THIS TIME: (7th) - The writer Alan Gillespie
NEXT TIME: (14th) - Writer & editor Nicholas Royle

The writer
Alan Gillespie

AG: Having said that, I’ve often taught Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber and her attention to sentence construction is dazzling. Her writing is otherworldly and ethereal in a way I could never manage ... click here to read more

The writer
Heather Parry

HP: She is a writer completely unafraid to push the accepted level of what a reader can supposedly take, in both beauty and horror, and I respect that hugely ... click here to read more

Author & editor
Gabriella Bennett

GB: But when he writes about art or the establishment he’s full of rage. For the tabloids, too, because of their treatment of the gay community in the 1980s and beyond ... click here to read more

Ruth Boyle
of the Cynic

RB: I felt personally invested in her journey and her bravery, and couldn’t put the book down because I needed to know whether she found what she was looking for ... click here to read more

The writer
Martin Geraghty

MG: Like the other two, I can open the book at any page, and I’ll find wisdom or humour, something that’ll make me think or find a wee bit of solace ... click here to read more

Tommy McCormick
of Trasho Biblio

TM: They always managed to find the gems of both local and forgotten modern classics and I made a point of working my way through all 52 releases. I regard this experience as life changing ... click here to read more

Freelance writer & media officer
Claire Thomson

CT: I thought it was a flawed, but hugely impressive, look at New York City in the 1980s and the greed, excess, poverty and inequalities of the era. It really is an exceptional tale ... click here to read more

Clare Bogen
of Fitzcarraldo Editions

CB: Like her, I changed my degree plans because of a love of Russian literature ... click here to read more

Researcher & editor
Grace Borland Sinclair

GBS: The poem subverts all notion of borders, temporal, national, and literary. Is this the future of a Scotland yet to come, a Scotland far in the past, or the Scotland of an alternate world? ... click here to read more

The Common Breath
editor Brian Hamill

BH: I keep all of these books on a separate shelf and revisit them all constantly – forever trying vainly to work out how their magic has been conjured onto the page ... click here to read more

Writer & academic
Jonathan Gibbs

JG: They read like a message in a bottle thrown in despair into the ocean, or like something you’d send out into interstellar space attached to a probe, to give proof of civilisation, or a part of it ... click here to read more

Writer & reviewer
Sarah Faichney

SF: That completely took my breath away and I had to sit with it for a wee minute. So evocative and such a heartbreakingly beautiful way to describe something so fundamentally ugly ... click here to read more

TCB subeditor
Hannah Scott

HS: It was a massive influence on what I still love to read today, modern feminist, folk and gothic writing, and continues to inspire a lot of my own creative and academic ideas ... click here to read more

The writer
Annie Q. Syed

AS: A reader is invited to ask what it means to be a person, which is as much a spiritual question as it is a question for any genre or analytical framework ... click here to read more

Music writer
Marianne Gallagher

MG: She endured a life of almost unimaginable tragedy and suffering, blotted out by her love of booze and a younger man. This book was written by her sister. God, what a story ... click here to read more

The novelist
Alice Jolly

AJ: One thing I particularly admire is when a writer appears to be writing a small and light little book – and then you find out that there is something much bigger and darker lying beneath the surface ... click here to read more

The writer
Frankie Gault

FG: Jeezo what a shock. Every second word seemed to be absurd, in all it’s forms, absurd, absurdness, absurdity absurd absurd absurd ABFUCKINSURD. It genuinely gave me a sore head ... click here to read more

Miles Collins
of retroculturati.com

MC: This book is a reminder of society’s insistence on partisan reaction without ever stopping to consider humanity and nature ... click here to read more

The poet
Martin Breul

MB: Lotte’s poetry is very musical, and I can hear the melody of the words in my head when I read her lines. I love how many of her poems shamelessly dive into bodily experiences ... click here to read more

Himadri Chatterjee

HC: When I find myself disliking a book that is widely admired by those whose discernment I respect, I usually put it down to limitations in my own perspective ... click here to read more

Adam Moody
of Chronicle Books

AM: ... writers who refused to try, writers who just kept having their ideas written by other people before them, writers consumed by impossible projects ... click here to read more

