Non-fiction

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Amy Mason – The Other Ida

7 Nov 20144 stars

Her mother's funeral is the tipping point for Ida Irons. Fast approaching 30, reckless with alcohol and decisions, she has spent her life living in the shadow of her mother – the secretive writer Bridie Adair – and an infamous play which she was named…

Interview: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero of The Room

25 Feb 2014

The two filmmakers discuss their so-bad-it's-good movie and Sestero's book, The Disaster Artist

When I meet Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, I am woefully under-prepared. I’d come along to tonight’s screening of The Room – part of the Cameo Cinema’s centenary celebrations – as a paying punter, expecting to witness a bit of Tommy’s madness on-stage…

Iain Macwhirter – Disunited Kingdom

8 Dec 20144 stars

An authoritative and peerless sequel to Road to Referendum

While the space between deadlines for Iain Macwhirter finishing and publishing his post-indyref book was clearly a tight one, it still missed the event which perhaps encapsulated his central point most perfectly. With newspapers continuing to struggle…

Kevin Bridges – We Need to Talk About . . . Kevin Bridges

9 Oct 20143 stars

Autobiographical self-awareness and emotional honesty from Glaswegian stand-up

While it's virtually taken for granted that an arena comic will pen an autobiography sooner rather than later, Kevin Bridges appreciates that he's ridiculously young to be reminiscing about his life. Now 27, more than a third of this book passes with…

Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking

11 Nov 20144 stars

A brilliantly frank portrayal of the life and art of the self-proclaimed rockstar

There are many things that Amanda Palmer is not afraid to ask for. Wedding gowns, advice on angry red thigh spots and pianos are all just a tweet away for the self-identified rock star; but when she asked for money to help fund her new record, she…

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Interview: Alan Cumming discusses his new book Not My Father's Son

7 Nov 2014

'I think this is a certain example of truth being stranger than fiction'

‘I think it’s a sad, sad thing that we tend to remember bad things more clearly than we do good things. But actually that’s quite helpful in this case,’ laughs Alan Cumming. The actor and entertainer has just released his new book, Not My Father’s Son…

Top 5 new book releases this autumn

9 Oct 2014

Including David Nicholls, Ian McEwan, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Lena Dunham

David Nicholls – Us (Hodder & Stoughton) Flushed by the success of the intensely loveable *3One Day*2 and creditably not put off by the poorness of the film version which followed, David Nicholls here swaps youthful romance for lived-in, mature love…

David Stubbs - Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany

27 Aug 20144 stars

A thorough critical and cultural history of the genre of Kraftwerk, Can, Neu!, Faust and more

'The European canon is here' declared David Bowie on 1976's Station to Station, signalling his allegiance to the new German music, crassly but enduringly dubbed krautrock by the 1970s British music press. Four decades on, krautrock is enshrined in the…

Amy Pascale - Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe – A Biography

15 Jul 20144 stars

A refreshingly candid look at the man behind Buffy and Marvel's Avengers

With his genre-changing series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon shaped the face of television in the 1990s. Nearly 20 years on, having written and directed 2012’s The Avengers, which became the third highest grossing film worldwide, he now plays a…

The Moth: This is a True Story

15 Jul 20144 stars

Non-fiction short story collection featuring contributions from Malcolm Gladwell & Sebastian Junger

Although it freely describes itself as a ‘storytelling sensation’, it’s hard not to indulge New York literary event The Moth its powerful sense of self. Named in honour of the days when stories were for the porch as the sun went down, and not the…

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Barbara Ehrenreich - Living With A Wild God

16 May 20143 stars

A philisophical memoir by one of America's most socially engaged journalists

‘I will never write an autobiography,’ Barbara Ehrenreich claims, in the foreword to a book that comes closer to self-revelation than many more conventional memoirs. One of America's most socially engaged journalists, Ehrenreich's subject here is not so…

Stories of Home: Vic Galloway on Scotland and music

8 May 2014

The broadcaster on why music is his home, as part of Scottish Book Trust's Stories of Home project

In bricks and mortar, my home has always been Scotland; a country that continually manifests itself in different ways. It morphs and mutates, it shape-shifts and surprises. On one hand it’s my mother’s lentil soup and cosy, comfy living room; my…

John Burnside - I Put a Spell on You

22 Apr 20144 stars

The writer's latest is a semi-memoir that partially explores the theory behind the practice

