PART OF THE Summer in the City ISSUE

A few favourites from BFS

We’re in the final glorious days of summertime, and not ready to pull out our woolly jumpers quite yet. (Let’s be honest, a few of us only just put them away.) So, before the nights start drawing in and whilst we can still justifiably lose ourselves in an evening BBQ until one o’clock in the morning, it seems like the perfect time to talk about some of the best reads of the summer.


For Going Away

Want an entertaining little number for those lazy afternoons on a beach or in a European café?

Glad you asked – Graeme Macrae Burnet’s The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Saraband) is set in a French bistro, where protagonist Manfred Baumann is obsessed with his alluring waitress. When she disappears, he is forced to confront his own dark past. Smart, imaginative and psychologically intriguing, this crime novel stands out from the pack.

At the other end of the spectrum, Animals (Canongate) by Emma Jane Unsworth is a filthy, funny, uproarious and refreshingly honest story about friendship and the morning after the night before. (The editor of this article laughed to the point of public embarrassment…and then gave her copy to the plane passenger next to her, upon request.)

Short story collections are perfect for dipping in and out of, and we love this one from Janice Galloway: Jellyfish (Freight) takes as its theme David Lodge’s assertion: ‘Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life’s the other way round.’ We hope you’re intrigued.

A Broken Hallelujah (Sandstone) by Leil Leibovitz is a revealing biography of music legend Leonard Cohen. Chosen as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, the book traces the man from his devout Canadian Jewish origins to his passionate following which continues to span generations.

We have long adored prose master Ali Smith, and this is her moment with the publication of How To Be Both (Hamish Hamilton). With a Man Booker shortlisting, Folio Prize nomination and Costa Novel Award forming just a few of its accolades, we’re sure we don’t need to say it, but please read this book!

For Staying Close to Home

Sometimes home holidays are just the best. Here are a few titles to help make it a summer to remember.

Or not remember, as the case may be. 101 Gins to Try Before You Die (Birlinn) needn’t be fully tested this summer, but it is an excellent guide for your sunny afternoon tipple. Funny, more than a little sceptical, and highly informed, we found this book to be just plain good reading, with or without a gin.

Evocative and beautifully written, The Gracekeepers (Harvill Secker) draws on Scottish folklore and fairytale, reimagining them in such a masterful way that the book has drawn comparisons to Angela Carter. Kirsty Logan’s debut novel follows two young women in a watery future, where the sea is home and access to land is a privilege. Replete with a circus and a troupe of characters you’re sure to fall in love with, this book is truly a delight.

With recipes fancy enough for entertaining, A Girl and Her Greens (Canongate) from renowned chef April Bloomfield make vegetables a truly special affair. The wonderful thing is that it’s really a book for all seasons (Swiss Chard Cannelloni this winter, anyone?!), but no moment better for veggies than the lovely green season upon us.

The Parlour Café Cookbook (Kitchen Press) by Gillian Veal and The Three Chimneys Cookbook (Mercat Press) by Shirley Spear offer destinations in their own right. Whether you venture to Dundee or Skye to visit the restaurants from which these recipes come, or whether you decide to bring their magic to your own kitchen, both of these cookbooks are chock-full of gorgeous recipes and, visually, are a real pleasure to look through.

Finally, it would be remiss of us not to remind you how rich, varied and beautiful our own landscape is. No better book to do the job than Scotland’s Landscapes (RCAHMS). These photographs will take your breath away, and (we suspect) tempt you to go and have a look for yourself.


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