We bring you this issue just in time for this year's Book Week Scotland, which will run from 18th to the 24th November. Over the week there will be hundreds of events in bookshops, libraries, schools and other venues across Scotland, as well as publications, a digital festival, and writing campaigns. And as we love to talk about books here at BooksfromScotland, it suits us just fine that this year's theme for the celebrations is Blether. Here we bring you some great fiction, memoir, natural history and childrens' books guaranteed to to get a good conversation going.

For over 10 years The Big Issue magazine has asked some of the best known figures in sport, politics, business and entertainment  to talk about their younger selves and to offer advice to that person they once were. Here we share extracts from interviews with two of BooksfromScotland’s favourite writers, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.


Letter to My Younger Self: 100 Inspiring People on the Moments That Shaped Their Lives Devised and edited by Jane Graham Published by Blink Publishing


Val McDermid

At 16 I was preparing for my Oxford entrance exam. I was very driven and pushed myself in everything. I played hockey for the first eleven in the East of Scotland. I played guitar and sang in folk clubs. I won debating prizes. Everything I did, I wanted to do really well.

I was very much of the working-class generation that thought education was the key to doing well in life. My parents were bright people who passed their exams to go to high school but they had to leave at 14 because their families couldn’t afford it. They never got to reach their potential, so they very much encouraged me not to be trapped by circumstances. But my parents had mixed feelings about my going to Oxford. It was a long way from Kirkcaldy – the only time we’d gone to England was a weekend in Blackpool. And it was a long way intellectually as well. So I think they were really a bit nervous for me, as well as very proud. But I think they saw that I was always going to go my own way.

I became aware when I was at Oxford that I was drawing a line between my past and my future. I couldn’t articulate this when I was 16, but I think I wanted to spread my wings because of my sexuality. There were no lesbians in Fife in the ‘60s. I knew I felt different, and quite lonely, listening to Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell on my own, feeling that sen...


Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin / Christopher Whyte is a poet in Gaelic, a novelist in English, and the translator from Russian of the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva (1892–1941). After teaching at the universities of Rome, Edinburgh and Glasgow, he moved in 2006 to Budapest where he writes full-time. His sixth collection Ceum air cheum / Step by step, with facing English translations by Niall O’Gallagher, is published by Acair, and has been shortlisted for the Saltire Poetry Book for the Year 2019. This is his poem in the latest New Writing Scotland collection, Sound of an Iceberg.


‘Mo Shearmon’ / ‘The Way I Talk’ By Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin / Christopher Whyte Taken from Sound of an Iceberg: New Writing Scotland 37 Published by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies



Mo shearmon siùbhlach struthlach deifreach,




David Robinson Reviews: The Crown Agent & Death in the East click

David Robinson Reviews: The Crown Agent & Death in the East

‘Some stories can never be told. Some mysteries are so rooted in darkness they can never be set down, even now, here in my study, where a cheerful fire crackles in the hearth.’


The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: A Q & A with Robert J. Harris click

The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: A Q & A with Robert J. Harris

‘You really shoud stick to the facts,’ Ham advised. ‘I know you Artie. You won’t be able to resist throwing in some pirates and a centaur.’


Lee Randall Reviews: This is Yesterday by Rose Ruane click

Lee Randall Reviews: This is Yesterday by Rose Ruane

‘Meticulously, they avoid reminiscence.’


The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven click

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

‘Sermons can be so difficult! But look at you You’ve just listened to one Very beautifully How clever are you’


‘Good Listeners’ by Brian Hamill click

‘Good Listeners’ by Brian Hamill

‘I’ve seen him on here before, you know, doing the same thing with other people, other girls, you know, trying that old carry-on.’


The Social Lives of Mongooses click

The Social Lives of Mongooses

‘So for social mongooses there is enough food to go around for the whole group, and having another individual beside you while looking for food does not completely ruin your chances of finding a meal. …


The Glasgow Effect click

The Glasgow Effect

‘It was alienation, anger and frustration that pushed me into creating The Glasgow Effect in the first place. It was a scream, which was then amplified by the city.’


Even the Sparrow click

Even the Sparrow

‘Over the course of the next few years I get an indispensable education. How to cultivate safe, welcoming and inclusive space. How to honour the dignity of each individual and how to coax them to shar …


Literary Devolutions click

Literary Devolutions

‘How late it was, how late is a heroic monument to the freedom and resilience of the individual subject. . .’