YOU can live a life or you can read books. Maybe you can do both, but if we’re forced to choose we’ll stick with the book-reading, thank you very much.

Still, if you do fancy taking a break from the sofa and that new Jack Reacher paperback there is a possible Plan B. You could take in some of the events at this year’s Aye Write festival in Glasgow, which runs from May 19 to May 28 (plus the odd postscript in June).

With 175 authors and more than 120 events, this year’s programme should have something for everyone; from crime fiction fans (Alan Parks and Robbie Morrison are talking about their Glasgow detective novels on May 27), to music lovers (Rick Buckler, drummer with The Jam will be talking to Zoe Howe on May 26).

And from gardeners seeking advice (Kirsty Wilson of Beechgrove Garden fame on May 20) to political junkies (political commentator Darren McGarvey on May 19).

The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is the main venue this year but the Mitchell Library will also be called into play.

What follows is a list of 10 Aye Write shows that give some sense of the scope and range of this year’s festival. Bookmarks at the ready.


Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 19, 6pm

Never mind Black British, can you be Black Scottish? If so, what might that mean? And how does nationality and history play a part in shaping it? Using interviews and surveys, Francesca Sobande and Layla-Roxanne Hill have been asking these very questions to paint a picture of the lives of black people in Scotland in the 21st century


Jenny Boyd and Kim Hawes – Music, Marriage and Management: A Rocky Road

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 19, 7.45pm

The best music stories are not tales about guitar strings and recording sessions. They’re about life experience. And both Jenny Boyd and Kim Hawes have plenty of the latter. Boyd was a model in London in the swinging 1960s. Her boyfriend was Mick Fleetwood and her sister Pattie was married to a Beatle (George if you didn’t know), so Boyd was right at the heart of the scene. Hawes, meanwhile, was a pioneering tour manager who worked with everyone from Motorhead and Black Sabbath to Elvis Costello and Chumbawamba. Both, then, have unique perspectives on the musical giants of the late 20th century.


Doug Johnstone, Ever Dundas and Martin MacInnes

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 20, 12.45pm

Sometimes the best way to reveal what the world is truly like is to imagine how it’s not. These three authors all use fantasy and science fiction tropes to look at the place we live in through the looking glass. Johnstone, best known for his crime fiction, has now veered into sci-fi with The Space Between Us, which tracks three women who suffer catastrophic strokes when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, and then miraculously recover. Ever Dundas explores the idea of a font that can be both heaven and hell depending on who sees it in her latest novel, HellSans. And Martin MacInnes explores the depths of the ocean and the history of humankind itself in his highly acclaimed new novel, In Ascension. All three remind us that speculative fiction is the perfect delivery vehicle for big ideas.


Tom Clark, Kerry Hudson and Daniel Trilling – Broke: Fixing the Poverty Crisis

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 20, 9.15pm

Food banks, rough sleepers, malnutrition. That is the reality of Austerity Britain in 2023. Tom Clark has visited the communities on the front line of the poverty crisis to discover what it means to be poor today. He’s joined for this event by Herald columnist Kerry Hudson and Daniel Trilling to discuss the reality for far too many people in the UK and to also ask what we can do about it.


Sally Magnusson

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,

May 21, 7.45pm

Broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson returns to Aye Write to introduce her latest novel, Music in the Dark. Set in the last years of the 19th century, this is a story of love found in later life and the debilitating effects of trauma. Can you have a future when the past still haunts you?


Aasmah and Almas Mir – A Pebble in the Throat: Growing Up Between Two Continents

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 26, 6pm

In her memoir, A Pebble In The Throat, broadcaster Aasmah Mir gives an account of her own experience growing up in 1970s Glasgow – from bullying to escaping into books – and also tells the story of her own mother, Almas, who emigrated from Pakistan to Scotland in 1966. In this special event mother and daughter will be in conversation.


John H Reid – The Eagle and the Bear: A New History of Roman Scotland

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,

May 27, 12.45pm

John H Reid has written a provocative new history of Roman Scotland, which takes in invasion, resistance and rebellion. Reid contends that the question to ask is not what the Romans did for us, but what they did to us. Taking in everything from Hadrian’s Wall to the disappearance of the Ninth Legion, he paints a picture of Roman imperialism and considers what it meant for our ancestors.


Jenny Colgan and Karen Swan – Island Romances

Mitchell Library, May 27, 4.15pm

From ancient Rome to modern(ish) romance. Jenny Colgan (five million book sales and counting; now that’s impressive) and Karen Swan come to Glasgow to talk about life and love on Scotland’s islands. Colgan’s new novel, The Summer Skies, tells the story of Morag McGinty who runs puddle-jumper flights between the islands of northern Scotland, while Swan returns with The Stolen Hours, set on St Kilda in the late 1920s, the second book in her The Wild Isle series.


Pat Nevin – Football and How to Survive It

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,

May 28, 6pm

How to survive football? Easy. Don’t support Tottenham Hotspur. But if you’re not, as I am, cursed with that affliction, here is Pat Nevin to talk about his time playing for Tranmere Rovers and Kilmarnock and then becoming both player and Chief Exec of Motherwell. Nevin remains one of the most likeable and approachable football commentators and as his new book reminds us, he’s seen the good, the bad and the ridiculous side of the beautiful game. STV’s John MacKay will chair this event. Now, who does he support?


Stuart Braithwaite – Spaceships Over Glasgow

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, May 28, 9.15pm

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite published his eye-opening (at times eye-watering) memoir last autumn. It’s a riotous account of excess and musical ambition that takes him from delinquent school days to fronting one of the most loved (and loudest) bands in Scottish pop history. He comes to Aye Write to tell us all about his life in rock ’n’ roll.

For more information on this year’sFor programme visit