91 books directly related to Scotland 📚

All 91 Scotland books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Witch Wood

Witch Wood

By John Buchan

Why this book?

Witch Wood tells the story of a high-minded, ardent and scholarly young Presbyterian minister, David Sempill, who is called to a benighted Tweeddale parish in 1645 at the time of the War of Three Kingdoms, and how his desire to root out covert witchcraft amongst some of his most ‘devout’ parishioners at a time of civil war and plague leads to tragedy and exile. The Marquis of Montrose, on whose biography John Buchan was working at the same time, has a walk-on part in the story. John Buchan considered this his best work of fiction, and I agree.

From the list:

The best Scottish historical fiction written in the 20th century

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Book cover of Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the Eighteenth Century

Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the Eighteenth Century

By David Johnson

Why this book?

I’ll go ahead and admit that taking issue with David Johnson is one of my favorite pastimes. However, his work is the only work focused on eighteenth-century Scottish music, and as such is a major contribution. Johnson gives a very readable, very enjoyable (one needn’t know music…) overview of what was then known (1972) about Scottish musical culture. Arts and Enlightenment went hand in hand in Scotland, so read Broadie for the ideas and then Johnson for what these same philosophers were doing for entertainment.

From the list:

The best books on eighteenth-century Scotland

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Book cover of Glen of the Lapwing

Glen of the Lapwing

By Keith Brockie

Why this book?

Keith is another talented and hard-working artist with a fascination for nature. He paints from life, travelling miles over the rugged country of Scotland recording, birds, animals, landscape, and life. Often accompanied by at least one of his dogs, sometimes by bike as well as the essential 4 wheel drive. 

Kieth’s ability to find wildlife in spectacular surroundings is extraordinary, his valuable work shows us the beauty of a stunning landscape and the charm of the life within.

Meeting Keith is a pleasure, a man who imparts knowledge lightly and gives constant encouragement to enjoy the environment he knows.

This…

From the list:

The best coffee table books on landscape, architecture, and the natural world

Book cover of The Laird

The Laird

By Grace Burrowes

Why this book?

If you haven’t picked up a book by Grace Burrowes before, you’re in for a treat! The Laird is a tender, nuanced historical romance set in Scotland. But it’s also a confronting, and at times haunting, story that addresses some sensitive issues. The hero, Michael, returns home after nine years at war, to find his bride, Brenna, furious at his prolonged absence – and far more beautiful than he remembers. Both Michael and Brenna are strong, likable, characters, and their story is both heart-rending and beautiful…and, as always, Burrowes’s writing evokes strong emotion.
From the list:

The best historical romance books set in Scotland

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Book cover of The Sinclair Hound

The Sinclair Hound

By Caroline Lee

Why this book?

The hero of this story steals the show. Gregor the "Sinclair Hound" was hanged as a boy. As a result, he bears a scarred neck and a damaged voice. I do love a ‘wounded’ hero, and Gregor’s suffering is palpable. But he’s unwaveringly loyal and is infatuated with his laird’s daughter, Pearl. Little does he know that she too has a fascination for him – and when he’s charged with escorting her to a nunnery, sparks fly. The novel’s opening line drew me in, and I had to keep reading: "It wasn’t his duty to follow her, to watch…

From the list:

The best historical romance books set in Scotland

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Book cover of Suffering the Scot

Suffering the Scot

By Nichole Van

Why this book?

A lady trying to reform a gentleman takes a delightful twist in this story about a perfectly civilized Scotsman who inherits a British title and the family and estates that go along with it, only to find they all expect him to need lessons in etiquette. Nichole Van knows just the right tone to take to make you fall in love with them all. 

From the list:

The best historical romances sure to make your smile

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Book cover of The Wolves of Greycoat Hall

The Wolves of Greycoat Hall

By Lucinda Gifford

Why this book?

I absolutely adored this book. I laughed from beginning to end. This is an adventure like no other and set in one of my favourite countries, Scotland. I have been lucky to visit Scotland twice. Its history, culture, scenery, and people have intrigued me since I was a child. The main characters are kilt-wearing animals, eating lots of cake and doing their best to fit in. These wolves might be the polite high society type, but they have a voracious appetite that makes the story so entertaining. It’s a tale full of delightful Scottish humour, castles, dungeons, and a villainous…

From the list:

The best adventure books for children that love to travel around the world

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Book cover of Barracuda

Barracuda

By Christos Tsiolkas

Why this book?

This book is set in Scotland and Australia, with the narrator Danny looking back on his time as a schoolboy champion swimmer. Danny wins a scholarship to a private school on a sports scholarship and is bullied mercilessly. He’s not the most likeable character, but he’s obsessed with training and winning and you can’t help but feel for him as his life spirals downwards.