Probably by commercial necessity John Burnside’s I Put a Spell on You is being promoted as a memoir, the missing link between his earlier volumes A Lie About My Father and Waking Up in Toytown, but it is a far stranger and more haunting book than those…

Leo Hollis - Cities Are Good For You

22 Apr 20143 stars

A heavyweight but accessible account of the evolution of the city

Over 150 cities come under the academic microscope of Leo Hollis in his heavyweight account of the evolution of the city. The 400-page work is largely accessible however thanks to Hollis inserting narrative drive to each of the sections, which serve as…

Teju Cole - Every Day is For the Thief

4 Apr 20144 stars

A powerful blend of fiction, memoir and travelogue set in modern Nigeria

Returning home for the first time in 15 years, the unnamed narrator of Teju Cole's novel Every Day is for the Thief plunges into the chaos and exhausting inefficiency of a Nigeria plagued by corruption. Bribes are disguised as tips while extortion and…

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Alasdair Gray - Of Me and Others

27 Mar 20144 stars

A clear, invigorating and fun collection of assorted non-fictional works spanning Gray's life

Rather than take the traditional anecdotal approach to autobiography, Glasgow’s favourite polymath has spent the last few years assembling this collection of assorted non-fictional works spanning his life as a writer. Arranged roughly chronologically…

Rebecca Mead - The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot

19 Mar 20144 stars

A passionate celebration of the art of reading

Interweaving in-depth readings of George Eliot's classic novel Middlemarch with an exploration into Eliot's life, as well as reflections on Mead's personal history, The Road to Middlemarch is no dry academic study, but a complex and sensitive work of…

Gary Shteyngart – Little Failure

3 Mar 20144 stars

A truthful and humourous memoir from the author of Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad’. Philip Larkin’s most famous opening line doesn’t appear as an epigram for Gary Shteyngart’s memoir, but it wouldn’t be out of place. The novelist’s life, from early childhood in Soviet Russia to panic…

Philip Roscoe - I Spend Therefore I Am: the True Cost of Economics

18 Feb 20143 stars

An easy to grasp analysis of how economics has infiltrated every aspect of modern living

A straightforward, easy to grasp analysis, Philip Roscoe's politically charged denunciation of economics' primacy in the modern world highlights the dire consequences of applying a market mentality to such areas as car safety, organ donorship…

Robert Crawford - Bannockburns

18 Feb 20144 stars

A successful (if partisan) attempt to put the Scottish independence debate in an historical context

Seven hundred years after Bannockburn, with Scotland's independence referendum fast approaching, Robert Crawford has in Bannockburns produced a comprehensive account of Scottish Independence from 1314 to the present day. He begins with an exploration of…

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David Belton - When the Hills Ask For Your Blood

5 Feb 20143 stars

A lyrical mix of fiction and non fiction regarding the Rwandan genocide, from BBC journalist Belton

A lyrical mix of fiction and non fiction that not only depicts the horrors of a recent history but delves into the very heart of human behaviour, When the Hills Ask for Your Blood is BBC journalist David Belton’s quest to expose and revisit the terror…

Eric Smith - The Geek's Guide to Dating

27 Nov 20134 stars

Smith's infectious enthusiasm and genuine geekiness make for charming and excellent advice

Whether scripting first date scenarios in the style of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel or picking through Viking action movie The 13th Warrior for lessons in developing social skills, The Geek's Guide to Dating is never less than inventive in its use…

Nina Stibbe - Love, Nina

22 Nov 20134 stars

A collection of warm, unaffected letters from the world of The London Review of Books in the 1980s

Love, Nina is a collection of letters written by North London nanny Nina Stibbe to her sister Victoria, detailing her life in the employment of The London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, in 1980s literary London. According to the author…

John Grindrod - Concretopia

18 Oct 20133 stars

An enthusiastic but not entirely convincing counter-argument to the popular Crap Towns books

The recently revived Crap Towns books sneer at ugly modern architecture, but John Grindrod comes not to bury the postwar rebuilding of Britain but to praise it. For while tower blocks, prefabs and new towns have been unpopular with many traditionalists…

Bradley L Garret - Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City

17 Oct 20134 stars

A heady, inspirational rush through the 'urban explorer' movement

The cover of Explore Everything depicts author Bradley Garrett as a hooded figure, stood atop the Forth Rail Bridge at night, silhouetted by glow of South Queensferry. The book is underpinned by a restless curiosity to find deeper ways to understand and…