff. This week, we turn the spotlight on Avril Gray, Associate Professor and Programme Leader of MSc Publishing. Avril is this year’s University Lead on the #NapierBigRead and head of the team bringing Detective McLevy’s Casebook to you all.

What excites you about the Big Read? 

Everything! I’ve been working at Edinburgh Napier University for some time and what continually strikes me is how this University really celebrates the work and achievements of our students. This year the #NapierBigRead is actually a book our students produced! Other students are getting the chance to read it, to discuss it, and to use it to shout about the great work they are doing. I’ve loved making new connections with other staff and students, and finding out about what students on other programmes are achieving.

Why do you think the benefits of the Big Read scheme are for all students and staff, not just those who are already book lovers or studying literature? 

We are all lifelong learners. Learning means reading. Whether you are studying a physical text or downloading a book for pleasure (did you know our library has 122,000 eBooks?), we are reading all the time. I’ve conducted some research into the claim that people are reading less, but this is not true. We are just reading differently, accessing a variety of resources, digital and physical. And I don’t agree that we should put barriers up to reading, or say that one type of reading is better than another. (And I know I started that last sentence with “and” – my point is, don’t judge, as this can create a barrier to connection.)

Why do you think Detective McLevy’s Casebook is a good choice for this year’s Big Read? 

Well, firstly I have to say because our students produced it! It is truly student-led. Our students asked other students what they wanted in the book – so even the size was decided by students! One of the reasons we chose it is that it is set in Edinburgh. Another reason is that it shines a light on the real Sherlock Holmes! Detective McLevy was a real detective working the streets of Edinburgh and was the acknowledged inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Also, he comes from Armagh, where I am from, so that’s a nice personal connection – and actually illustrates how much people from other parts of the world have contributed to the place we live in. There are lots of other reasons why this book is a great choice – get in touch to find out more!

What message would you pass on to new readers of Detective McLevy’s Casebook?  

It’s a book of short stories. Crime stories. Even if you don’t like crime stories, the stories are short, so you can dip into the book and find out more about the criminal underbelly of old Edinburgh. You’ll see the city differently as you read about life here just after the famous bodysnatchers, Burke and Hare, were roaming our cobbled streets!

Meet the rest of the team


Meet our team: Grace Balfour-Harle – Student Liaison

Another Monday, another ‘Meet Our Team’! This week we’re talking to postgrad student Grace Balfour-Harle about her role as Student Liaison, her experience with #NapierBigRead and the upcoming release of Detective McLevy’s Casebook

Describe your role in the Big Read? What is it that you do?

I am the Student Liaison which means I represent the Napier Big Read team when coordinating with externals, and directly to the students. I have conducted interviews with some external volunteers, and am in discussion with all the class representatives for our big launch date on World Book Day on 1st March 2018.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Big Read scheme?

At my undergraduate university, there was a kind of Big Read scheme, but nothing really was done about it beyond the academic side of it, so I was really excited to get involved with Napier’s Big Read team and send the message directly to the students.

Why do you think this project is important for the university?

A shared reading programme brings people together who wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. A more cohesive university will allow students and staff to learn more about each other, and ultimately become better people. The Napier Big Read is not going to bring everyone together, but every small action will result in one big movement for the betterment of the university.

Why should students be enthusiastic about the Big Read?

This is a student-run project, making it very easy for students to get behind it. Who gets students more than students? It has the aim of pulling us all together, which is one of the stand-firsts of Edinburgh Napier University. We are one team, and so the Napier Big Read allows students to connect with everyone and anyone, bringing our team closer together.

How can students get involved?

There are so many things that you can do to get involved, including just reading the book! It might inspire you to set up an event, or just have a nice coffee shop chat with a friend. Societies can theme one of their meetings around the book; Sports could play a game dressed in Victorian dress, or run a themed social. It really just depends on your imagination.

Just for fun, what’s your favourite book?

I have a few books that I’ve re-read continuously from childhood like the Anne of Green Gables series, Harry Potter, and The Great Gatsby. I also love all of Charles Dickens’ work. But obviously, at the moment, my favourite book is Detective McLevy’s Casebook.