Non-Fiction Book Club – Fifth Season

We are happy to announce the list of books for the fifth season of the McNaughtan’s Non-Fiction Book Club, which will begin in December 2019 and will run until April 2020. Find the full reading list and meeting dates below, and if you would like to support an independent bookshop, all of the books will be available for purchase at Typewronger Books, which we are currently hosting in our gallery space.

The meetings will take place once a month on Thursdays, from 6.30 to 8pm.

If you would like to receive reminder notices and announcements of new schedules sign up to the book club mailing list:

We look forward to welcoming you at our book club!

5 December, At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell

At the Existentialist Café tells the story of modern existentialism as one of passionate encounters between people, minds and ideas. From the ‘king and queen of existentialism’ – Sartre and de Beauvoir – to their wider circle of friends and adversaries including Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Iris Murdoch, this book is an enjoyable and original journey through a captivating intellectual movement. Weaving biography and thought, Sarah Bakewell takes us to the heart of a philosophy about life that also changed lives, and that tackled the biggest questions of all: what we are and how we are to live.


9 January, Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

‘Speak, memory’, said Vladimir Nabokov. And immediately there came flooding back to him a host of enchanting recollections – of his comfortable childhood and adolescence, of his rich, liberal-minded father, his beautiful mother, an army of relations and family hangers-on and of grand old houses in St Petersburg and the surrounding countryside in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Young love, butterflies, tutors and a multitude of other themes thread together to weave an autobiography, which is itself a work of art.


13 February, The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher

‘Language is mankind’s greatest invention – except of course, that it was never invented.’ So begins Guy Deutscher’s fascinating investigation into the evolution of language. No one believes that the Roman Senate sat down one day to design the complex system that is Latin grammar, and few believe, these days, in the literal truth of the story of the Tower of Babel. But then how did there come to be so many languages, and of such elaborate design? If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of ‘man throw spear’, how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced shades of meaning? Drawing on recent, groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication.


12 March, Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

People from deprived communities all around Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. Glaswegian Darren McGarvey aka Loki gives voice to their feelings and concerns, and the anger that is spilling over. Anger he says we will have to get used to, unless things change. He invites you to come on a safari of sorts. A poverty Safari. But not the sort where the indigenous population is surveyed from a safe distance for a time, before the window on the community closes and everyone gradually forgets about it.


16 April, The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber

Where does the desire for endless rules and regulations come from? How did we come to spend so much time filling out forms? And just how much are our lives being ruined by all this nonstop documentation? To answer these questions, the LSE anthropologist David Graeber, traces the unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice. Is the inane, annoying paperwork we confront daily really a cipher for state violence? Is the capitalist promise of salvation through technology just a tool for the powerful to exert more control? Graeber provides a forceful, radical answer to these questions, while also suggesting there may be something perversely appealing, even romantic, about bureaucracy.

Location & Opening Times

3a & 4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE

Opening Hours

Open seven days a week, 11am - 5pm

On Thursdays late night opening until 8pm