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! Ian Wall takes us forward on 23rd December.
IAN WALL, Director of Scottish Review of Books Ltd and former Chair of the Board at the Scottish Poetry Library
One of the triumphs of last year’s Edinburgh Festival was Wind Resistance, written and performed by Karine Polwart, and that might have been that but this year has brought much more; the Lyceum ran it again, Hudson Records released a CD – A Pocket of Wind Resistance and Faber have published the script. The challenge of presenting, speech, song and vocal/sound/music accompaniment is met by having three interweaving columns of print using roman and italic. The script combines anecdotes, memories, jokes, personal and social history, nature and deep personal experience, each element interconnecting to become one of the most engaging and moving books of the year.
Botanical Art from India (RBGE) by Henry Noltie is the most recent of his books that rescues from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh’s library, beautiful illustrations prepared for Indian colonial medical officers. The book is large format, allowing the detail of the large full page illustrations to be enjoyed, but often, though scientific in purpose, the artist’s conception produces a work of art. It also rescues from anonymity some, though so far not all, of the Indian artists who were responsible for the art; working from their own professional traditions but to technical requirements of their Scottish masters they produced work that not only remains scientifically valuable but is wonderful art.