Book Week Scotland (BWS) is an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place across the country and I love it both as a reader and a writer.
This year’s theme was ‘blether’ to encourage people of all ages and walks of life to come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. For me, it meant clocking up 259 miles to get to 6 very different events.
To kick off BWS, I was lucky to get the chance to meet readers at Fallin Library on the outskirts of Stirling. I’m sure the warm welcome by Linda, the librarian, not to mention the home baking and tea enticed the audience to venture out on a bitterly cold afternoon to attend the event. I’d guess that the average age of the audience was 78 and blether was the perfect fit for this group who loved the banter.
I had a quick turnaround for an outfit change (Fallin Library was very warm – need I say more!) before I made my way to Grangemouth Library where I hosted Falkirk Libraries Writing Rammy prize giving event. It was a real pleasure to meet such a talented group of writers and an absolute privilege to hear them read out their winning poems and short stories. Very inspiring!
On Tuesday night I could relax as I was in the audience rather than on the stage. This BWS event was organised by In Motion Theatre, a Scottish-based theatre company who worked with 15 writers to create a 10-minute play inspired by their favourite book. I was there to support my writing pal, Alison Gray, whose piece was called Selkie Story inspired by Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales by Theresa Breslin. It was an interesting evening as all five plays were very different and had the potential to be developed into longer pieces.
Another day, another BWS event and Wednesday found me travelling to the Stirling Campus of Forth Valley College. I was there to hear Kerry Hudson talk about her memoir, Lowborn describing the challenges she faced growing up in poverty. I’ve read all of Kerry books and it was lovely to meet her in person. I’ve got huge respect for Kerry sharing her traumatic story and feel it’s a ‘must read’ for anyone working with children. It’s not an easy read but a very worthwhile one.
On Thursday, I headed east to visit Broughton High School in Edinburgh to work with Higher English pupils on their creative writing. I really enjoy working with groups to help them express themselves in words and hopefully the pupils I met will build on the ideas and tips from the session to develop their writing in school and beyond.
That night, I attended the final BWS event for me which was held in Wishaw Library where I went to hear Melanie Reid discuss her memoir, The World I Fell Out Of. I’m ashamed to admit that until reading Melanie’s book I’d never really considered how someone paralysed by a spinal injury manages to cope on a daily basis. It really made me stop and think about how lucky I am to be able-bodied and I’d challenge anyone to read it and not be moved and inspired by her story.
So, it was a busy week for me zig zagging across central Scotland and I thoroughly enjoyed every event. As a reader, I got to meet 2 authors I admire, I saw 5 short plays and as a writer I got to meet readers and new writers of the future. What’s not to love about a week where it’s all about books and reading?