I wouldn’t normally recommend getting lost when you’re in Scotland, but I’ll make an exception for Book Week. Taking place all across the country from 24 – 30 November, Book Week Scotland is a celebration of books, reading and all things literature, not to mention a great excuse to get lost in a great story.
If Scotland doesn’t yet appear on your world reading map, now’s the perfect time to explore some of the country’s rich literature. I’m planning on reading Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic Sunset Song and How to Be Both, the latest novel from one of my favourite Scottish writers, Ali Smith – have a look at our writer profiles for many more ideas.
As well as getting stuck into a good book or two, you can fuel your need for reads with some of the brilliant workshops, performances and activities taking place during Book Week Scotland 2014. The line-up features hundreds of events spanning all genres, so whether you’re a history buff, a budding illustrator, a keen cook or a sports fanatic, you’re sure to find an event to inspire you.
Scroll down to find just a few of the highlights happening near you:
Bestiary Bake Off
Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen, 28 November
Take inspiration from the Aberdeen Bestiary, a book of beasts thought to date from the 12th century, and get cooking at the Bestiary Bake-Off. No booking needed, just some baking skills and lots of creativity!
The Big Book Theory
Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen, 26 November
Teenage bookworms can prove they know their Scott from their Stevenson at the Big Book Theory, a lively literature quiz for teens. Questions will cover all genres, with prizes for winners and the most inventive team name.
Mearns Community Library, 26 November
An author, musician and lifelong storyteller, Jess Smith was born into a large family of Scottish Travellers and has gone on to write six books, including the bestselling Jessie’s Journey. Hear her recount her incredible stories in Laurencekirk on 26 November.
Gruffalos, Witches and Weans
Cove Burgh Hall, 30 November
First published in 1999, Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo has delighted little ones around the globe for the past 15 years. The much-loved picture book has now been translated into Scots, and will be brought to life by translator James Robertson at this fun family reading.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Author
Cove Burgh Hall, 29 November
One of Scotland’s best-known presenters and journalists, Kirsty Wark recently made the move from fact to fiction with her debut novel The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, a historic romance set on the Isle of Arran. Hear her discuss the book and its inspirations with fellow author Janice Galloway.
All at Sea – Everything You Didn’t Know About Sailing and Wish You’d Asked
Cove Burgh Hall, 29 November
When it comes to sailing, there’s not much Ian Nicholson can’t tell you. Author of more than 20 books on boat building, sailing and design, he joins Book Week Scotland to share his love of the sea and answer your questions on all things nautical.
Dick Institute Library, Kilmarnock, 26 – 28 November
Earlier this year Glasgow Women’s Library published 21 Revolutions, a collection of visual art and writing by talented female artists. Following launches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the collection now arrives in Kilmarnock accompanied by two of its brilliant authors, Anne Donovan and Kirsty Logan.
Louis Goes to the Library
Carnegie Library, Ayr, 29 November
We all love our pets, but how many of us go as far as to write a series of books about them?! Gillian Muir’s dog, Louis, is the star of his very own series, available in English, French and Dutch. Come and meet the celebrity canine and his owner to hear all about his latest adventures.
Imprint 2014 Writing Award Prize Giving
Dick Institute Library, Kilmarnock, 28 November
Launched to help emerging Ayrshire writers, the Imprint Writing Award is awarded for prose or poetry to writers based in the region. Hear the finalists read from their work over a glass of wine at the prize giving ceremony, presented by bestselling author Zoë Strachan.
An Interview with Ann Cleeves
Montrose Library, 26 November
Ann Cleeves is one of Britain’s best contemporary crime writers, even joining the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie in the Crime Thriller Hall of Fame a few years back. Hear her talk about her illustrious career, including the TV adaptations of her Shetland and Vera Stanhope series.
Storytelling on the Unicorn
HM Frigate Unicorn, 29 November
Climb aboard the HM Frigate Unicorn, the 19th century navy ship now docked in Dundee’s Victoria dock, for a morning full of stories for little bookworms and their parents or guardians.
The Crime Writing Farmer
Carnoustie Library, 27 November
When he’s not busy tending to his Highland cattle and sheep, farmer James Oswald spends his time penning bestselling crime and fantasy fiction from his home in Fife. Discover the inspiration behind his phenomenal debut Natural Causes, selected as a Richard and Judy Summer Read in 2013.
Tales in the Tower
St Giles’ Cathedral, 24 – 30 November
For one week only, St Giles’ Cathedral opens its roof to offer special tours with a literary theme. Groups of just four lucky visitors will get a rare chance to admire the clockwork and bells, listen to stories and poems with a connection to the cathedral, and admire beautiful views over the Royal Mile – email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place.
Pitch Your Book
Looking Glass Books, 27 November
Ready to turn the first draft of your novel into a shiny new paperback? A must for all aspiring writers, this workshop gives you the chance to pitch your synopsis to agents from Jenny Brown Associates Literary Agency and receive invaluable advice on what to do next.
