Category Archives: Books

Aye Write – wrong to miss!

Aye write stage, GlasgowI charge across the city after work – arriving out of breath at the Mitchell Library where I follow the vibrant stripes of Aye Write for Pauline Black’s  talk.

This vivacious woman is lead singer of the ska band Selecta, originally formed in 1979.  But tonight isn’t about music.  Tonight she’s talking about her powerful autobiography, Black by Design, charting her life in three stages:

  1. Early childhood as Pauline Vickers – who at the age of four finds out she’s adopted.
  2. The construction of her identity.  She changes her name to Pauline Black,  recognising her ethnicity – something that her adopted white parents alarmingly refused to acknowledge.
  3. Discovering her birth mother –  and her original name Belinda Magnus

With its high ceilings and stain glassed windows,  the Main Hall is like being in someone’s front room – the stage is equally welcoming with two armchairs for poet and novelist Jackie Kay  (who I’m just as thrilled to hear) and Pauline.

Right there – living in the moment

We gather in and Pauline brings us into her fascinating life, sharing extracts from her book that remarkably is both shocking and humorous.  She speaks in a way that takes us there with her in the moment.

Fascinating – not to be missed

This is what Aye Write is about – a magical opportunity to eavesdrop on fascinating discussions, get the lowdown on latest books and insights into unusual subjects.  This festival is not to be missed and is only on for a few more days – so check out the latest programme.   Whether it’s experiencing ’12 minutes of love’  through tango or hearing about trekking across the Antarctic , there’s truly something for everyone.

So snap up tickets while they’re still there for the taking – you’ll be glad you did.

– B

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The quest for the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist

Christmas shopping for my husband is normally frustrating and challenging – but not this year.

Combining his love of books and politics I set off on a trawl of the West End’s second hand bookshops in search of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist .

Alba Musik – rare books and music lovers

First stop, Alba Musik on Otago Street , a shop ‘run by a musician for musicians’ that stocks rare books and sheet music.  Calm instantly washes over me as I’m greeted by a tangible house of books – the wall is a neatly stacked masterpiece of words and wonder. The owner is lovely and incredibly helpful, trying to help me in my quest for The Philanthropist.  And although, in the end, we don’t find it, I’ve discovered a magical solitude and managed to pick up another Christmas present just the same. 

Voltaire and Rousseau – welcome to the world of discovery

Voltaire book shopEncouraged, my next stop is Voltaire and Rousseau on Otago Lane.  This enchanting hide-away is to be admired.  Around since the early 1970’s, there’s piles of books balancing precariously on each other – everywhere you turn another book – really barely room to move.  

You can’t rush in a place like this and really why would you want to.  Instead dive in –  bury yourself in the wonderful world of books; there’s hours of searching and discovery at your fingertips.   To my delight I’m told they recently had a copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist – to my dismay, someone has beaten me to it.  I leave my name and number just in case another resurfaces.

Caledonia Books – literary lounge heaven

Undeterred I’m onto Caledonia Books.  This quaint bookshop has been around for the last 25 years and the owners have successfully created complete comfort in the wee lounge area tucked away from piles of books that guard the wrought iron spiral staircase.  As Kafka says “A good book is the best friend there is.”  And in this solace I am truly surrounded by friends – though unfortunately The Philanthropist is not among them.   And so I move on.

Create your own tale – this Christmas support your local bookstore

Admittedly with a few clicks of the mouse I could probably find The Philanthropist online – but the utter joy and satisfaction in finding it tucked between the shelves of one of these captivating bookshops is worth so much more.   And of course there’s also the story of the chase! 

I may not have found the book (yet) but I have managed to lose myself in magical world of discovery for the afternoon – in fact  it’s some of the most pleasurable Christmas shopping I’ve done, even if I’m still two steps behind The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.

The quest continues.

– B