I love this book for its unflinching honesty and flawed main character. The class aspects are interesting too, with a boy from a working-class background feeling out of place in his new upper-class school. 

What fascinated…

From the list:

The best fiction with sporty characters

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Book cover of Scotch on the Rocks: A Contemporary Romance Set in the Highlands of Scotland

Scotch on the Rocks: A Contemporary Romance Set in the Highlands of Scotland

By Lizzie Lamb

Why this book?

When Ishabel Stewart’s life falls apart she returns to the tiny island off the west coast of Scotland to recover only she doesn’t plan on meeting Brodie, a sexy American who turns her world upside down. This is a fun book with quirky secondary characters, lots of romance, and laughter. I could hear the beautiful accent as I read and see the stunning setting of the western isles.
From the list:

The best contemporary romances with a Scottish accent

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Book cover of The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

By Graham Robb

Why this book?

 I love this as something quite different – essentially a close encounter with the Border by bicycle. He knows his history, writes well, and brings it all down to ground level, and conveys the lasting atmosphere (lovely, bleak, ruinous, enduring) of these Debatable Lands. A fine piece of historical travel writing by a deeply knowledgeable and astute writer. Makes you want to go and experience for yourself – if you do, take this book in your pannier (preferably waterproof).

From the list:

The best books for the walking the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands

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Book cover of Flemington

Flemington

By Violet Jacob

Why this book?

D.K. Broster dedicated The Flight of the Heron ‘To Violet Jacob in homage’. Violet Jacob’s Flemington (published in 1909) must be the most underrated novel about the Jacobite rising written in the 20th century. Jacob (probably best known these days as a vernacular poet) was born and bred in Angus on the east coast of Scotland, and her tale is set there; unusually it is mostly told from the Whig point of view. Again it is one of agonisingly divided loyalties. The descriptions of the landscape are pure poetry, but there is humour, nerve-jangling tension, and apt characterisation as…

From the list:

The best Scottish historical fiction written in the 20th century

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Book cover of Play is the Way

Play is the Way

By Sue Palmer

Why this book?

In 2020, as Chair of the Upstart Scotland campaign, I was invited to edit a collection of essays by experts from a wide range of disciplines. All were arguing for a more enlightened and coherent approach to the care and education of children between three and seven years of age. The 19th century approach to education in the UK and USA is completely out of kilter with children’s needs in a 21st-century world and we need radical change, starting at the beginning. This is when developmental foundations are laid that will underpin children’s lifelong learning, health and well-being. All teachers…

From the list:

The best books about child development and education

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Book cover of Civil War

Civil War

By Taylor Downing, Maggie Millman

Why this book?

A personal favorite as I bought this book as a teenager during the 350th-anniversary commemorations of the civil wars in the 1990s.  An underrated book and an excellent introduction to the conflict for anyone interested in the period. Covering major events in Scotland, England, and Ireland it has a multitude of beautiful colorful illustrations that bring the period to life.  The main narrative is interspersed with text boxes focusing on fascinating individuals, events, and cultural and social aspects conveying the richness and diversity of the conflict.   

From the list:

The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation

The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation

By Alexander Broadie

Why this book?

I think understanding the intellectual background to a historical period is always important, and I was introduced to the Scottish Enlightenment at West Virginia Wesleyan College through this book. I have since had the pleasure to meet and work with Alexander Broadie while at Glasgow, and he is a kind, generous, and supportive scholar.

The Scottish Enlightenment covers the significant breakthroughs in the thought of the movement, and the contributions of the characters behind it such as David Hume and Adam Smith. The importance of studying history, morality in civil society, religion, and art. The Enlightenment laid the groundwork for…

From the list:

The best books on eighteenth-century Scotland

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Book cover of The Prisoner of St Kilda: The True Story of the Unfortunate Lady Grange

The Prisoner of St Kilda: The True Story of the Unfortunate Lady Grange

By Margaret MacAulay

Why this book?

I couldn’t make this up: one night masked men broke into the Edinburgh townhouse of Lord and Lady Grange, gagged Lady Grange, bound her to a chair, and carried out of the house to a waiting horse. From there, they travelled across Scotland to the remote islands of St Kilda, where she was left for the next seven years. Lady Grange was by all accounts unbalanced and difficult to live with, so her husband decided to have her abducted, and told his friends she had died. The west of Scotland at the time was essentially a different country from Edinburgh…

From the list:

The best books on eighteenth-century Scotland

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Book cover of The History of Edinburgh. by Hugo Arnot

The History of Edinburgh. by Hugo Arnot

By Hugo Arnot

Why this book?

