Thursday, 22 December 2011

A little goose this Christmas?

Is there a foodie in your life? Perhaps a bon viveur in general? Forget the predictable TV chef cookbook and whisk them off to sunny Botswana with Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook: Nourishment for the Traditionally Built. NB, also a pretty good bet if your loved-one is a fan of Alexander McCall Smith!

Or perhaps their taste buds cry out for something a little closer to home? The Stornoway Black Pudding Bible takes the humble but hearty black pudding into a whole new realm with great recipes from Seumas MacInnes of Glasgow’s legendary CafĂ© Gandolfi.

And to wash it all down? How about Ciderland, or Charles MacLean’s Whiskypedia? Bottoms up!

And don't forget, there's a feast of good books for all tastes over at

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Santa, baby ...

We don't want no '54 convertible nor a platinum mine, we just want fabulous books. And they don't come much more fabulous that Roger Hutchinson's The Silent Weaver: The Extraordinary Life and Work of Angus MacPhee

Like his bestseller Calum's Road, The Silent Weaver is an amazing story about a truly remarkable man. Angus MacPhee returned from the Second World War bearing, as many young men did, invisible scars. At the age of twenty-four he was referred to Craig Dunain Hospital in Inverness where he would spend the next fifty years of his life. Retreating into his own silent world he created wonderful works of art using organic matter – grass, wool, leaves – which he would allow to decay or even destroy himself. It was only when an art therapist discovered him and his creations did some of them begin to be preserved and for Angus to begin to talk again.

Anna - ahoy matey! - chose The Silent Weaver for her Christmas recommendation:

"This beautiful little book not only tells the intriguing story of Angus MacPhee and his haunting artworks made of grass and leaves but also gives fascinating and unexpected insight into schizophrenia and attitudes to mental health following WWII. It's another gem from Roger Hutchinson and has one of my favourite book covers of all time."

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas? You’re having a laugh!?

If you’re on the lookout for something to tickle their funny bone, look no further.

They’ll never be lost for a one-liner with Chic Murray's Funnyosities, or find out more about the man himself in Just Daft: The Chick Murray Story. And for when you just can’t take another rerun of The Sound of Music, sit back and enjoy his offbeat humour with a DVD of his comedy classics.

If you have email, then you have spam. Not sure what we mean? Have you been offered a Rolex, love, money, ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ recently which seemed too good to be true? That’s spam. It’s pretty annoying but one man has adopted it as his raison d’ĂȘtre. Bob Servant, the comedy creation of Neil Forsyth, takes spammers on and strings them along. It’s hilarious. His first volume of online adventures, Delete This at Your Peril, has been joined by Why Me?: The Very Important Emails of Bob Servant. Now something of a celebrity in his native Broughty Ferry, Bob even has his own biography, Bob Servant: Hero of Dundee. (Work of fiction or fantasy might be a better description! – Ed)

Another funny man, Stanley Baxter, is the perfect guide to learning to Parliamo Glasgow (now also on CD), or gie your greetin’ faced friend a treat with the charmingly titled, Awa' An' Bile Yer Heid! And in these troubled times you too can do your bit for international relations with Auld Enemies: The Scots and the English.

So come on down and laugh it up at

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Balls III: There's Only One Dixie Deans!

It’s another case of balls today in our staff recommendations. Pete – multitalented and multi-job titled – goes for a football book, which is quite surprising seeing as he’s all about the rugby. Ah well, does a man good to cut loose now and again and if there’s one man who can tell you all about that it's the one, the only Dixie Deans.

At this time of year it’s hard to swing a practice ball without hitting some footballer or other using fairground attractions as similes for life in the beautiful game. Rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds are favourites, but you’d need the Pepsi Ride at Blackpool without breaks and some jetpacks attached to get close to the highs and lows experienced by Dixie Deans at Celtic.

