GLASGOW writers worked their socks off to produce an array of moving, hard-hitting, hilarious books in 2020.
Here is our round-up top 10 of the quirkiest, daftest and best for children, teens and adults.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
It’s the book EVERYONE has been talking about in 2020, and it’s a powerful story of poverty, addiction and love in 1980s Glasgow. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador) won the Booker Prize for its depiction of a young boy’s life and relationship with his damaged mother. Stuart grew up in Sighthill and Pollok, and much of his experience has made it into the novel.
Lockdown by Peter May
Glasgow-born Peter May’s latest thriller, Lockdown (Riverrun), could easily have been inspired by the events of 2020 but in fact, this tale of a deadly influenza pandemic and a world in quarantine was written in 2005 and rejected by publishers. This year, it was finally published and May decided to donate the money from the advance to various charitable organisations involved with supporting health workers, victims and others suffering as a result of Covid-19.
Counting Creatures by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King Chai
Something much lighter, and for much younger readers, comes from the pen of Glasgow-born Julia Donaldson, pictured, and Sharon King Chai (from Australia) , who came up with Counting Creatures (Two Hoots) a stunning counting book full of gorgeous baby animals, with fold-outs and shaped pages aplenty. It’s a very different kind of picture book, and thoroughly satisfying.
Olive, Mabel and Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs by Andrew Cotter
Glasgow University graduate and sports presenter Andrew Cotter entertained the nation during lockdown by applying his commentary skills to videos of his dogs, Olive and Mabel. They were such a hit, he has written a book about it and Olive, Mabel and Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs (Black and White Publishing), is an honest, funny and entertaining look back at a year like no other.
The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest
Never judge a book by its cover, but what a cover this is and you cannot help but be drawn to it. Glasgow author Juliette Forrest’s The True Colours of Coral Glen (Scholastic) is an inventive, spooky and heartfelt story. If the young person in your life enjoys the books of Neil Gaiman, for example, he or she will love this story of a girl who sees the world around her through a rainbow of colours not visible to others. When her beloved grandma dies, Coral can’t find the colour to match how heartbroken she is. She makes a bargain with a ghostly boy – she’ll stop an evil spirit from breaking the spell imprisoning him in a graveyard and he’ll find a way for her to say goodbye properly to Grandma.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in Scots
Another city-based writer, James Robert, co-edited a fantastic collection called Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in Scots (Black and White Publishing), which won the Bairns’ Book o’ the Year Award for 2020. Nine of the famous storyteller’s best-loved tales are featured in the book, translated by a host of well-known Scottish writers such as Val McDermid and Elaine C. Smith. Favourites featured include classics like the Princess and the Pea, the Ugly Duckling, the Emperor’s New Clothes, the Little Mermaid and the Nightingale.
The Nicht Afore Christmas by Irene McFarlane
Talking of Scots, a famous Glasgow attraction, the Tenement House, is the backdrop for a wonderfully-illustrated picture book translating the well-kent nineteenth-century poem, ‘The Night Before Christmas’ into Scots. Set against the backdrop of the National Trust for Scotland property in Glasgow, The Nicht Afore Christmas (Tippermuir Books) is a festive treat, imaginatively translated into Scots by Irene McFarlane, and beautifully illustrated by Rosemary Cunningham.
Lockdown Laughs by Greda Gordon
Carmunnock author Gerda Gordon came up with the idea for Lockdown Laughs (Ringwood Publishing) during the summer, and it’s a funny collection of daft observations from the perspective of a woman on the edge. Not intended to minimise the seriousness of Covid-19, instead it aims to highlight that even in the darkest moments, there will always be reasons to laugh. All profits are going to four charities – Alzheimer’s Scotland, Cancer Research, Children in Need and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
The Less Dead by Denise Mina
Glasgow’s queen of crime fiction Denise Mina was back in action in 2020, excellent news for fans. She published The Less Dead, (Harvill Secker) a gripping tale of a woman in search of her birth mother, who discovers she was murdered and the killer has never been caught.
Red, Red Snow by Caro Ramsay
And if crime is your thing, check out Caro Ramsay’s latest Anderson and Costello thriller, Red, Red Snow (Canongate), longlisted for The McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2020. Called to investigate the bloodstained aftermath of an eventful festive party, the detectives are having a decidedly un-merry Christmas…