Published in 1779, this book shows far more about Enlightenment Edinburgh than it does Edinburgh history, and should be read for that reason. Full of myth, legend, bloody Scottish history, and contemporary events, it is written with the perspective of the historical enquiry of the Enlightenment as described by Broadie. Plus, it’s just fun to see how historic people saw and expressed themselves.

From the list:

The best books on eighteenth-century Scotland

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Book cover of The Lighthouse Stevensons: The Extraordinary Story of the Building of the Scottish Lighthouses by the Ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson

The Lighthouse Stevensons: The Extraordinary Story of the Building of the Scottish Lighthouses by the Ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson

By Bella Bathurst

Why this book?

In the late eighteenth century, and throughout the nineteenth, the Stevenson family were great innovators in lighthouse design and construction. While not the first to successfully tackle the engineering challenge of building a massive stone lighthouse offshore, where it would be subject to the merciless thrashing of the ocean, the Stevensons did become the most famous and respected group of engineers doing that kind of work. Their signature lighthouses off the Scottish coast, including Bell Rock and Skerryvore, served as standards for lighthouse builders who followed in their footsteps. Bathurst’s elegantly written book is a captivating profile of this consequential…

From the list:

The best books on lighthouse history

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Book cover of The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook

By Alan Lee

Why this book?

My sister read the Lord of the Rings trilogy to me when I was a kid while we were on holiday in Scotland and it was hugely inspiring. Growing up I thought I would like to illustrate the books - until Alan Lee did it so perfectly. No one can better his interpretation, as Peter Jackson will agree. His delicate pencil work and subtle use of colour have always, for me, set the bar for illustration. A highlight of my career has been having my own work exhibited alongside his.

From the list:

The best books of beautiful draughtmanship

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Book cover of Lassie Come-Home

Lassie Come-Home

By Eric Knight, Marguerite Kirmse

Why this book?

There is absolutely no way I can create a list of best dog books for kids without including this classic that truly captures and celebrates the mysterious bond between a dog and its person. I have said many times that my book, A Dog’s Way Home, was a “love letter” to Lassie Come-Home, which I first read at age nine and have re-read many times since. Set in England and Scotland, the story follows the separation of young Joe and his loyal and beloved collie, Lassie. When Joe’s family falls on hard times, Lassie is sold to a…

From the list:

The best books about dogs for grades 3 and up

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Book cover of The Things We Learn When We're Dead

The Things We Learn When We're Dead

By Charlie Laidlaw

Why this book?

In quite a challenging tale Lorna Love finds herself dead and on a spaceship. As the memories of her life return we find a question being posed; does the way you remember things affect the influence they have on your life? It’s quite a quirky book but generates a lot of thought about the way you view events and the way you let them affect you.

From the list:

The best books that make you think ‘what if…’

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Book cover of The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea

By Susanna Kearsley

Why this book?

This is a book that completely grabbed hold of me and held me tight to the last word. In 1708, the Jacobites came closest to succeeding in their goal of restoring the Stewart king to the Scottish throne, but they failed. Present-day writer Carrie is researching the events for her novel and finds an ancestral connection of her own to those involved. That connection, more an ancestral memory, leads her to uncovering truths long-forgotten and that nearly destroys her.

This book brings Scottish history to such vivid life, I felt after reading that I had lived the events. Many of…

From the list:

The best dual timeline novels

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Book cover of An Eye on the Hebrides: An Illustrated Journey

An Eye on the Hebrides: An Illustrated Journey

By Mairi Hedderwick

Why this book?

Hedderwick’s whimsical watercolors and text capture the heart of Scotland’s western isles and something essential about Scots, too. Over the course of a year, she travelled over the waters to and between these islands in her VW Camper, capturing with humor what makes these people tick – often just a brood of kittens nestled in a kitchen cupboard. I turn to this book when I am feeling nostalgic about Scotland. Hedderwick captures for me the undertones of Scottish life.
From the list:

The best Scottish books to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

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Book cover of Dirt & Deity: Life of Robert Burns

Dirt & Deity: Life of Robert Burns

By Ian McIntyre

Why this book?

This is an extensive biography of Scotland’s celebrated bard, Robert Burns, and includes a collection of unpublished letters. Scotland’s own “heaven taught ploughman,” gave life a run for its money, giving us in his few but fruitful years lines of poetry that match Shakespeare himself. 

Oh, would some 
Power the giftie
gie us
To see ourselves as
Others see us!