Here's Pete to sings his praises: "There's Only One Dixie Deans: The Autobiography lifts the lid on the life of a true Celtic great, part of the legendary team that swept to nine consecutive league titles and dominated a golden era in the Scottish game. A fascinating story – in turns uplifting, heartrending, inspiring and haunting."

And don't forget, it's always a sporting life over at

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Christmas Story

A novel is an excellent idea for a Christmas present, quite apart from being easy to wrap! Polygon has a pleasing plethora of novels for your delectation, but we've chosen two particular favourites for you today.

Vikki – Sales & Marketing Liaison, a song for every occasion – is especially keen on The Book of Crows by Sam Meekings:

“Sam Meekings’ The Book of Crows is a bit of an epic. It’s the story of five different people, in five different time periods, all linked by their encounters with a mysterious Book of Crows which contains the entire history of the world and everyone in it past, present and future. As Sam is also a very fine poet, it’s no surprise to find he writes beautifully. That he also writes a book so pacy—with many a twist in the tale—and jam-packed with memorable characters, makes it’s an obvious choice for book of the year!”

You heard the lady! The Book of Crows is also available as an eBook.

Laura – Sales Director de Luxe – went for The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons:
"I thought I knew a lot about WW2, but I had never heard of the Kindertransport, and what a few brave people managed to achieve despite the worst that humanity could throw at them. Meticulously researched, powerfully written, emotionally compelling – Jake Wallis Simons is a real talent to watch."

Also available as an eBook. And for many, many more suggestions head over to

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cue the Ball Jokes: II

We were terrible remiss the other day and forgot to expand upon our Christmas pick by Kenny. So, with apologies here are some thoughts for presents for the sports fan this year.

There’s Only One Dixie Deans, a Celtic legend par excellence and a must for all fans of the hoops. Or, if you’re buying for a ‘Ger you might consider Barcelona and Beyond: The Men Who Made Rangers Champions of Europe. If their balls are odd-shaped, we have some of the best rugby books around - Southern Comfort: The Story of Borders Rugby (as recommended by Kenny), or how about Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland. And for the serious rugby aficionado, there’s The Accies: The Cradle of Scottish Rugby, available in hardback or as a signed limited edition.

And if balls aren’t their thing at all – double entendre central here, so it is – there’s the dashing Dario Speedwagon, Scotland’s legendary cricket champions (Dad’s Army) and Graeme Obree, The Flying Scotsman to keep them amused. And there's loads more over at

Line up, line out, kick-off and start your engines for some stupendous sports books from Birlinn!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hit the Right Note With Your Christmas Presents

It’s not just carols at Christmas, nor blaring muzak in shops, neither. For the discerning music fan in your life we have some suggestions for pitch-perfect presents this year.

Fond of flares? If 1970s music is their thing, man, it’s going to be a tough choice between Some People are Crazy: The John Martyn Story or The Sensational Alex Harvey, both by John Neil Munro. John Martyn was the last of the music mavericks, loved and loathed in equal measure but hugely talented as a singer-songwriter. And what can you say about Alex Harvey? Somewhere between naughty boy and wild man, he was one of the most exciting and diverse (everything from Jacques Brel to rock) of the 1970s. Truly sensational!

If they still hanker after shoulder pads and batwings, the 1980’s music fan will love The Glamour Chase: The Maverick Life of Billy MacKenzie (our Alison certainly does). Author Tom Doyle traces the story of the fabulous front man of The Associates who left a rich musical legacy despite his short life. But if their tastes run to beautifully crafted, emotionally-charged ‘2 a.m. songs’ Nileism: The Strange Case of The Blue Nile by Allan Brown is perfect, as he tries to unravel the most reclusive of bands. (We have a small number of hardback copies of Nileism, so if you really want to make an impact get one of these.)

And for something for everyone you should tune into Stuart Adamson: In a Big Country by Allan Glen. Beginning as dynamic guitarist for The Skids, Stuart Adamson would conquer the world with Big Country before branching out as part of The Raphaels and as a solo artist. But behind his success was a tragic story of alcoholism which would drive him to disappear to a lonely death.