Graphic Novel Workshop with Malcy Duff
West Lothian College, 27 November
Malcy Duff is an award-winning cartoonist from Edinburgh whose work includes the ‘Rrobots’ anthology. Having exhibited in Ireland, Finland, Australia, Israel and all over the UK, he now visits Livingston for a one-off graphic novel workshop for budding cartoonists of all levels.
Dragon Tales – Quest for a Cave
Haddington Library, 27 November
Emily, a small blue dragon, lives with her family in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. When they learn that a holiday camp is being built near their glen, they must escape the scary humans and find a new home… Intrigued? Find out what happens next at this storytelling event for children by Alison Jones.
Glasgow Women’s Library, 27 November
Since October, Glasgow Women’s Library have been accepting submissions for their third annual Dragon’s Pen event. Hear the finalists’ stories and poems and cheer them on as they face the panel of not-so-scary ‘dragons’, made up of published writers and Women’s Library staff.
True Confessions of Professional Liars
The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, 26 November
Illicit Ink hosts a night of true confessions from top Scottish writers and performers. While all are adept in the art of fiction, at this event they’ll be revealing their shameful secrets and deepest embarrassments. They can tell any stories they like, as long as they’re true!
Scottish Youth Theatre, 28 – 30 November
Wild Heather is a princess, but she’s happiest when climbing trees, running through glens and dancing until the wee hours. On the night before her birthday, she slips away from the castle and sets off on an exciting journey – find out where it leads with this interactive adventure for ages 3 – 7.
Astrosaurs vs. Cows in Action
South West Library, Greenock, 29 November
Meet the cast of crime-fighting cows and detective dinosaurs in Astrosaurs vs Cows in Action, a crossover of two of author Steve Cole’s fantastic adventure series. Ideal for ages 8 to 12, join him in Greenock to hear him answer questions and read from his hilariously silly stories.
Writing for an Audience
Inverness Royal Academy, 24 November
Aspiring teenage writers can get advice on making their stories come alive with Keith Gray, a multi-award winner author of numerous books for kids and young adults, including Ostrich Boys and The Runner. Learn some tricks of the trade and hone your writing skills with this practical workshop.
Forensics in Fiction and Real Life
Macphail Theatre, Ullapool, 26 November
Delve into the field of forensics with Professor Dave Barclay, a world-renowned expert who has worked on some of Britain’s highest-profile murder cases. He’ll be discussing his acclaimed novel Everyone Lies and the forthcoming Believe No One, co-written with Margaret Murphy under the pseudonym A. D. Garrett.
Death Trips / Fas Cleachdte Ris
Sabhal Mor Ostaig Library, Skye, 27 November
In this double event at Skye’s Gaelic college, Dr Kirsten Norrie will discuss her work on George MacDonald, a visionary Scottish novelist and ‘father of fantasy fiction’, before leading a talk on Gaelic fairy belief with Professor Hugh Cheape.
A Beer, a Book and a Burger
Kirkcaldy Galleries, 25 November
Sink your teeth into meaty stories as two of Scotland’s bestselling crime writers, Christopher Brookmyre and Caro Ramsay, talk about their work over a beer and a tasty burger – the perfect way to ward off the winter chill.
Kirkcaldy Galleries, 27 November
When Kirkcaldy’s Raith Rovers took on footballing giants Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final twenty years ago, it seemed unthinkable that they could walk away winners – but that’s exactly what happened. Hear author and Rovers fan Steven Lawther discuss the David and Goliath story of Scottish football as told in his new book, Unthinkable.
The Funny Finale
Kirkcaldy Galleries, 30 November
Kirkcaldy Galleries’ Funny Finale honours one of the UK’s most ingenious storytellers, Roald Dahl. Pay tribute to the creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and join in the fun with an art lab, magician’s workshop, balloon creations, crazy crafts, lots of tasty treats and much more.
Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling, 25 November
Peter Jinks’ novel Hallam Foe was adapted for the screen in 2007, starring Jamie Bell as a young man dealing with his mother’s death. Find out more about the process of adaptation before enjoying a screening of the film, which is largely set in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.
St Ninians Library, Stirling, 25 November
Based in Glasgow, Anne Donovan is best known for her award-winning 2003 novel Buddha Da. Her latest book, Gone are the Leaves, is an entrancing Medieval romance written largely in Scots. Find out more about the book and her life as a writer as she visits Stirling for Book Week Scotland.
Sue Lawrence Cookery Talk
Cambusbarron Library, Stirling, 28 November
A former winner of BBC’s MasterChef, Sue Lawrence is a food columnist and author of numerous cookery books on Scottish food and drink. Enjoy a talk on her latest publication at Cambusbarron Library, and perhaps a few tasty samples, too.
