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The Golden Hare Books Agony Aunt answers YOUR reading and writing questions…

Alex, aka @ahwingate, asks:

“My question (and the struggle is real) is: how do you get over a book hangover? After I’ve read a book I really enjoy I struggle to get into the next one. It’s bigtime mopesville. And then I fall in love with that book and the cycle starts all over again…”

Dear Alex,

Ah, the good old book hangover.  We’ve all been there: so engrossed in a book that we didn’t want it to end, but like all good things, it had to.  The sort of book that follows us around for weeks afterward, convincing us that it was the pinnacle of our reading experience and we’ll never find another one like it.  It’s a hard come-down.  I’ve been there myself: most recently, it was Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, which gave me perhaps the most brutal book hangover I’ve ever known.  (It’s no surprise to me that in the wake of this novel’s publication, there were calls for real-life support groups to help readers deal with losing those fictional characters from their lives:

Everyone has their own go-to hangover cures, but let me share a few of mine with you:

Hair of the dog

We all know that sometimes, when you’re in withdrawal, the quickest remedy is simply more of what ails you.  If you’re desperate for more of a book that’s gone and ended on you, well… why not re-read it?  I’ve done this with several books that gripped me: I read Janet Fitch’s White Oleander three times in a row.  After I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, I had to read it again just to make sure I’d spotted all the clues (I hadn’t: the second read was even better than the first).  This cure isn’t just for fiction, either.  I loved Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem, 1692 so much that I had to start it all over again, too.  And certain poetry collections get me that way as well.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read Kim Addonizio’s Tell Me or Mary Oliver’s The West Wind.

Cold turkey

We live in an era of end-of-year book lists, in which folk brag on social media about how this year they’ve read 200 novels; 250 poetry collections; a book a day; they don’t sleep, they just read, they’ve read 500 novels in a year beat that etc, etc.  It’s a pretty terrible trend that piles pressure on slower readers, those with barriers to reading (e.g. dyslexia), or those who struggle with literacy.  Reading isn’t a race… in fact, once upon a time I believe it was considered a relaxing activity!  What I’m saying is: you don’t need to rush out and find something else to read right away.  If you just finished a book that blew your mind or broke your heart, it’s absolutely fine to take some time and simply sit with that feeling.  Personally, I love reflecting on a book’s revelations, even – or perhaps especially – after I’ve finished it.  If you need a little time to mourn a much-loved book, it’s all good!

The fried breakfast

You know how stodgy comfort food just seems right when you’re hungover?  There’s such a thing as a comfort book, too.  If you’ve just finished a book that devastated you (like Holly Ringland’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart or Maggie Nelson’s Bluets did me), it’s totally fine to turn to a familiar favourite for solace.  Your comfort book doesn’t need to have high nutritional value: it can be as trashy or sappy or silly as you like.  When I’m looking for a comfort read, I return again and again to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which I loved as a kid.  They’re all great, but Soul Music is especially daft and funny.  Once you’ve lined your literary stomach, you’ll be ready to get back out there and find your next, newly-published cocktail of delights.

The chaser

Sometimes, after a heavy spell of reading, you’re just too nauseous to start in on another big tome right away.  This is where poetry – essentially the replenishing acai-berry-and-wheatgrass shot on the hangover-cure menu – comes into its own.  Whether you opt for a slim single-poet collection or spoil yourself with a bumper-pack anthology, you’ll discover new reading delights without committing to another 300-page bender right away.  If you like your chaser thick and treacly, I recommend Rebecca Tamas’ newly-published Witch, from Penned in the Margins.  If you’re after more of a superfood cleanse, you need Amy Key’s Isn’t Forever, published by Bloodaxe.  For those of you after an anthology to peruse, Nine Arches Press have got you covered with their 2017 anthology Stairs and Whispers: d/Deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back.

