However, the author and journalist Will Self has an unlikely secret life as a regular face in a North Lanarkshire library.

Motherwell, a town built on industry, is hardly a cockpit of culture, but Self says he enjoys spending time there, particularly in the library.

Self’s mother-in-law lives near the town and the writer visits several times a year, making the most of the town centre resource.

In fact, it was Self’s appearances at the library that prompted staff to ask him to participate in North Lanarkshire’s Words festival next Thursday.

The author will be reading from Psycho Too, a collection of his columns detailing his walks in the likes of Istanbul, Dubai and Easter Island.

Self says he is looking forward to performing and to taking questions from local readers whom, he believes, take more from such events than culturally spoiled Londoners.

He said: “It would be patronising to suggest that in Motherwell I would alter the content of my talk. I find questions are sharper and more involved from people outside London.

“Londoners tend to be very blase about art and culture. They listen to you read a text, then ask questions about your personal life rather than the literature they’ve just heard.”

In recent years the writer has become a practitioner of psychogeography, a method of mapping cities developed in the 1950s by the French Situationist school. Through unplanned walks, they aimed to uncover the ignored elements of urban landscapes.

Self, 48, has claimed the science for himself and taken it to extremes by meandering from starts to distant finishes by way of clambering over airport perimeter fences and along the edges of motorways.

When in North Lanarkshire, Self says he enjoys wandering from Tinto Hill down to the Clyde basin. It is, he says, one of his aims to walk from Motherwell into the centre of Glasgow, taking in the scars that mark out the area’s industrial past.

However, the writer believes more people would join him in his riverside forays if the local councils worked to improve the Clyde Walkway.

“What I really want to do is walk from Motherwell into Glasgow,” he said. “The history of the area is all along that river, but the Clyde Walkway is an underused resource and not cared for by the local council, who need to sort out the paths and rejuvenate it to help stop people overlooking what is in their own backyards.

“I have thought of walking from Tinto Hill through rural Lanarkshire past landscape scarred by open-cast mines, past the remnants of its spinning and cloth-making history, and further down past the old steelworks and down and into Glasgow.”

Luring Self to appear at the Words festival will, North Lanarkshire Council hopes, encourage more people to make the most of libraries, where levels of usage are wilting in the wake of the internet and cut-price books for sale in high-street shops.

The author, however, is pleased to have a reason to visit Lanarkshire, though he agrees libraries are suffering and is happy to lend his support.

“The decline began in the 1980s with the privatisation of public libraries and has continued. Libraries are trying to compete with the private sector by opening coffee shops and internet cafes.

“That’s not their place. I don’t want a coffee shop in my library. I want books.”

Inside Motherwell

Motherwell was noted as the steel production capital of Scotland and nicknamed Steelopolis, before the Ravenscraig steelworks closed in 1992.

The largest “fun park” in Scotland, M&Ds, is based within Motherwell’s Strathclyde Park.

Motherwell football club was founded in 1886 and has not dropped out of the Scottish top-flight since 1984.

Motherwell is the capital of North Lanarkshire, which is one of the country’s most populous areas with 327,000 people covering just 183 square miles.