The writer
Jerry Simcock

JS: I was pulled in by it’s magic, the poetic vibrancy of it and its rule breaking wonderful language - it is outstanding, of course. I understood little of it then, more now ... click here to read more

The writer
Joe England

JE: Absolutely awesome novel. If Jaws made you think twice about going back into the water, this book might put you off cycling ... click here to read more

The writer
Keir Hind

KH: As someone who has worked in many a library, I could never despise a book ... click here to read more

The writer
Wayne Connolly

WC: I couldn’t finish the book. I didn’t want to. I felt soiled and used ... click here to read more

The writer
Caroline Collett

CC: I was only a few pages into the first book when I decided it was cod mystical bollocks, but I couldn’t stop because I’d chosen him, so I had to wade through about six more of his awful books ... click here to read more

The novelist
Lesley McDowell

LMcD: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I have a feeling I’m too late to it now, in the way that you have to read a book at a certain point in your life. ... click here to read more

The Common Breath's
Kirsten Anderson

KA: This novel will hook you in from the very first line. However individual lines could exist as poetry, as could chunks of each page. I found it hypnotic at times ... click here to read more

The writer
Andrew Leach

AL: A book to make you cry, to marvel, to know the characters as if they're sitting beside you, to learn an alien landscape as if it's your backyard ... click here to read more

Writer & musician
Clare Archibald

CA: It was the first book I’d read that was both Scottish but formally different in a dryly funny and dark off kilter way that felt true and interesting to me ... click here to read more

The writer
Drew Gummerson

DG: The novel is narrated by a working class Japanese woman living in Tokyo whose sister, an aging hostess, comes to visit. The sister is obsessed with the idea that boob augmentation will change her life. I’m expecting that it won’t ... click here to read more

The writer
Martin Geraghty

MG: The book hasn’t left my bedside table since I bought it. It’s the perfect book for dipping in and out of. He’s a genius, a Rock n Roll writer who writes like he’s in the Bardo state ... click here to read more

The writer
Sarah Smith

SS: His popular image makes it easy to dismiss him as a Victorian sentimentalist, but I love his social satire and characterisation. His psychological portraits are ahead of their time ... click here to read more

The writer
Donna McLean

DMcL: I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much or became so immersed in memories! I had the urge to phone all my old pals from Ayrshire after reading it ... click here to read more

Writer & academic
Craig Lamont

CL: There was just enough light to see the pages, and this made it all the more special. I leaned in when I read this part, certain that something magic was about to happen ... click here to read more

The writer
Ruskin Smith

RS: If I’m having a particularly hard time it’s impossible to read. I just can’t absorb what’s on the page, or concentrate. What helps me then is moving and singing along to music ... click here to read more

Writer & musician
Stu Hennigan

SH: He has such a great voice – I love the sparsity of the prose and the dead-eyed nihilism of it all. As I’ve got older I’ve come to like that style more and more – I’m not a fan of purple prose ... click here to read more

Writer & researcher
Chiara Bullen

CB: The narrative is wonderfully chaotic and I love that – this book is also one that made me realise you’re never too old to pursue something new ... click here to read more

Reader & blogger
Grant Rintoul

GR: Disappointment comes in two main forms for me. Firstly, there are those books which are greeted with critical acclaim which, when you read them, leave you rather puzzled at the praise they have received ... click here to read more

Hai Di Nguyen

HDN: One may struggle with some of his ideas, but there is no doubt that he is among the greatest novelists of all time because of the scope and depth of his works, because of his psychological insights ... click here to read more

The novelist
Ever Dundas

ED: I usually struggle to get through winter (the constant darkness gets to me – I love the long days of a Scottish summer) and I always reach to comics for comfort (though, I love horror, so they’re probably not other people’s idea of comfort) ... click here to read more

Millie McCosh

MM: I don’t re-read books. There are so many to discover, always a huge TBR pile and not enough time in life set aside for reading. Being a bookseller massively indulges this habit and I move on very quickly ... click here to read more

Matt from
Working-Class Literature

M: In his biography of Johnson, Jonathan Coe talks about how Johnson saw the “general shittiness of the world” as just one more burdensome problem he had to cope with and if that’s not relatable content for hard times I don’t know what is ... click here to read more

Short-story writer
Mike Fox

MF: It’s a book that only a poet could write, but also one that could only be written by a great relisher of life and of humanity, with all its contradictions and foibles ... click here to read more

'Young Team' writer
Graeme Armstrong!

