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Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement, 24 November 2020

  24 Nov '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

There is light in this late-November darkness. Here’s a beautiful, short poem from the wizardrous Roseanne Watt, about light shows of human and cosmic creation. The eponymous ‘Mareel’ is Scotland’s most northerly cinema and arts centre on the waterfront in Lerwick.

Our sales rep Ann, who is regularly on the road making calls at bookshops from the Borders to Shetland, gives a tour of five new or recently relocated bookshops in Scotland’s small towns and villages. Birnam, Blairgowrie, and Kippen Station star in this glorious round-up of where you can get your books and often have your cake, too.

Also on Ann’s beat is the Scottish shore of the Solway, where author and Cumbria resident Ann Lingard is often to be found in her wellies investigating this fascinating firth ecosystem. In this special extract from The Fresh and the Salt, she shares the winter tales of hardy Solway-dwellers, from minuscule invertebrates to wind-farm workers.

Even (and especially) if you’re still locked down in England or in a Scottish Tier 4 area, fear not! Your local bookshop might be offering a different kind of service. They are not all completely shuttered, with many open for collection of phone or online orders. Your bookseller will appreciate a visit. See who’s doing what across the UK here.

If you’re pulling on your own wellies for a bracing day outside, or if you’re packing a lunch for a day’s work outside, Liz Ashworth’s recipe for salty butteries will stand you in good stead. They’re Elgin-style, not Aberdeen. It’s the small differences.

Honey, we shrunk the books! This year we have a number of small or shorter books for grown-ups from authors that pack a mighty punch, including Denzil Meyrick, Malachy Tallack, and Alexander McCall Smith. They are perfect for wavering attention spans. Christmas Eve is one month away; small books make excellent stocking-fillers. Explore the thrall of the small.

Finally, if you’re listening to
BBC Radio 4 this afternoon, you’ll catch Alexander McCall Smith on A Good Read at 4.30pm. He’ll be sharing and discussing Somerset Maugham, Alice in Wonderland and more with presenter Harriette Gilbert and Professor Lucie Green of The Sky at Night. Starry. Listen live, or listen again afterwards.

Be safe and keeping looking to the stars,
Team Birlinn

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