Weak Teeth is a strong debut by Edinburgh author Lynsey May. Set in the Scottish capital, we follow Ellis as her life implodes. Her ten-year relationship has ended, her mother has started one with a much younger man, her job is insecure and her teeth are sore and in a mess. As she tries to work out how it all went so wrong we discover whether Ellis is as weak as her teeth or if she has the strength (and bite) to start again. I read this the week that I had a wisdom tooth out so could really empathise with her pain!

Tell us about the bookshelves in your home.

Bookshelves are everywhere in my home and there are never enough. Most of my shelves have double layers and I have a bad habit of piling books up in random places. As for arranging, very little of that happens, unfortunately. I will sometimes start a pile or section for ‘soon to be read’ but to be honest, chaos rules.

Which books are your most recent bookshelf additions?

The most recent books I’ve bought include The Matrix by Lauren Groff and Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith. I also have a proof copy of Jenni Fagan’s memoir Ootlin, which is a stunning read, and a proof of The Other Side of Mrs Wood by Lucy Barker that I can’t wait to dive into.

Do you judge people by their bookshelves?

I try not to, but I do love having a nose. What does weird me out is the way that people who don’t read much, or who pass books on as soon as they finish, then seem to have a huge amount of space.

Which is your most treasured book?

I have a few copies of books written by my grandma, Alison Thirkell, and I treasure those. As well as the first editions I have of debut novels written by friends.

A small slice of the chaos (courtesy of Lynsey May)

What do your bookshelves say about you?

That I love to read, I don’t like letting go of things and that I am not a tidy person.

What’s the oldest book on your shelf?

I’m going to interpret this as the oldest book I enjoyed and also own a modern copy of, and say the translation of Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book, written in the 10th century. 

Do you rearrange your bookshelves often – and where do your replaced books go?

Every now and then I force myself to do a cull. Only when things are getting really out of hand, though. I normally offer books that are for the chop to friends first, then take any unclaimed to the local charity shop.

Do you have any books from your childhood on your shelf?

I have a few although not many. I have two younger brothers so foisted many childhood books on them, to varying success. I do have a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Saga of Erik the Viking from way back when, though. 

Book lender, book giver or book borrower?

Giver all the way. I am bad at returning books and it makes me feel so guilty I have to say no when someone tries to lend me one. And I can never remember who I’ve lent things to when I’m the lender. Much easier to gift. Borrowing from the library though, that’s always a winner.

Whose bookshelves are you most curious about?

I’d love to nose at the bookshelves of politicians and decision-makers. Although if we made that a thing, I’m sure the shelves would just end up being curated for the photocall.

Introduced and compiled by Sonia Weir

Lynsey May lives, loves and writes in Edinburgh. She won first place in the Fresh Ink novel contest in 2020, a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2013, a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2015 and a spot as Cove Park’s Emerging Scottish Writer in 2016. Her short fiction has been published in various journals and anthologies, including The Stinging Fly, Gutter, New Writing Scotland and Banshee. Weak Teeth is published in hardback and eBook by Polygon.
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Sonia Weir is a contributing editor to Bookanista. She started the Ultimate Reads and Recommendations Facebook group in December 2018, which now has over 700 members from all over the world. The group is inclusive and aimed at every reader, no matter the books, authors or genre.
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