GA: There’s definitely some funny lines (‘All morons hate it when you call them a moron’ - rings true) but on the whole Holden doesn’t really resonate. His often glib commentary reminds me of a modern cynical counter-ideology that exists mostly in the millennial meme-world ... click here to read more

Kenny Pieper

KP: When I first read the books, in my early twenties , I realise now that I foolishly, pretentiously and wholly incorrectly felt that the world had dealt me a dodgy hand, fought against my injustice and saw a kindred spirit ... click here to read more

Caitrin Armstrong
of the S.B.T.

CA: Anyone who thinks that writing picture books is somehow easier than writing for adults should be made to read a terrible picture book over and over again. A bad picture book is a special kind of hell ... click here to read more

Memorial Device

MD: A book we read and re-read. And it just keeps on giving. Its meaning and resonance change as we do. The more we experience and understand, the more we appreciate it ... click here to read more

The actor
Tam Dean Burn

TDB: The world that Irvine has created, based above all in our shared birthplace of Leith and teeming with fantastic characters that he's returned to again and again is right up there with Dickens or whoever ... click here to read more

Writer & editor
Joseph Ridgwell

JR: The bit where he gets lost in the woods of Utah is classic. It’s very honest writing, which we don’t see too much of these days. Most writers today write badly written fairy tales that are meaningless ... click here to read more

The writer Neil Campbell

NC: Sometimes with the old guys you have to forget all the bullshit that surrounds them and actually read their writing. A great book like that is an act of fucking heroism ... click here to read more

Short-story writer
Ian Farnes

IF: Often it’s the choice of music we fall in love with that bridges the gap between being a child and being an adult and it can shape the way we interact with the world for the rest of our lives ... click here to read more

The artist Stuart Murray

SM: His work was a real shaft of light. Realising that a short story can be five pages of nothing happening, but everything happens. A couple of sentences on their own can constitute a short story, a piece of art ... click here to read more

Artist & designer
Mark Mechan

MM: I know it's a popular choice amongst Scots but with good reason. Its full of beautiful agony. Its tines are so well embedded in the soil that it connected with me in a way that no other book has ... click here to read more

Musician & writer
Kris O'Rourke

KO: Surely the greatest living American author. She does not let a page go by without crafting language that leaves you breathless, or mining a nugget of devastating insight ... click here to read more

The writer James Connarty

JC: I tend to pick it up if I’m in bed with the cold or battling a bout of insomnia. I have a really old battered copy from the 70s that my uncle gave me once when I was visiting him on a family holiday and had exhausted the reading material I’d brought with me ... click here to read more

The writer Ely Percy

EP: Despite having previously enjoyed the Edinburgh vernacular in Irvine Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’, it was not until I read ‘How Late’ that it dawned on me that I was also allowed to have a go at writing in Scots. That’s when I discovered I had a good ear for dialogue ... click here to read more

Michael Curran
of Tangerine Press

MC: There are of course many books that people tell me I ‘should’ read. When I shake my head, they look horrified ... click here to read more

The artist Lucy Sweet

LS: To The Lighthouse - if you're looking for a beautifully judged description of a coastal path, an overgrown garden or the inner life of a woman, Virginia Woolf is your gal ... click here to read more

The illustrator
Steven Learmonth

SL: The main theme of the novel is the difficulty of fitting into regular society, how some people long for that kind of acceptance and conformity, and how others may never achieve it ... click here to read more

The writer Lynsey May

LM: I have never hated anything so much. I hate-read it to the end. I was more persistent then. ... click here to read more