McIntyre gives Burns a good shot. No Scottish writer, including myself, could think of their career trajectory without Robert Burns standing out prominently along that line. He gave us the gift of hubris and the gift of the poetic gab. 
From the list:

The best Scottish books to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

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Book cover of Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland's Romantic North

Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland's Romantic North

By Mary Miers

Why this book?

Reading this book is like sheer escapism to the Highlands of Scotland. Beautifully illustrated, the author has an engaging style that carries you along as she tells the story of Highland lodges and how Scotland became the place to go to find rest and escapism as well as great sport. You come away seeing Scotland in a new light and wanting to spend August amongst the heather and hills. 

From the list:

The best books about country houses

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Book cover of City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts

By Victoria Schwab

Why this book?

Ever since her near-death experience, Cassidy has been able to see ghosts. There aren’t too many to worry about in her hometown (other than her best friend, Jacob), but when her ghost-hunter parents take her to Edinburgh, there are suddenly spirits everywhere... and some are old, powerful, and unfriendly. The worldbuilding in this book blew me away—Schwab did such good work establishing the meaning of certain symbols that I gasped in horror at her description of a knotted thread—and the book’s many facts about Edinburgh are educational without feeling dry. Reba Buhr’s voice builds up the tension in all…

From the list:

The best spooky middle grade audiobooks for family car trips

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Book cover of Witch-Hunting in Scotland: Law, Politics and Religion

Witch-Hunting in Scotland: Law, Politics and Religion

By Brian P. Levack

Why this book?

The distinctive selling-point of this work is summed up by its sub-title: a focus on law, politics and religion as causal factors, not just for humdrum witchcraft accusations but for major, sustained witch-hunts. Brian Levack has made a huge contribution to our understanding of witch-hunting, and here brings his specialist expertise to bear on Scotland, which experienced the most intense, and devastating panics anywhere in the British Isles (and worse even than most places in continental Europe).

Historians have long learned not to see witch-hunts as hysterical spasms of pre-Enlightenment ‘superstition’. Demonology was a serious subject in the sixteenth and…

From the list:

The best books on witch hunting in Britain and Europe

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Book cover of Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals

Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals

By Patrick Barkham

Why this book?

This book is a classic natural history quest: Patrick Barkham tries to find all the butterfly species in Britain and Ireland in one summer. It explores our age-old relationship with these fantastic insects, the eccentricities of the butterfly watcher's world, and the author’s adventures along the way, all tied together by the challenge he’s set himself. This is a really entertaining book and brilliantly captures the butterfly obsession, offering an excellent portrayal of what makes butterfly watchers tick.

From the list:

The best books about nature in Britain

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Book cover of Calculated Risk: Adventure and Romance in Scotland and the Alps

Calculated Risk: Adventure and Romance in Scotland and the Alps

By Dougal Haston

Why this book?

The sole novel left by legendary Scottish mountaineer Dougal Haston - prickly, opinionated, striking, not given to self-doubt, probably the finest all-around climber of his day. It has a great opening when an incensed young ambitious climber barrels his motorbike up the winding Loch Lubnaig road on his way to Glencoe, goes on to include a fictional version of his epic on the Eiger when the great American climber1966  John Harlin fell to his death beside him, and Haston helped rescue a stranded group of climbers and after a week-long drama finally summited the North Face. It is raw, emotional…

From the list:

The best books from the other side of the mountain

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Book cover of Waverley

Waverley

By Sir Walter Scott

Why this book?

To understand the trauma caused by the Napoleonic Wars, and the craving of people in France, Europe and elsewhere to return to the ‘normal pace of times’ as the Austrian Statesman Clemens von Metternich had it, Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ is the best vehicle to convey ourselves into the mindset of the contemporary Europeans. Europe had to curb the ‘evil passions’ and had to ‘come to its senses’. Just as Waverley’s young hero Edward does by letting go of his romantic love for the rebellious Flora and returning in the arms of his very English, quiet and harmonious fiancée, Rose. Scott’s…

From the list:

The best books on how Europe waged peace after Napoleon

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Book cover of Beyond the Empire: A Guide to the Roman Remains in Scotland

Beyond the Empire: A Guide to the Roman Remains in Scotland

By Andrew Tibbs

Why this book?

As detailed, the far north of Roman Britain was never fully conquered. Therefore it was the location of numerous Roman military campaigns, some of conquest and others to suppress aggression and dissent. Each Roman foray north of the border has left its footprint in the form of archaeology, and here Dr. Andrew Tibbs details each such site to enable the reader to visit and interpret them. Highly recommended.

From the list:

The best books on Roman Britain (by an award-winning historian)

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Book cover of The Celtic World

The Celtic World

By Barry Cunliffe

Why this book?

