A couple of years ago, we published one of our most successful blog posts ever, Top 10 Literary Glasgow, in which we celebrated the vibrant and exciting literary scene in Glasgow. A lot has changed since then, but our love of literature in Glasgow certainly hasn’t diminished. Check out our list of some more of our favourite literary ventures in our beloved city, compiled by SWC’s Literary Editor Rachel Walker.
Run by the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing department and funded by the Ferguson Bequest, Creative Conversations brings a diverse and talented bunch of writers of all disciplines to the University of Glasgow chapel for fascinating chats about the writing process, their upcoming works and what inspires them as writers. Oh, and they events are also free. You can look at the programme here: time to get excited about your new creative Mondays!
Often overlooked in comparison with its more famous (and hectic) neighbour Voltaire & Rousseau – which is, admittedly, a must-visit for all book lovers – Caledonia Books has the undoubted advantage of actually having a comprehensive shelving system and an organised shopfloor. A few years ago, I picked up a slightly damaged edition of Northanger Abbey from 1907 for the meagre sum of £7.50. You can find this beautiful second-hand and antiquarian bookshop at 483 Great Western Road.
If the stunning facade isn’t enough to tempt you into the Mitchell Library, then maybe the fact that the Mitchell is one of Europe’s largest public libraries, boasts over one million items of stock and has a mammoth archive specialising in Glasgow history will do the trick. The library hosts the majority of Aye Write! Festival events, and is a proud champion of Glasgow’s invaluable contribution to literature.
Glasgow has a plethora of spoken word nights, all of which play host to scores of energising new voices. One of the best-known poetry nights has to be Poetry at Inn Deep, the bi-monthly event hosted by Sam Small. The ten minutes allotted to each speaker is significantly longer than that offered by similar nights, so there’s plenty of time to soak up the lyrical words of your new favourite poet. Get down early to avoid disappointment.
Did you know that Glasgow Zine Fest is the biggest programme in the UK dedicated to zines, and that it culminates in the biggest self-publishing fair in Scotland? Keep the 14th and 15th of April 2018 free for this fantastic event, and take part in two days of workshops, screenings, talks and socials: what Glasgow Zine Fest’s website describes as ‘a weekend of making, duplicating and sharing’. Zines are the perfect antidote to today’s internet-obsessed world: thoughtful, arty and hand-crafted, why not give one a go?
Perennially under-funded and underused, libraries just don’t get the love they deserve. Explore Glasgow Libraries’ online catalogue and you might be surprised at just how many great books the 32 local libraries of Glasgow possess. If all book-lovers borrowed just one or two books a year, and spent more time under their (free to use) roofs, maybe we could help to reverse the decline of libraries… (Who needs e-books anyway?!)
If you study literature at the University of Glasgow, it’s probably inevitable that you’ll come across Alasdair Gray at some point. For me, it was reading the magical Poor Things in my first year of English literature that formed my introduction to one of Glasgow’s most famous writers. As Gray wisely says in his masterpiece Lanark, ‘if a city hasn’t been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.’ Time to inhabit Glasgow’s imagination: and what better way to start than by spotting places you know in Gray’s Glasgow-based novels?
Young’s Interesting Books
Another second-hand bookshop, this cabinet of curiosities located in the south side does exactly what it says in the title: delivers interesting books to Glasgow’s wide array of book-lovers. If, like me, you have a tendency to stay rooted to the West End and the city centre, then Young’s Interesting Books is the ideal excuse to stray south.
In September, this tiny weekend book festival – a collaboration between Visit West End, Oxfam, Waterstones and Glasgow Life – hosted brilliant writers such as Maggie O’Farrell, Gail Honeyman and Malachy Tallack. It’s only in its second year, but it’s definitely a book festival to look out for in the future.
Glasgow’s independent publishers
Although we’re sad to see award-winning Freight Books go, we’re happy to say that the rest of Glasgow’s independent publishers are still producing outstanding books. All publishers, including Ringwood Publishing – who recently saw the launch of their book celebrating the history and recipes of popular Glasgow restaurant Koh-i-Noor – and innovative Vagabond Voices, are reasons to be thankful for Glasgow’s wonderful literary scene.
Words by Rachel Walker
Image credit: Ghost Signs, Wikipedia.org, Will Freeborn, La Vie Zine
Is there anything you think we missed? Do you have any recommendations for the book-lovers of Glasgow? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!