Professor Gerard Carruthers

GC: The seemingly apocryphal story, although I’ve been told not, is that when the Luftwaffe bombed my hometown of Clydebank during the Blitz this was the only book damaged in the town’s central library (I want to believe) ... click here to read more

The writer & NWS editor
Rachelle Atalla

RA: I expected to love it with its Kafkaesque elements but the protagonist is so jaded it reads to me like the thin mask of Coetzee in essay form ... click here to read more

Rachael Fulton of Netflix

RF: Like most little-girl bookworms, I felt an affinity with Matilda, (though I lacked her skills in maths and telekinesis) but my favourite was probably Danny The Champion of The World. The gypsy caravan and paraffin lamps are vividly imprinted in my mind’s eye, more like a memory than something from my imagination ... click here to read more

The poet Ciara MacLaverty

CM: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte left a big impression on me as a teenager. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is haunting and spellbinding, as beautiful as it is scary. It's the novel of our Climate Emergency times ... click here to read more

Publishing Scotland's
Vikki Reilly

VR: ...Heller knows exactly what he’s doing in representing the random, chaotic, ugly, illogical world his characters find themselves in. I love its structure, the call backs, its anger, its moments of victory, every single one of the characters – even when they’re being utter arseholes. Oh, I’m due a re-read! ... click here to read more

Scots Whay Hae's
Alistair Braidwood

AB: I read it in one sitting on a flight to Australia in the late ‘90s and the sights, sounds, textures and flavours were almost overwhelming. I think the woman sitting beside me worried for my health as I was moved to tears on many occasions. They do say you feel more keenly at altitude so there may have been a bit of that ... click here to read more

Journalist & editor
Catherine Taylor

CT: It's a work of metafiction, and a story within a story, a form of the pseudonymous autobiography at which Nabokov excels, as well as being a novel of exile, a meditation on the loss of parents, and wild with literary ambition and hope. It's stuffed with beauty and poetry and wit, and the rather liberating idea that we are all just moveable characters on the stage of life ... click here to read more

The writer Lynnda Wardle

LW: Books about finding long-lost family on a leper colony in Crete, designer baby hospitals for rich women on fancy ocean liners with a searingly handsome gynaecologists, Books with pastel covers, aggressive marketed as 'women's fiction' or the 'Holiday Read'. You get the picture ... click here to read more

Allan Cameron
of Vagabond Voices

AC: She is part of an unusual story of an unjust world, which doesn't work out well. Sought-after marriages are unhappy, and perhaps the unhappiness teaches the victims something ... click here to read more

Samina Chaudhry
(of Ten Writers Telling Lies)

SC: This style comes from a certain segment of Nigerian society linked to the socio-economic and educational background of the speakers. Heartfelt and timeless, the destruction of war is reflected poignantly ... click here to read more

Pat Byrne
(of Ten Writers Telling Lies)

PB: I love everything about this story. The vivid imagery, fantastic dialogue and the richness of the emo-tions felt by the characters. The revelation of a disturbing memory ... click here to read more

Litstack's Lauren Alwan

LA: I was angered and disappointed by Terrorist by John Updike, a book the author confessed having researched by reading 'Islam for Dummies', which tells you all you need to know. The novel employs some of the worst and most ignorant stereotypes imaginable ... click here to read more

The novelist Dr Rodge Glass

RG: It’s about the power of language and corruption of language. There are two poets, ripped from their families as children, imprisoned by a regime that tasks them with waiting a lifetime to write a single poem ... click here to read more

Professor Simon Kövesi

SK: .. What a bag of self-inflationary hot air that book is. Like walking into a gentleman’s club in the 1910s and being shouted at for being in the wrong building. Just odious ... click here to read more

The novelist David Keenan

TCB: The book that most disappointed you?
DK: I Fought The Law: The Life And Strange Death of Bobby Fuller by Miriam Linna and Randell Fuller ... click here to read more

The Common Breath editor
Brian Hamill

BH: The beginning strikes me as much more significant. Everything rides on whether you’re going to engage with this writer’s world, or not. I suppose an answer for this depends on what you think of when you think of a brilliant opening to a novel – first line? First paragraph? Page? Chapter? ... click here to read more