If you are looking for an overview of Celtic culture, this book is it. It is richly illustrated with artifacts, many obscure, which I appreciate. It is written by one of the foremost Celtic historians. Cunliffe continues to delve into the relationships between tribes of people who have been collectively called "Celts."
From the list:

The best books on Celts and Druids

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Book cover of Sunset Song

Sunset Song

By Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Why this book?

Written in 1932, but set at the turn of the twentieth century, this beautifully written and evocative novel has been adapted to both stage and film. I love this book with a passion, because of the beautiful prose and because in a way it taught me how the ordinary lives of my people are inextricably intertwined with the land. Sunset Song follows the life of Chris Guthrie a young woman on the east coast of Scotland, her relationship to the land and to the poor farming community she has grown up in. Like my novel, it is the first installment…

From the list:

The best Scottish books to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

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Book cover of Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World

By Roy Porter

Why this book?

The late Roy Porter wanted to show that England did not lag behind Scotland in promoting Enlightenment, and assembled a huge quantity of material to show not just the theoretical but also the practical effects of Enlightenment. Ranging widely, he dwells on practical projects like the building of roads and canals, on the beginnings of industry (e.g. Wedgwood’s pottery factory at Etruria), and on reform of the criminal law. A distinguished historian of science, he says much about medical experiments, scientific research, and the increasingly humane treatment of mental disorders.

From the list:

The best books on the Enlightenment

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Book cover of Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History

Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History

By Charles MacLean

Why this book?

Charles MacLean MBE is without any doubt the number one expert on Scotch whisky in the world. His writings are always a joy to read. Charlie, as he is known by friends and family, has a penchant for history and pouring it in highly entertaining sentences, avoiding facts like figures cluttering up the story line. He has been researching and writing whisky books & articles since 1981, and shares his enthusiasm and knowledge by giving talks and tastings around the world, by leading ‘whisky expeditions’ in Scotland and by presenting training programmes and Masterclasses for whisky companies, clubs and individuals.…

From the list:

The best books to learn about whisky & whiskey

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Book cover of The Sterkarm Handshake

The Sterkarm Handshake

By Susan Price

Why this book?

In The Sterkarm Handshake, the device for time travel is simply a tube; not magical, but scientific, down which modern ruthless developers travel back to 16th century Scotland. Here they meet with equally ruthless highlanders. The scientists are planning to plunder Scotland’s resources (the 16th-century locals have been plundering roundabout for years), and of course, the modern developers run into problems. As in all books of this genre, the characters who travel through time may want to fit in or may choose to reject what the past has to offer. 

The heroine, like similar time-travellers, falls in love…

From the list:

The best books on mysterious time travel

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Book cover of Ours, Yours and Mines: A Family Saga Set in the Miners' Rows of Ayrshire Scotland in the Mid-1800s to Early 1900s

Ours, Yours and Mines: A Family Saga Set in the Miners' Rows of Ayrshire Scotland in the Mid-1800s to Early 1900s

By Carmel McMurdo Audsley

Why this book?

This is another book for fans of ‘Faction’. This focuses on the lives of several Victorian Scottish miners and their families. The author based her book on research gleaned from her own McMurdo ancestors, and you are transported immediately to the two-roomed cottages where large families lived cheek-by-jowl and TB, miner’s lungs, and many other diseases were rife and women were worn out by the time they were 40. Fascinating glimpses of times past.

From the list:

The best indie faction novels

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Book cover of Never Seduce a Scot

Never Seduce a Scot

By Maya Banks

Why this book?

Eveline has a secret. Her family thinks her daft, but even though she cannot hear, she has taught herself to read lips. She is content to keep her abilities to herself, as it enables her to “hear” all the things people say when they think no one is listening. Unexpectedly, she finds herself betrothed to a rival clan leader, who accepts her begrudgingly, only because she is beautiful. But Eveline is shocked to discover that her new husband’s voice is so deep she can hear him.  

This book is more of a steamy romance than my usual choice, but I…

From the list:

The best books on girls who don’t need to be saved

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Book cover of A Litter of Bones

A Litter of Bones

By JD Kirk

Why this book?

In A Litter of Bones, DCI Logan is sent to investigate a child’s disappearance and is suddenly thrown back to a previous case of a child disappearance and death he was involved in solving. The killer called Mr. Whispers is in prison, so why are children disappearing in the same manner as when he was out? Logan is perplexed. Can his small band of misfit detectives with Police Scotland handle the case? I haven’t read a suspenseful book that made me laugh out loud, and then cry a few pages later like this. The funny Scottish words, the author…

From the list:

The best British books of suspense that will keep you up reading all night

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Book cover of The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

By Peter May

Why this book?