Wishing you a clear head!
Yours wordily,



Caught up in a bookish conundrum?  Stuck in a reading rut?  Or maybe you’re a writer who needs a little one-to-one workshopping?  You can send your reading or writing related queries to Claire by tweeting with the hashtag #MayIAskew; you can DM Claire on Twitter via @onenightstanzas, or you can email with #MayIAskew in the subject line.  If you’d like your letter to be anonymous, just let us know: pseudonyms of the “Bookish of Balerno” persuasion are very much welcomed!


Claire Askew is the Writer in Residence at Golden Hare Books.  She is the author of the poetry collections The Mermaid and the Sailors (Red Squirrel Press, 2011) and This changes things (Bloodaxe, 2016); and the novels All The Hidden Truths (Hodder, 2018) and What You Pay For (forthcoming, Hodder, 2019).  Claire has won a variety of awards for her work, including the Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize, the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and a Jessie Kesson Fellowship.  She also works as Writer in Residence for the University of Edinburgh, and Schools Writer in Residence for the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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Golden Hare nominated for Nibbie’s Independent Bookshop of the Year!

The British Book Awards, or Nibbies, has revealed the regional shortlists for the 2019 Independent Bookshop of the Year, sponsored by
Gardners Books. But we need your help!

P.S. Thanks for the prosecco and sweeties, Canongate.
You know how to show a bookseller a good time!

Golden Hare Books is proud to announce that we have been nominated for this prestigious honour, along with all the other fabulous bookshops nominated. However, we need YOUR help to see if we can become Scotland’s favourite bookshop for 2019!

“But how can I help, as a humble Golden Hare patron?”

Why, simply by clicking this link and voting for us as your favourite Scottish bookshop. Feel free to leave a longer comment about us if you can, detailing the positive experiences you have had in our lovely bookshop!

We really appreciate you taking the time to vote for us and we’re very excited to see what feedback you all have for us. Thank you for helping to make Golden Hare Books the space that it is; we couldn’t have done it without you!

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The Reading Habit: The Best Books for Bedtime Reading

I can’t read personal development books before bed.

I get too excited to implement their ideas, so they keep me up at night.

As Golden Hare’s Blogger in Residence, I’ve taken up a monthly challenge in becoming acquainted with myself as A Reader. February’s focus was to identify what types of books are best for me to read at what time of day.

I used to be a staunch believer of reading only one book at a time, but lately I’ve had two on the go – one in the morning, and one at night.  

In the morning, seek books worth waking up for.

This is my favourite time slot for the page turners in my pile. Mine tend to be business, lifestyle, and personal growth books. Reading them gets me excited to take action on their suggestions. Besides, it seems sensible to read fashion books just before getting dressed.

Like a nutritious breakfast, books packed with positive energy set the inspirational tone for the day.

Or, Start the Day in Another World

Another way to start the morning is to read fiction. When my mind is empty, there’s something special about waking up in the world of another, and letting that world drift through my day as I explore my own.

Brainy Books for Bedtime

At night, there’s a delicate balance between reading something that is enjoyable enough to get into when I’m tired, but challenging enough to lull me off to sleep.

Ever since Julie introduced me to reading cookbooks for fun during my LitFix appointment, I’ve found that they slot nicely into this evening session. Wrapping my head around Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat tires out my mind, and as I sleep, the lessons organise themselves into my memory.

I also wind down through the puzzle of poetry, or any other text that makes me think.

What do you read before bed? Let us know on Instagram.

Xandra Robinson-Burns is a personal development author and founder of She is spending a year getting to know herself as a reader.

For assistance in selecting the books perfectly suited for your schedule, ask a bookseller in person, or book a LitFix appointment.

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Sometimes I Disappear Review

An unmissable exhibition showcasing the work of four artists who use self-portraiture to confront, and evade, the viewer’s gaze.

Oana Stanciu !EU (!ME) – Part I

Francesca Woodman [1958-1981] plays the ghost in her small, exquisitely crafted photographs of abandoned interiors; half there, half absent, presaging her own tragic disappearance at the age of 23; a short life to give birth to such hauntingly beautiful work.

