Alan Cumming: How books became my friends at early age

Actor Alan Cumming. Picture: Getty Images
Actor Alan Cumming. Picture: Getty Images
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AHEAD of Book Week Scotland on 23 November, Alan Cumming kicks off the first in a week-long series of reflections, Thank Books, on the power of literature and the people who deserve thanks for guiding them to it

I suppose I should really thank my dad. He was a forester and therefore we lived in a very remote place. It meant that books became my friends and companions and confidants from a very early age. If we had lived in a town, or even a village - basically anywhere where there were other kids around to play with or somewhere that had streetlights and pavements that I might have skulked under or skateboarded along - then I would have been out of the house and not upstairs in my room, or in my secret hiding place in the attic, reading with a torch (even when it was daylight outside).

Also getting a book token for Christmas or my birthday was the greatest gift I could hope for. I could actually get what I wanted and it would have to be a BOOK! So I suppose I must thank my mum for that as I am sure it was she who instructed friends and relatives to give them to me. And then there is my school, Monikie Primary in Angus, where my teachers like Mrs Gibson and Mr Topple were very book positive. I remember we went on a school trip to London and there was a prize for the best project on our adventure. I was determined to win because, guess what, the prize was a book token. And I won.

I won in all sorts of ways because now I get to write books and people read them. I feel I’m helping them in the way that the books I read when I was younger helped me.

• There are hundreds of fantastic free events going on across the country during Book Week Scotland. Not-to-be-missed highlights include a special event with author Scarlett Thomas in amongst the carnivorous plants at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens on 24 November, An Evening with Cathy Rentzenbrink at Waterstones in Dundee on 25 November, a Faber Social night of storytelling, performance and the secrets of the Scottish music scene on 27 November in Edinburgh and An Evening with Paula Hawkins, also on 27 November, in Inverness. Information on all events can be found at www.bookweekscotland.com. For more information on Thank Books, search for #ThankBooks on Twitter