In The Blackhouse set on the Isle of Lewis, some small islands north of Scotland. Honestly, I think I felt the bleakness and the cold reading this. DI Fin Macleod must return to his birthplace and confront all the demons he left behind. In the process, he discovers he has a son. He also discovers that if he hadn't gone back, he would never have known how much someone there wanted him dead. I love a good atmospheric novel and the use of place and weather as a character.

From the list:

The best British books of suspense that will keep you up reading all night

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Book cover of Highland River

Highland River

By Neil M. Gunn

Why this book?

I choose this book because it gives me the most haunting sense of landscape and place. The author was from the northeast corner of Scotland and it was in his blood. I find it incredible that he’s able to capture it so deeply. We can feel these things, but to put them on paper is something else, a different skill. But somehow he manages to take you with him and to bring that landscape to life in the most incredible and powerful way. I suppose my greatest compliment to this book is that I wish I’d written it myself.
From the list:

The best books about spiritual places

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Book cover of The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

By Carl Sagan

Why this book?

This book, by one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, offers a personal insight into understanding and appreciating the vastness of the Cosmos. It’s a book that spans so much and paints the most accurate picture I’ve read of how we might fit into the Universe.  

From the list:

The best books for making sense of our existence in the Universe

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Book cover of The Bruce Trilogy: The Steps to the Empty Throne/The Path of the Hero King/The Price of the King's Peace

The Bruce Trilogy: The Steps to the Empty Throne/The Path of the Hero King/The Price of the King's Peace

By Nigel Tranter

Why this book?

Nigel Tranter’s Bruce Trilogy was the first historical fiction series I ever read. It fired a love of the genre that still drives my reading habits and writing today. The story of Robert the Bruce’s rise to the throne of Scotland and his fight to free Scotland from English domination can be found in history books, but Tranter made this hero of Scottish independence come alive like no straight history book could.

From the list:

The best historical fiction books with compelling heroes

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Book cover of The End of Men

The End of Men

By Christina Sweeney-Baird

Why this book?

The End of Men was written in 2019 and was in the process of editing when COVID first hit, making it an obvious choice in predicting the pandemic. In the year 2025 in Scotland, Dr. Amanda McLean reports a deadly virus that only affects men. But of course, she is not taken seriously because…you guessed it! She’s a woman. What follows is a global pandemic leaving primarily women behind to pick up the pieces as 9 out of 10 males die from the virus, including babies. The first moral: Do not discount the female voice! This incredible story is told…

From the list:

The best books that predicted the pandemic

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Book cover of The Highland Fling

The Highland Fling

By Meghan Quinn

Why this book?

Bonnie needs a second chance at life. Nothing says “starting over” like packing up your life and moving across the Atlantic to answer a help-wanted ad for a barista in Scotland. Why not? It’s not like Bonnie wasn’t just fired from her third job in a row and has anything else going on. She just wants another chance at doing life right and not feeling like a failure. Her high hopes are immediately challenged by grumpy handyman Rowan. This is a great opposites attract read, full of wit and humor. You’ll be charmed by the end and ready to book…

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The best books about love the second time around

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Book cover of The Chief

The Chief

By Monica McCarty

Why this book?

Set upon the Isle of Skye in the early 14th Century, The Chief is an exciting historical romance, with a lot of depth. The hero, Tormod MacLeod, is a man on a mission, to support Robert the Bruce in his struggle against the English. When he’s tricked into marrying Christina Fraser, a young noblewoman whose father was imprisoned for supporting William Wallace, he’s determined to keep his wife in her place. He has no time, or interest, in love. However, control slowly slips from his grip. This novel has one of the best kiss scenes I’ve ever read, and the…
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The best historical romance books set in Scotland

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The Beast on the Broch

By John K Fulton

Why this book?

12-year-old Talorca is a Pictish girl living in northeast Scotland in 799 AD. When Gaelic-speaking Dalriadans arrive in her village, her world is turned upside down. Her only friend is the mythical Pictish Beast, who has been injured by the Dalriadans. Talorca decides to take a stand against the intruders and hatches a plan to drive them out. But she can only do that with the help of the wild beast on the broch…

With a loyal and endearing heroine, a beast steeped in mystery, and a wonderful cast of characters, this tale of adventures is grips the reader all…

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The best Scottish historical fiction books for middle graders

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Book cover of The Bride

The Bride

By Julie Garwood

Why this book?

I must have a Julie Garwood novel on my list—and this is one of my favorites in the Scottish medieval romance category. In my opinion, Garwood writes great romance novels, with strong, attractive, and likable characters. This novel offers a determined hero and an equally headstrong heroine, combined with murder and intrigue. You’ll also have a few smiles with this one. I always enjoy a little humor in romance novels.

