We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2017. There will be new selections every day until 21 December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Alan Riach takes us forward on 16th December.
ALAN RIACH, poet and academic
Two of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in ages were highlights of 2017. First is Peter McCarey’s Petrushka: Proceedings of a Conference on Severe Epidemic Phynotic Syndrome (SEPS) (Molecular Press, £12.95). A collection of specialist conference papers (by international experts on health, languages, philosophy, history) address a rising global disease: people are turning into plants: what can be done by the world’s governments? The conference happened, the epidemic didn’t. It’s weird: horribly chilling, very funny and unlike anything else. Next: Carl MacDougall’s stories, Someone Always Robs the Poor (Freight, £9.99), where style is the key. The words do the work quietly, because the drama and tension (and there’s plenty) come from what’s being written about. Things are beyond the power of adequate exclamation. “Is this the place you now call home?” twists, turns, develops, takes you not where you thought you were going, yet delivers the perfect conclusion.