Murder at the Ravenswick Hotel
Orkney Library & Archive, Kirkwall, 28 November
Become a character in a crime novel with this murder mystery written by Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope series. Performed by Orkney drama group the Palace Players, this interactive murder mystery will put your sleuth skills to the test as you try to catch the culprit.
Pirates: The Myth and the Reality
Orkney Library & Archive, Kirkwall, 27 November
Born in Aberdeen and raised in Orkney, Angus Konstam joined the Royal Navy before becoming a historian and pirate expert. Uncover the history behind the swashbuckling tales we know and love as he examines the fact and fiction surrounding pirates.
From the Fireside to the Bookshelf
Orkney Library & Archive, Kirkwall, 26 November
Born and bred in Orkney, Tom Muir’s storytelling has taken him to Sweden, Hong Kong and beyond. Here he talks of the changes in Orkney’s folktales, discussing the storytellers that have influenced him and examining the problems that can occur when writing down tales from the oral tradition.
Western Isles Folk Tales
Various locations, 26 – 28 November
Be enthralled by strange stories and eerie legends from across the Outer Hebrides as poet and author Ian Stephen discusses his new book, Western Isles Folk Tale, at readings in Tarbert, Lionacleit and Stornoway.
Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist, 27 November
Christine de Luca is one of Scotland’s foremost contemporary poets, writing in both English and the dialect of her native Shetland. Now Edinburgh Makar for 2014 – 2017, she’ll be reading from her work before leading by an open mic session for local talent – a real treat for poetry fans.
Stornoway Library, 26 November
Stornoway Library hosts a special Bookbug session for wee ones and their parents and guardians. Join in with rhymes, songs and stories, or browse the shelves to find new and exciting stories for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Just Imagine with Nick Sharratt
Scone Library, 29 November
Famed for his charming illustrations of Jacqueline Wilson’s books, Nick Sharratt will be drawing and talking about his much-loved work, including bestselling picture books such as Octopus Socktopus. He’ll also be appearing in Giffnock, Bishopbriggs and Bearsden – places are limited, so book now!
Storytelling Workshops for Children
Birnam Arts & Conference Centre, 29 November
Travel to far-off lands with Claire Hewitt, a Celtic harpist and traditional storyteller. Claire will run separate sessions for under 5s and ages 6 – 10, as well a special workshop where young storytellers will get the chance to regale their family and friends with funny tales.
From Model to Makar
Fishers Hotel, Pitlochry, 27 November
As well as being a poet, playwright, award-winning novelist and former Edinburgh Makar, Scottish Borders-born Ron Butlin is a highly entertaining speaker. Join him in Pitlochry for an evening of poetry and fiction, interspersed with tales of how he became a writer.
Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre, Peebles, 25 – 27 November
Join a fantastic line-up of authors, illustrators and creative workers for a three-day book festival for children of all ages. From creating bookmarks to acting out stories, the programme includes loads of activities to get kids excited about literature.
Peebles Library, 25 November
While writers are often instructed to ‘write what you know’, Karen Campbell’s latest novel tells the tale of Abdi, a Somali refugee trying to make a new home in Glasgow. Find out how she came to write a story so different from her own as she discusses the novel for Book Week Scotland.
Hawick Library, 27 November
Whether you’re new to the world of writing or have already penned several tomes, polish your skills and pick up some great tips at this free writing workshop. Award-winning writer Tom Murray will be leading the session, working on stories with the theme of ‘home’.
Artwork at Shetland Library
Lerwick, 28 November onwards
Shetland Library is one of five to have been selected to host new permanent artwork especially for Book Week Scotland 2014. The piece has been created by illustrator Rosemary Cunningham, known for her colourful Edinburgh and Glasgow Alphabets, and will be based on Dear Library by Scottish author and playwright Jackie Kay. See it from Friday 28 November onwards.
Shetland Museum Auditorium, Lerwick, 26 November
Let your little pirates be regaled with tales of storms, stowaways and swashbuckling adventures at a special Bookbug session in the Shetland Museum Auditorium, rather appropriately located by Hay’s Dock.
From Shetland to Wonderland
Shetland Library, Lerwick, 26 November
Discover upcoming writers at an open mic event hosted by author, poet and playwright Laureen Johnson. Laureen will read from Alice’s Adventirs in Wonderland, her translation of Lewis Carroll’s classic into the Shetland dialect, before welcoming talented locals to share the stage.
Most events are free and unticketed, though some may require booking and/or a small fee – please check the Book Week Scotland website for full details and information on how to book.
No matter where in the world you are, you can get involved with Book Week Scotland. Vote for your favourite character from Scottish fiction, make a reading pledge, or pick a title from one of the Scottish Book Trust’s book lists and get reading!
Visit our Literature section for more information on Scottish writers, literary attractions and itineraries that you can follow around Scotland, and let us know what you’ll be reading for Book Week Scotland in the comments section below.