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The best historical romance novels that will make you fall in love with the genre

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Book cover of The Wolfman

The Wolfman

By Jonathan Maberry

Why this book?

I saw the 2010 movie first and then later found the book version in a thrift store and had to grab it. Both book and movie deftly create a gloomy, gothic, Romantic atmosphere; the book develops the characters and relationships further. It’s the age-old story of a man seeking to rid himself of a curse, pursued by the law and betrayed by someone who was supposed to protect him—I’m a sucker for that kind of tale! If you enjoy the classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, but find it harder to get through them or connect with them emotionally because…

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Book cover of Finding Fraser

Finding Fraser

By Kc Dyer

Why this book?

Although Finding Fraser features an older character, Emma, her youthful quirks and adventure are relatable to a younger audience. The travel to Scotland in search of Jamie Fraser (a character from a popular series) makes this book a dose of fun. I like the adventure and mishaps along the way due to being in unfamiliar territory. The friendships and relationships bring about both the good and worst of Emma’s behavior. It’s a nice balance for this chic-lit. 

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The best ‘opposites attract’ young love romance books

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Book cover of Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors

By Alice Feeney

Why this book?

I’d never heard of face-blindness before, but it plays a huge role in this twisty novel set in a snowbound setting. Married couple, Adam and Amelia, take a trip to a remote area of Scotland in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Adam has the added problem of face-blindness, an affliction that makes it impossible for him to remember faces—even his wife’s.

The setting is a converted chapel replete with a crumbling bell tower, unheated rooms, and the whisper of supernatural happenings. The past unfolds in a series of letters Adam’s wife writes to him every year on their…

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The best 2-fer supernatural mysteries with dual storylines

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Book cover of Churchill's Most Secret 001: The Life Story of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding

Churchill's Most Secret 001: The Life Story of Commander Harold Wilkinson Goulding

By Jill Goulding

Why this book?

Henry Goulding was commander of the WW2 Special Boat Service. There is a dark, incomplete story here. The real drama is hidden between the lines and yet to be proven. Henry Goulding was a friend of Churchill, accomplished spy, fiercely patriotic, yet he did something out of character when he hid a briefcase packed with top-secret documents in his attic. He was summoned to a hospital in Scotland, despite being fit and healthy, escaped after a scuffle, telephoned his wife, was returned to the hospital where he died shortly after, apparently of natural causes. His medical records have never been…

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The best books that provide a unique insight into military history

Book cover of Lingerie Wars: Romantic Comedy

Lingerie Wars: Romantic Comedy

By Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Why this book?

Okay, so this book is just outright funny. After dumping the ex-fiancé who stole her money, ex-model Kristy Campbell buys a lingerie shop in the highland village where she grew up. The problem is hot, hunky, ex-special forces officer Lake Benson. He has rolled into town to save his sister’s shop. The other lingerie shop in this quirky village. Heat builds as the two complete for the village’s lingerie customers.
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The best contemporary romances with a Scottish accent

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Book cover of Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

By Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Why this book?

It won the Pulitzer Prize in biography. Wolfe interviewed many people who knew Muir, and rendered an account that can never be repeated. This was the first book about Muir to explore not only his life as a naturalist and activist, but also his role as a son, father and husband, as well as an inventor, farmer and lobbyist. The text is buoyant and breezy.

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The best books about John Muir: Father of the American environmental movement

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A Rush of Wings

By Laura E. Weymouth

Why this book?

A poignant, passionate retelling of The Seven Wild Swans set in an alternate Scotland, this gorgeous book stars a prickly, fierce girl who will do anything to save her brothers from a wicked enchantment. Rowenna’s mother Mairead dies before she can teach Rowenna the magical craft she is so desperate to learn. But when Mairead seemingly comes back from the dead, Rowenna is powerless to defeat the evil creature wearing her face, who proceeds to curse Rowenna, her brothers, and the boy named Gawen Rowenna rescued from the sea. The boys are turned into swans by day, only shifting back…

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The best young adult fairytale retellings

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Book cover of Red Dust Road

Red Dust Road

By Jackie Kay

Why this book?

Jackie and her brother were adopted by a loving working-class family in Glasgow. They were communists and thoughtful about the adoption process. Jackie becomes a beloved poet and a wonderful public performer. She was recently made the Poet Laureate of Scotland – The Scots Makar. In this book, she traces her childhood and her quest to meet her father in Lagos and to discover her biological parentage and story. It’s a story of belonging and of not belonging. Of finding, fitting, and not fitting. It moves and uplifts us.
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The best contemporary memoirs by women

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Book cover of History of the Great Civil War: Volume I

History of the Great Civil War: Volume I

By Samuel Rawson Gardiner

Why this book?

