Top 10 books to accompany the Margins Book & Music Festival 2012

Missing Margins Book Festival?

Here’s A Top 10 of Books to go with Glasgow’s Indie Music scene selected by David Wilson
I love living in Glasgow and one of the really great things about being here at the moment is being amongst a community of incredibly talented creative people. It is fantastic to be able to go to see and hear bands like Sons and Daughters, the Twilight Sad, Sparrow and the Workshop, The Phantom Band and the Unwinding Hours. These bands are sound-tracking a wider creative scene which is thriving.

Margins Book & Music Festival takes place this weekend at the Arches in Glasgow. It is a literary Festival with indie music events on. The line up includes Roddy Woomble, Malcolm Middleton with Aiden Moffat and Bill Wells, Louise Welsh, Christopher Brookmyre, Helen Fitzgerald, Doug Johnstone and Rodge Glass ”“ amongst many other talented people.

If you can’t get to Glasgow this weekend, you might be able to spend some time in a quiet corner curled up with a good book and an MP3 player. Here is my top ten of books to compliment fantastic Glaswegian indie music:

1. The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh

Top 10 books to accompany the Margins Book & Music Festival 2012

This is a book that assaults you like a proverbial Glasgow kiss and forces you to take notice. It is dark, sexy, gripping and surprising. A warning though ”“ it may make other thrillers you normally read seem dull and formulaic by comparison. Adding some early Jesus and Mary Chain to your playlist before you get stuck in may augment your reading and reading and listening pleasure.

2. Ever Fallen In Love by Zoe Strachan

This is a sophisticated book about growing up, not by changing from being a child to being an adult, but by the main character accepting and understanding how he came to be damaged. It is complicated and beautiful. I’d recommend some Idlewild to go along with this. It is a beautiful and thought-provoking book.

3. Death of a Ladies Man by Alan Bissett

Dark and dangerous, this book keeps you on a tightrope balanced between sympathy and revulsion for the protagonist. It is funny, poignant, disturbing and erotic. Read it and judge for yourself. Alan Bissett rather helpfully suggests music to accompany the book referencing Sons and Daughters and Zoe Van Goey.

4. The Ossians by Doug Johnstone

Let Mr Johnstone take you on a tour of Scotland with the Ossians. From the outset, you know it’s not going to be straightforward and you’re right. All good fun though. Kind of like if Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones was in a Glaswegian indie band. The kind of book you’ll sit and keep reading while your family and friends scream at you to stop and pay attention to them.

Top 10 books to accompany the Margins Book & Music Festival 2012

5. Alasdair Gray A secretary’s Biography by Rodge Glass

Totally breaking the mould and all the rules for how secretaries are supposed to write biographies of eminent luminaries they have been privileged to work for, beware of reading this in a public place in case you find yourself rolling around on the floor laughing. You may find yourself taking this book to the pub, so that you can read some of the anecdotes out to your friends. Alasdair Gray painted the murals at Oran Mor while Rodge Glass was working on this, so my personal preference is to read it while listening to musicians I’ve seen play fantastic gigs there like Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame.

6. Dead Lovely by Helen Fitzgerald

In my opinion, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters by the Twilight Sad is the perfect music to listen to while immersing yourself in this story about ordinary suburban middle class women in Glasgow. A book to make you think that your neighbours might be a lot more interesting than they seem. Helen Fitzgerald’s the Donor is an original story inspired by real events and is one of the best books I read last year, but Dead Lovely really captures the schizophrenic side of Glasgow suburbia.

7. The Celestial Cafe by Stuart Murdoch

Great insight into what goes through Stuart Murdoch’s mind, what inspires him and how he spends his time.

8. Apollo Memories: The Venue; The Legend; The Stories by Martin Lielty

Great stories. Good to know about the music that spawned Postcard Records, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream. Fill your boots and your playlist with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash and Mott the Hoople and just indulge yourself for a few hours.

Top 10 books to accompany the Margins Book & Music Festival 2012

9. Gutter Mag

This is how Glaswegian scenesters find out what will be the next big literary thing in their world. Stunningly good stories in every issue. Forget £1,000 hand bags, this is the ultimate fashion accessory to compliment any hipster’s outfit. It is also relished by reclusive bookworms in the comfort of their own homes.

10. All the Places I’ve Ever Been by Colette Coen

Starts in the Glasgow Apollo in 1985 and takes you on a wild and wonderful journey. Colette Coen is doing a reading at Aye Write. Go along and shamelessly beg her to let you read the whole book.

Readers, please feel free to point out all the fantastic and amazing books I have left off the list.

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  1. Placing The Cutting Room at the top suggests you’re no’ daft. Must check out some of these.

    For an understanding of Glasgow (and nearby) people would definitely recommend Brookmyre’s “One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night.”

    Ideal if you prefer his “Early, funny*” books.

    i.e. good.


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