Literary City Guide | Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Imaginatively Glasgow exists as a music hall song and a few bad novels.
— Alasdair Gray, Lanark (1981)

Tour Guide: Rosie Liljenquist

Rosie Liljenquest

Often Glasgow is referred to as the ugly step-sister to Edinburgh, and in some ways this stereotype is not entirely far from the truth. However, after moving to Glasgow for university to study and practice archives, Rosie promptly fell head over heels in love with the nitty-gritty yet marvelously beautiful city of Glasgow. Currently back in the States, she yearns for the day she may return to her Glasgow home. You can find her writings here. (Photos by Rosie Liljenquist)


Relationship to Glasgow: Came to study archives at Glasgow Uni.

Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Jane Austen

Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Jamie Oliver

Writing soundtrack: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (performed by Joshua Bell & The Academy of St. Martin in the Field)

Pen or Pencil: Colored pens and pencils

Coffee or Tea: Hazelnut hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Paperback or Hardback: Paperback 

Good Reads


Voltaire & Rousseau. A wonderful little store just off Otago Street in West End, full to the brim with used books. Initially, a bit difficult to navigate but the staff are more than happy to help. If willing to dig a little, some great used and rare books can be found at fantastic prices.

Caledonia Books. Located on Great Western Road, Caledonia Books has a wealth of Scottish history books, philosophy, and just about everything else. Great front windows supply ample natural light, perfect for amiable browsing.  

Oxfam Books. Great for second hand books. Stock is always revolving so there is a great variety. 


Glasgow Uni. Library. Eleven floors of impeccably organized circulating stacks and a 12th floor dedicated to special collections, complete with a cafeteria and computers on almost every floor, you’ll never want to leave. 

Mitchell Library. One of Europe’s largest public libraries, the Mitchell sports a distinctive green dome and lends itself as one of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks and it’s a great library/archives to boot. The Mitchell is also a GREAT resource for family history as they house most of the local and regional records dating back to the 1800s.

Partick Local Library. Fantastic little local library with a wide array of children’s books. 


Bard in the Botanics. Every year the Botanic Gardens host an award-winning Shakespeare in the Park-type festival with evening and matinee shows.  

Aye Write! This event has been an annual staple in Glasgow since 2007. Usually held in early April at the Mitchell Library, Aye Write! celebrates national, regional, and local writers highlighting both those with established names and newly emerging talent.

University of Glasgow School of Critical Studies. The school hosts a Creative Writing Visiting Speakers lecture series that has included Margaret Atwood and Alasdair Gray. 


Glasgow Scribes. A calligraphy writing group meets from September to May in the Mitchell Library.

Adam Smith Statue. The prominent philosopher and political economist matriculated at Glasgow in 1737 and was appointed professor of Logic in 1751. His statue is located in the collegiate gothic Gilbert Scott Building. His finger often needs replacing for legend says that students break it off for a souvenir.

Good Eats


Tinderbox. Located on Byres Road, Tinderbox sports a great selection of coffees and wonderful sandwiches. 

Avenue G. The best bacon sandwich in West End and wonderful espresso and flavored hot chocolates. 

Cafezique. A quaint little two-story coffee spot with variety of organic selections. 


Ubiquitous Chip. Authentic Scottish fare located down the vibrant Ashton Lane. Meals include a tasty haggis, neeps, and tatties, game pie complete with authentic buckshot, fish pie, and the most wonderful sticky toffee pudding. The menu changes seasonally but they always have wonderful Plowman’s platter appetizer and salads. 

Ketchup. Burgers. Burgers. Burgers. Wonderful assortment of burgers including impala and buffalo. Giant onion rings. And knickerbocker glory ice cream makes for a well-rounded and delicious meal. Also, the house-made Ketchup (hence the name) is a unique blend of delicious flavors. 

Wee Curry Shop. A lot of meal for not a lot of buck. Great tikka masala. Spicy lamb curry. And it always smells great. 

Two Fat Ladies. Seasonal seafood fresh off the boat at two locations, one in West End and the other in City Centre, with a regularly changing menu and the romantic ambience make this a great place for a nice date and an amazing meal.


University Café. Soft serve ice cream. Raspberry syrup. Tasty pastries. ‘Nough said. 

Café Avanti. In a land full of fish-n-chips, Café Avanti takes the cake or the salt and vinegar and Iron Bru. 

Crepes. A wonderful little crepe shop with giant tubs of Nutella on display in the window and a wide range of sweet and savory delights, you can eat in or take away and walk to the gardens which are right across the street.  

Rosie's 5 Favorites

Favorite view: Eleventh floor of the University library. The whole of West End is spread out beneath your feet with the Gilbert Scott building taking center stage. 

Favorite place to write: The comfort of my living room. It doesn’t have the glamour of the library but it has all the coziness and inspiration that I need. 

Favorite museum: Kelvingrove Art Gallery. We go there weekly and never tire of their exhibitions. Performances on the organ are held daily and a famous Salvador Dali hangs in the wings.  

Favorite coffee shop: Too many to pick just one.

Favorite thing about Glasgow: The eclectic architecture and the food.