Past Features

Turning Off The TV #20: Trainspotting


Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: Trainspotting.


Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

I’m aware that this was in fact based on the book Trainspotting (Mark Renton #2) by Irvine Welsh, but the film has such a cult following that I thought it would be a good one to cover.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Whilst it’s set in New York, rather than Glasgow, Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. similarly follows the stories and lives of several people – a drug addict, a transvestite, a criminal and more. It is a very honest description that doesn’t hide anything, and was apparently banned in the UK in the 1960s! Which has to make it worth reading, right?

Junk by Melvin Burgess

Junk by Melvin Burgess

I read several Melvin Burgess books as a teenager, and I was always struck by the sheer brutal rawness of his writing. Junk by Melvin Burgess is the story of two teens who fall in love with each other – and heroin. Maybe it’s a shocking idea for a book for teenagers – but it’s not like this sort of thing never happens, and literature aimed at young adults should tackle topics like sex and drugs.

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick is a typical PKD book – weird, a bit trippy and very clever. It is about an undercover narcotics agent called Bob Arctor, who has to indulge in the very drugs he is trying to bust, in order to fit in. However, he is soon informed of a new lead within the drug ring – a man by the name of Bob Arctor. It’s a pretty harrowing portrayal of what drugs can do to the mind, and definitely worth a read.

Junky by William S. Burroughs

Junky by William S. Burroughs

A dark account of a drug addict in 1953 New York, New Orleans and Mexico City, Junky was William S. Burroughs first novel. It was a risky move during a period of anti-drug hysteria, but it paid off – the book is now considered a modern classic.

Are you a fan of Trainspotting? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?