So, there are our suggestions for harmony this Christmas but there are plenty more at

Monday, 12 December 2011

"If there's a cure for this, I don't want it"

Christmas is the one time you can go overboard but, unless you’re blessed with a cast-iron constitution and need no sleep, it’s probably a good thing it’s only once a year. There are, though, some people to whom the normal rules do not apply – Billy MacKenzie was one of those people.

The beautious Billy
The octave-vaulting charismatic front man of 1980’s band The Associates, he beguiled and unsettled in equal measure with the voice and face of an angel and the impulse-control issues of a spoiled 8-year-old. As with so many gifted artists ahead of their time, Billy was his own worst enemy and went from the top of the charts to the depths of despair in the blink of an exquisitely made-up eye. Convinced that the music industry had forgotten him and his career was over, he took his own life aged just thirty-nine leaving a rich dynamic musical legacy that continues to inspire artists today. We love him madly.

It came as no surprise, then, that resident Polygon hipster Alison chose Tom Doyle’s fabulous biography of Billy, The Glamour Chase: The Maverick Life of Billy MacKenzie as her Christmas pressie wish:

“One of the most entertaining music biogs ever written. It matters not a jot if you don't know who Billy MacKenzie was, this is an intimate, funny, moving account of a genuine one-off, taking in whippets, Dundee, chocolate guitars and heaps of 80s excess. Just gorgeous!”

Friday, 9 December 2011

All I want for Christmas is ... odd-shaped balls?!

It’s the traditional annual wheeling out of that joke in connection with rugby. If you have a rugby fan in your life then Southern Comfort: The Story of Borders Rugby by Neil Drysdale is the one for them. Neil is a freelance sports journalists who has written acclaimed books on Walter Smith, Dario Franchitti and how Scottish village Freuchie won the National Village Cricket Cup.

As a Duns man, it came as little surprise that Kenny Redpath – our events guru and former sporting champ – picked Southern Comfort as the book he’d crawl through a scrum to get for his Christmas:

“Coming from the Borders this was a book that I so looked forward to reading. Neil Drysdale didn't disappoint. There were so many rugby heroes that I idolised growing up! Practically every page has a story that made me smile and be proud of Borders rugby. It makes you realise just how much talent comes from such a small part of our country.”

You heard the man … line up, or line out if you prefer, for your copy!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dear Santa ...

We know you're bombarded with suggestions for what to buy people at Christmas, so we're going to be gentle with you. We'll post some thoughts here for books for people who like fiction, are into food or maybe like kicking balls of varying shapes around, for example, but we'll also highlight what made our lovely staff get all tingly.

First up, Sarah our publicity monkey. Known for her consumption of Irn Bru and love of Windswept Archaeologists (we're not sure what that means either), Sarah got all poetic with her Christmas pick.

Sorley MacLean: The Collected Poems is gorgeous on the outside and breath-taking on the inside. In Gaelic and English, with poems not previously published, material previously cut and a biographical essay showing MacLean to be as passionate in his life as in his work, it’s a thing of beauty all round.”

There's more about Sorley MacLean and his work on our web site, and we'll be posting more suggestions for Christmas presents over the next few days, so stay tuned!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Boyracer Done Good!

Once upon a time, long, long ago – well, 2001 – Polygon published a book called Boyracers. It was the coming of age tale of a boy growing up at brake-neck speed on the back seat of a car called Belinda on the roads around Falkirk. It’s become something of a cult classic but little did we know …
Flash forward to November 2011 and not only is there a brand new edition of Boyracers to celebrate the tenth anniversary of publication, but the author Alan Bissett – now a fully-fledged novelist, playwright and performer - wins the prestigious Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Writing.

Alan was presented with his Award by
up and coming crime-writer Ian Rankin.
Elizabeth Lafferty from Glenfiddich said,” Alan is a multi-talented writer and we are delighted to be able to play a part in recognising his achievements.”

We say, well done Alan! Shine on you crazy diamond! xx