Last week was Book Week Scotland – something I’ve only been vaguely aware of before, but this year I became involved slightly by accident.
What, exactly, IS Book Week Scotland?
Here is what the website says:
“Book Week Scotland – now in its eleventh year – is an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place across the country in November. During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life come together to share the joy of reading. Together with Scottish Book Trust’s curated programme, our partners deliver hundreds of unique, exciting events and activities that celebrate the transformative power of reading.”
Even before moving permanently to Scotland, I have been keeping an eye on the local literary society, Highland Lit, and have attended a couple of meetings. Their regular fare is talks and workshops by authors, and open mic events where you can book a slot to read from your own work.
So far, I’ve not become very involved because they don’t seem particularly interested in genre writers – it’s mostly mainstream fiction, poetry, with a little crime fiction on the side.
They did, however, recently ask for readers (members or not) to nominate a book that transformed their lives in some way, and to contribute a short piece (200 words) explaining why.
Here is what I put in:
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin.
This book came into my 12-year-old life in an English class, and simply enthralled me. A story about a boy learning to be a wizard was original (at the time!), featuring a prickly main character, Ged, who was also dark skinned – all uncommon in books back in the 70’s.
In a fight with another student, Ged releases a dark, evil being that he spends the rest of the book trying to hide from, and discover how to destroy, as it wants to kill him. There are themes of coming-of-age, and death, Taoist concepts of balance in the world, alongside the notion that true names have real power, as believed in many cultures, but a revolutionary idea to me at the time.
This book introduced me to the fantasy genre, in which I am happily now an author of several books – it definitely changed my life!
Book Week Scotland meeting
As I said in my intro, I didn’t realise this was anything to do with Book Week Scotland. But turns out it was – and Highland Lit held a meeting which included a giveaway of all the nominated books, courtesy of the Book Week Scotland Fund. Everyone who contributed a piece was able to choose their book, and then the rest were up for grabs.
I chose ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson – a fascinating book about animal behaviour.
Each book was presented with a postcard, printed with the nominator’s explanation about why the book had changed their life.
Then I picked up a couple of classics that I am ashamed to say, I have never read: NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell, and COLD COMFORT FARM, by Stella Gibbons.
And so to my final point of the day: have you noticed the size of type in some books these days?
Publishers save money by reducing size of books?
I can only assume this is a money-saving exercise, because why else would you make the type so small that, as one lady at the meeting said, “I won’t take a book home – even with my glasses on I wouldn’t be able to read it!”
Perhaps it’s just the classics, as they reckon it’ll be younger people picking them up??
I know I’m going to struggle to read those two classics I took home with me.
To be fair, they did ask that everyone gave away one of the books they took, but I don’t see a problem with reading it first – if I can!
I know I carefully consider the type size of my own paperbacks when I’m formatting them. In my experience there’s nothing more discouraging than being faced with a solid block of tiny type.
And that’s another reason I love my Kindle. The ability to change font size has revolutionized my late-night reading habits!!!
How about you? Have you noticed this trad pub trend? Or do you read exclusively on an eReader?