The current Ingleby Gallery exhibition would be worth seeing for Woodman alone, but alongside her are Zanele Muholi [b 1972] a black South African whose strong, confrontational self portraits dominate and entrance the viewer with their steely glare, Oana Stanciu in stances at once unsettlingly provisional and wryly timeless, and presiding over them all Cindy Sherman [b1954] grand master of the posed self-portrait as mirror to our weird world. All self-absorbed, but in ways that reach well beyond the self to touch us all.

Not to be missed.

Reviewed by Mark Jones

Sometimes I Disappear is at the Ingleby Gallery until the 13th April 2019.

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Bibliophile Episode 10: “That’s a good name for a taxidermist”

In this first podcast of 2019, Julie Danskin, David Bloomfield and Jonathan “JT” Taylor discuss their most recent book picks, and in lieu of discussing a book group book talk how to track your reading. Lastly, they discuss reading resolutions for 2019!

Continue reading Bibliophile Episode 10: “That’s a good name for a taxidermist”
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Matty Matheson Signing Cancelled

Golden Hare is sad to announce that, due to an unforeseen family emergency, our upcoming signing event with Matty Matheson at 5pm on Monday 21st January has been cancelled.  As we’ve heard from Matty on Instagram, this is something that he deeply regrets but is unfortunately unavoidable. He has publicly stated that he may be able to return and fulfil his events schedule in March but also that he can’t yet guarantee his availability. For those of you who have pre-ordered and paid for a copy of the book, we will be in touch to ask whether you would like to pick up your copy, or alternatively a full refund will be issued. This was an unticketed, free event so hopefully this won’t cause too much inconvenience.
Obviously, we’re disappointed that we won’t be able to put on a fabulous event with Matty quite yet but we hope that in the near future another opportunity will present itself. We wish Matty and his family our very best wishes and hope that all is well back in Ontario.  Thank you for your understanding,
The Golden Hare Team
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Readers’ Salon Recommendations (January 2019)

On a dark and blustery night, with nary a Christmas twinkle to be seen, our readers came out in force for an superbly rejuvenating Readers’ Salon (the first of the year). There were some tremendous recommendations from some new faces and regulars, plus a spirited discussion on various topics, including (but not limited to) the size of Africa, the dispiriting effect of small town support for their local sports teams, Irish historical accuracy from British correspondents and the annoyance of writing supplementary novels in the footnotes. Enjoy our readers’ excellent selections below, all available either within Golden Hare or upon order! Continue reading Readers’ Salon Recommendations (January 2019)
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The Reading Habit: Reading Makes You A Better Chef

I’m obsessed with selecting the right book for the right moment. I let go of switching between fiction and non-fiction. I let go of limiting my rereads. I let go of annual reading goals. (Decembers in particular held no reading joy as I scrambled for the quickest reads). There was a time when I believed I needed to get through my TBR pile before letting myself add new books. Why buy more when there are already so many on standby? Continue reading The Reading Habit: Reading Makes You A Better Chef
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Bibliophile Episode 9: Recent Reads | The People in the Trees | Favourite Books of 2018

In this episode of Bibliophile, Julie Danskin, David Bloomfield and Jonathan Taylor reveal their most recent reads, then discuss the first novel by Hanya Yanigahara, The People in the Trees, then share their best books of 2018. Continue reading Bibliophile Episode 9: Recent Reads | The People in the Trees | Favourite Books of 2018
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Bibliophile Episode 8: in which we learn that Julie definitely likes sci-fi

Welcome to episode 8 of Bibliophile, in which we discuss our current reads, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and the Man Booker winner for 2018, Milkman by Anna Burns. David gives us more miserable nonfiction to read, Jonathan hands out interesting facts, and Julie definitely, definitely likes sci-fi. Continue reading Bibliophile Episode 8: in which we learn that Julie definitely likes sci-fi