Glasgow gangs -fiction and fact

Quite a Glasgow gangs season at the Mitchell in August – Liam McIlvanney’s new novel features rival gangs in the east end

and the week before we have Andrew DaviesCity of Gangs web.jpg

discussing how Glasgow became the “Scottish Chicago”. Find out more at the

Aye Write! website.


Friday blog June 21 – Gifted revisited

Were you lucky enough to see the fantastic paper sculptures in the Mitchell earlier this year? The Scottish Poetry Library website has a portal of information about the tour, image gallery and current whereabouts of the book sculptures.

If you didn’t catch the sculptures on tour, you could go and see them back home in Edinburgh – the website has a handy walking tour map showing the loaction of all the pieces. Or enjoy the sculptures from the comfort of home by watching a short film of each of the works – again you’ll find these on the Scottish Poetry Library website. What could be more relaxing?

Scottish Poetry Library Logo

Friday Blog May 31- The Art of Recommending Books

Please welcome back guest blogger Louloubelle

I have always tried to recommend books to people and I have recently realised that there is definitely a certain amount of chance and skill involved – a science if you will.

1)      Acquaintances are easier to recommend for.

You’ve just finished a book and whether or not you liked it you are absolutely sure your sister will L.O.V.E it,  in my case that usually involves everything turning out well for the main characters.  You say “you must read it you will love it!” Five days later it is back on your book shelf because “well it was a bit overly soppy” (the Twilight Series) or “it was a bit strange” (The Observations by Jane Harris).  But in a short conversation with your new workmates, you mention that Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is the best mix of Crime Mystery/Science Fiction/Fantasy and funny to boot – and they have read the whole series by the time you are back from holiday.  Go figure.

2)      Over-recommending is the Cardinal Sin

Try it. You’ll love it. Go on. Try it. Try it! It’s a fine line to walk between being right and being annoying.  You know they will love it but the decision does lie with the reader and sometimes overegging the pudding can just lead to disappointment when they don’t love it or when the twist at the end is 10 pages too early and is frankly underwhelming in face of its praise. Or as in a recent case your friend will simply abandon the copy of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian on the dinner table and silently leave it behind when they leave.

3)      Make sure you are right

So that when you tell your traumatised father that To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book and he answers that his evil English teacher ruined it for him you don’t buy him it for his birthday.

4)      Keep the best books for yourself

Selfish. Yes. Part of the secret. Absolutely.  Which is why I never strongly recommend the Mathew Shardlake series by CJ Sansom to anyone.  They are great and I want to keep them to myself.  So my one final recommendation of the many mentioned so far which I don’t want everyone to read because then everyone will know about it, but it really is worth a read is The President’s Hat.

Go on. You’ll really like it.

Friday Blog May 24 – what’s your perfect summer read?

The May/June edition of newbooks magazine – available in all Glasgow libraries! – has author Isabel Ashdown writing about “My five favourite summers” – her favourite literary scenes of summer. I realise that summer seems a distant prospect at times [it’s snowing not too far from here] but it set me wondering – what makes a perfect summer read? Is it a book set in the place you’re visiting – have you travelled to Spetses clutching a copy of The Magus, or read Jane Austen in Bath? Or do you enjoy a spot of armchair travelling – choosing a book to take you to a place you’d love to visit but can’t – maybe it’s set in the past or the future, in  a fantasy land, or is just too far away?

Get in touch if you’d like to share your perfect summer read.

For the record, Isabel Ashdown’s are:

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

The Wild by Esther Freud

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

You can read the reasons for her choices in the magazine at your local Glasgow library.