Irvine Welsh: TOP TEN BOOKS

Irvine Welsh’s Favorite Books

Irvine Welsh photographed by Rankin

Irvine Welsh roared on to the literary scene with his 1993 novel, “Trainspotting,” a blisteringly funny and impassioned novel about a young junkie, Mark Renton, and his lunatic friends in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was made into a hit movie by Danny Boyle, launching the movie career of Ewan McGregor in the process. Ten more novels have followed “Trainspotting,” including a sequel, “Porno,” for which Boyle and the original cast have reunited for “T2 Trainspotting.” “These characters are all from the industrial working class, being made redundant, being made socially irrelevant in Britain,” Welsh told Dazed in 2016. “Twenty, thirty years later it’s happening to the middle classes… we’re rationing out the dregs of capitalism to people.”

Below are Irvine Welsh’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.



James Joyce
Read this book in every one of my adult decades and got something different from it each time. “Ulysses” isn’t a novel, it’s a life project, and like life itself, we embark upon it striving towards understanding it.
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1982, Janine

Alasdair Gray
Lanark is widely and justifiably regarded as Gray’s masterpiece. But I love this novel and its protagonist; masturbating, alcoholic, conservative Jock. It shows the dismal outcome of a life that succumbs to fear, but is still somehow an uplifting book.
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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
It’s an easy pick. Music in the form of words. It’s every Western pseudo-lit lover asshole’s cliché of a ‘spiritual third world novel’ that I almost hate myself for loving it, but I do.
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Cities of the Red Night

William S. Burroughs
It’s fashionable to read “Naked Lunch,” proclaim Burroughs as a genius, sometimes dip into “Junky,” and forget the rest. The truth is that Burroughs’ best novels were the ones he wrote in the later years of his life, like “The Western Lands,” and this beautiful work.
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A Disaffection

James Kelman
Still the most satisfying of Kelman’s novels. I reread it recently, and it seems to have gained even more potency through time. We’ve all been Patrick Doyle, going into a place of work, and even through your life, and feeling hopelessly, utterly miscast.
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Iceberg Slim
This biography, written with a novelist’s stylization, was an incendiary moment in western culture. Ironically, it became the weapon that would win the cultural wars for dispossessed black, urban America. It’s impossible to think of what street culture of white Hollywood would look like without it. Slim is the most influential writer in English since Shakespeare.
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Don DeLillo
This was the book that made my John Updike collection pretty much superfluous. In one big, sprawling, ambitious novel, DeLillo captures the soul of white America at its most optimistic, soaring and sad — an amazing achievement. You can read this and look at what the country is now and cry tears.
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Football Factory

John King
“Coventry are fuck all. They’ve got a shit team and shit support. Hitler had the right idea when he flattened the place.” Yes, I was hooked from the opening sentences too. This is the most important English novel since Orwell put pen to paper.
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American Psycho

Bret Easton Ellis
Along with “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk, here are the two novels from the end of last century which have not been overtaken as the seminal works in defining America in this century. One deals with the out-of-control greed and power lust of the 1%, the other with the lost generations of the 99% — poorer than their parents for the first time in American history. Read them together and you have the USA.
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The Great Gatsby

F.Scott Fitzgerald
This has the harsh tone of fictionalized life, and Jay Gatsby’s experiences draw heavily on Fitzgerald’s descent into alcoholism, and his wife Zelda’s succumbing to mental illness. Nobody in the English-speaking world has been able to write sentences like this author.
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