Home, Family and Community
With summer almost over, it's time to turn to the comforts of home and what sustains us as the seasons change. This month, BooksfromScotland recommends the best in new Scottish writing - from memoir, social history and travel, to fiction, childrens' books and poetry - that celebrate these comforts, and will hopefully leave you feeling nourished and inspired.
A Tomb with a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards By Peter Ross Published by Headline
Whether with a ton of earth above us or an hour and a half at 900C in the incinerator, all our stories come to an end sometime. Opt for the former, though, and there is at least a sliver of hope of an afterlife. One day over the rainbow, Peter Ross might wander into your graveyard, notebook in hand.
It helps if you have had an interesting life or death. The first barmaid in England to have been eaten by a tiger (Hannah Twynoy, 23 October 1703, Malmesbury) makes it into his pages. So does the first woman to be bayoneted while fighting as a soldier in the British Army and then live until 108 (Phoebe Hessel, 12 December, 1821). But let’s face it, once you’ve stood in front of their lichened graves and read the inscriptions, unless you’re writing a biography, what else is there to say? Fascinating these lives may have been – and Ross is right, Hessel’s is a BBC drama series waiting to happen – but they have all reached a full stop. What can a writer add?
Quite a lot, as it happens, because there is always a lot more to say about death, especially in an age like ours which tries to block it out with an ocean of trivia. In 1859, when Jules Verne visited Edinburgh, he noted that, among the city’s haute bourgeoisie, one of the most popular destinations for a Sunday afternoon stroll was around the well-maintained paths and gardens of Warriston Cemetery. The Royal Botanic Garden had opened nearby just 40 years earlier, but to the promenading mid-Victorians, taking a gentle stroll around a garden...
Extract taken from The Garden Cure: Cultivating Our Wellbeing and Growth By Jan Cameron Published by Saraband
Community gardens come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Some can be several acres, others can be the size of a typical council house back garden. Some are managed as a part of a much bigger mental health, environmental or social organisation; some are national, some are small, individual and local. They can also vary in management styles. As part of a big organisation, some gardens have a paid staff team and have to adhere to company rules and guidelines...
‘I wanted to write a funny, true, and heartbreaking book that showed a friendship in its entirety.’
‘More otters live in Scotland than anywhere else in Britain.’
‘Whatever it takes to mark these patient, keepie-uppie days; waiting for him to come home again.’
‘Her ballads were hearty songs full of mythmaking, and her lyrical voice was pulled along by their bounding beat. They were lustful and intemperate, eerie and portentous, and sometimes humorous.’
‘She felt her pulse thrum in her throat and forced a long, slow breath, hearing the quiver of it in the shell of the car. It’s fine. Everything will be fine.’
‘I would feel I have succeeded if people can become more comfortable to talk about their own death and that of others.’
‘We are for menstrual equity: a society in which the simple biological fact of bleeding doesn’t hold anyone back from participating fully in society, or in life.’
‘At times of crisis and disenchantment – and at many other times too, even before we attempt to learn from our mistakes and chart a way forward – we need to remind ourselves why. Why did we set out on …
‘The perception that further autonomy was not possible within Spain, and the trend towards recentralisation by Spanish central authorities led a large number of Catalan voters to shift towards demandi …