Reading My Way Through A Year Like No Other

Well, what can I say about 2020 that hasn’t been said already? If ever there was a need to read for escapism it was this year. So, you’d think that my annual reading total would’ve rocketed. You’d be wrong. In fact, this year I read 53 books, only two down on last year’s number and like previous years, roughly one a week.


Lockdown earlier in the year was when we probably had the best weather which is ideal for reading in the sunshine but also great for gardening and going local walks which is why I think my reading habits didn’t change dramatically. My taste in writers and genres was much the same too.


I read several great memoirs – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney, Hungry by Grace Dent, My Heart’s Content by Angela Hughes and If You Don’t Know Me by Now by Sathnam Sangerha (as recommended by the excellent The Big Scottish Book Club superbly hosted by Damian Barr – catch up with it over the festive season on BBC iPlayer if you missed it).


Fiction favourites? It’s an eclectic mix and it’s always hard to pick only a handful but the ones that will stick with me are Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, Boy Parts by Eliza Clark, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong, When All Is Said by Anne Griffin, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan and Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes.


Special mention must be made to Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. A worthy winner of the Booker Prize with characters I cared about, especially wee Shuggie and his memorable mammy, Agnes.


I hope books have helped you cope with the strangest of times too. Any recommendations for me to look forward to reading in the new year?

 

Weegie Wednesday

a.aaa-student-life (1)I’m lucky to be able to work part-time which means that now that my youngest is at Strathclyde uni I’m able to fit in a trip to Glasgow each week to take him for a meal, bring him some treats and slip him some cash (an expensive outing!). Wednesday is usually the day we meet and it dawned on me that maybe I should go along to Weegie Wedneday while I was in Glasgow anyway. (For any non–Scottish readers – Weegie (n) A slang term for a person from Glasgow).

thisoneI’d ‘liked’ the Weegie Wednesday Facebook page ages ago but I’d never got round to attending any of their monthly literacy networking events. Weegie Wednesday provides an opportunity for writers, poets, publishers, booksellers, librarians, creative writing students or anyone else with an interest to get together socially to talk about books, writing and publishing.

When I read that the April event featured Liam Murray Bell and David Ross, it seemed like the perfect chance to finally get my act in gear and get myself to the venue at the Terrace Bar of the Centre of Contemporary Arts.

last-days-of-disco_December-with-quotes-resized-275x423I was particularly intrigued to hear more about David’s debut novel,  The Last Days of Disco . Apart from my publisher, only 5 other folk on the planet have read my novel pre-publication and one of them is Isabel Costello, who recommended I read David’s book as it reminded her of my own novel. I haven’t read the book yet but after listening to David, I can see how it could be compared to mine. His book is set in 1982, mine in 1985, his book is about adolescence, family, music, emerging sexuality and set in a small Scottish town – my book has the same themes and backdrop. Reviews of David’s book also mention the use of humour which is a key element of my writing too so I can’t wait to read David’s book and see if these similarities match up. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to talk to David in person at Weegie Wednesday but if his presentation was anything to go by I’m sure I’ll love his writing.

The other guest speaker was Liam Murray Bell. I attended the launch of Liam’s last book, The Busker, and it was interesting to hear him talk again, this time about how he juggles his day job as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stirling uni (where I did my MLitt) with his own writing.

After inputs from the guest speakers, the idea of Weegie Wednesday is to meet new folk. I’d arrived early for the event and immediately struck up a conversation with a friendly looking face, Catherine Hokin, whose debut historical novel, Blood and Roses, will be published in June. I was joined by two of my MLitt classmates, Angela and Paul, and we soon got chatting to others. I also crossed paths for the second time with Katie White, a screenwriter from Falkirk who has written an award winning film, Middle Man.

To be in the company of interesting friends, old and new, in a pub in Glasgow full of creative types isn’t a bad way to spend a Wednesday night is it?

images