‘Look Outwards, Not Inwards’ – Finally, a Womens’ Magazine For the Real World

Reading, eating, sleeping: are these not the very foundations of wellbeing? Most else, I could take or leave (exercising is only for emergencies; handsome lovers and disco dancing and holidays in sunny places are the extras we get if we’re lucky and/or persistent). As a kid I avidly read cereal boxes at the breakfast table… Continue reading ‘Look Outwards, Not Inwards’ – Finally, a Womens’ Magazine For the Real World

‘Hardly a Season for Daylight’ – Why I Love Lanark by Alasdair Gray

I hated Glasgow for the first four years that I lived here. Before I moved, I’d been warned that it would rain interminably, but ‘the humour’ would make up for it. The city seemed to me (eighteen years old and fresh from the Highlands, as green as you get) just a big brawling mass without… Continue reading ‘Hardly a Season for Daylight’ – Why I Love Lanark by Alasdair Gray

Banned Books, Pseudonyms and a Secret Magazine

“Secrets, silent, stony, sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.” James Joyce, Ulysses Maybe it's  a symptom of living in almost certain safety, to find the idea of banned books romantic. Imagine: the soft crackling of a paper bag containing a hard-back first… Continue reading Banned Books, Pseudonyms and a Secret Magazine

The Introvert’s Guide to Disappearing

Important Daily Activities: An Incomplete List Make coffee. Dress. Neglect to check mirror for errors made while dressing. Check Facebook, Instagram, What’s App, news websites and Twitter. Stare out of window at high rises. Wonder if anyone is looking at me. Conclude: no. Feel tired. Download a Taylor Swift song. Feel guilty but invigorated. Arrive… Continue reading The Introvert’s Guide to Disappearing

The Friday Happy List: 30th January 2015

If ever a Friday needed a Happy List, it's Friday the 30th of January. One day I plan to gather all my mutinous feelings about this time of the year (acht, cursed, wretched January) into the introduction to the astonishingly brilliant, grammatically experimental, culturally significant and ludicrously handsome book that I will write. This will not… Continue reading The Friday Happy List: 30th January 2015

Islands and Books and Winter

In the winter of 2009, I spent four days in the dark windswept wilds of Shetland. Without any phone signal or internet, I was reduced to digging my book out of my bag.  Luckily, that book was Lanark by Alistair Gray. It was just what was needed. It reminded me of the days when I… Continue reading Islands and Books and Winter

Lolita, Madame Bovary, Roxana: Life Lessons from Beloved Books

This is mostly about Lolita, because it is my favourite novel. If you don't want to encounter spoilers or opinionated ramblings, I'd advise clicking away. (That can apply to any post you see here.) Novels are foxy and full of tricks: they wear guises, they steal tales and retell them, and they shape-shift shamelessly. You can… Continue reading Lolita, Madame Bovary, Roxana: Life Lessons from Beloved Books

The Ernest Hemingway Institute of Manliness

I poured the water glass a third full of cognac and drank it off. ‘That was very big,’ she said. ‘I know brandy is for heroes. But you shouldn’t exaggerate.’ - From A Farewell to Arms Was there ever a man as manly as Ernest Hemingway? When I’m feeling a little melancholy and addled, I… Continue reading The Ernest Hemingway Institute of Manliness

Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I picked this book up from the library because the title was irresistible, started reading it on the train home, and was smitten, immediately. Often books arrive just when you need them the most, and this one arrived, volatile and funny, full of dark wit and poetry and joyful hope, on a grey Sunday in January. It was meant… Continue reading Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Heavenly Places

Life is pretty short on miracles. I know this because I have made that shift, as pretty much everyone has, from my childhood state of believing pretty much ANYTHING, to the slightly flattening realisation that unexpectedly wonderful things are few and far between. Which is fair enough, because life is unmiraculous, and I'd be hell… Continue reading Heavenly Places