Samuel Rawson Gardiner’s comprehensive and detailed account of the civil wars has laid the foundation for many of the subsequent histories of the conflict. It was the first account of the civil wars written by a professional historian who had spent a lifetime exploring the expansive and diverse first-hand accounts of the conflict.

All the books in this series are fantastic and highly recommended. 


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The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660

Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660

By Austin Woolrych

Why this book?

This is an integrated and detailed account of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms across Britain and Ireland, the English Republic and the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. It is written in an engaging and lively style and concisely integrates the large body of scholarship that emerged with the new British histories in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland: 1638-1651

The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland: 1638-1651

By Martyn Bennett

Why this book?

Still the best introductory text for students covering all major events in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in a concise and accessible manner.  This book steps away from the more Anglo-centric analyses of the conflict, looking at events in Ireland, Scotland and Wales in some detail.  In contrast with the books above, Bennett also steps away from the experience of political elites and examines the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians during the conflict.  

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The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of Malt Whisky Yearbook 2021: The Facts, the People, the News, the Stories

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2021: The Facts, the People, the News, the Stories

By Ingvar Ronde

Why this book?

Ingvar Ronde, a Swedish whisky connoisseur, writer, and publisher, surprised the whisky world with the first edition of The Malt Whisky Yearbook back in 2006. It became a classic instantly and has seen 15 updated editions so far. The MWY is an unmissable guide for professionals and whisky aficionados alike, fully packed with information about malt whisky distilleries around the world, images, figures about the industry, essays by foremost whisky writers, and tasting notes on the side. It is the only whisky book that always travels with me, wherever I go.

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The best books to learn about whisky & whiskey

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Book cover of The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence

The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence

By Neil Ansell

Why this book?

There’s a deep poignancy to this book about Ansell’s wanderings in the Rough Bounds where the highlands of Scotland meet the Atlantic in a series of rugged peninsulas, a ‘place apart’ thanks to its remoteness and inaccessibility; not only because it originally inspired his love of nature and being solitary in nature, but also because he’s now losing his hearing, and with it his relationship with the joys of birdsong, which became particularly important to him when he lived alone in a cottage in mid-Wales. The Rough Bounds have been called Britain’s last great wilderness, and yet the area has…

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The best books on wild and abandoned island places

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Book cover of The Thirty-Nine Steps

The Thirty-Nine Steps

By John Buchan

Why this book?

Written at the start of the First World War, when victory was very much in doubt, this cracker of a thriller sees Richard Hannay evade both crooks and cops in a chase across Scotland to preserve the secret of a murdered man. If he loses, the war might be lost – the stakes are that high. Hannay’s ingenuity is pushed to the utmost as the hunted fugitive. Buchan’s love of Scotland shines through, a terrific background to an unputdownable thriller. Filmed many times, the book has a tension and a pace that has never been really captured on screen.
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The best classic mysteries ever written

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Book cover of Golf in the Kingdom

Golf in the Kingdom

By Michael Murphy

Why this book?

This book is an absolute classic and should be in the library of every golfer who has ever touched those extraordinary moments we call the zone or flow. Murphy’s encounter with the enigmatic teacher Shivas Irons, has him questioning reality as he understands it with his logical mind. As their encounter unfolds, Murphy begins experiencing an opening of his perception to a deeper and more profound awareness of the forces and energies that can align to help create the perfect shot. This book shows how important it is to ‘get out of your own way’ and find your inner swing. 

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The best books on mind-body golf

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Book cover of Me and Ma Gal

Me and Ma Gal

By Des Dillon

Why this book?

A day in the life of two inseparable friends in an impoverished Scottish town where everything seems challenging. They learn what friendship truly means in the face of certain dangers. Dillon’s award-winning debut depicts the vitality and intensity of boyhood friendship, as well as painting a vivid picture of contemporary working-class Scotland.

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The best books about Scottish working class culture

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Book cover of Death at Wentwater Court: The First Daisy Dalrymple Mystery

Death at Wentwater Court: The First Daisy Dalrymple Mystery

By Carola Dunn

Why this book?

Daisy has solved 23 murder mysteries so far. These Christie-esque plots are set in London, at posh country estates, and in other parts of the British landscape. Daisy works as a journalist—an unusual job for a young woman in the ‘20s, especially one who is aristocratic and wealthy and, therefore, shouldn’t be working at all. Her assignments and social connections inevitably entangle her in murder investigations, which she solves with the help of a competent Scotland Yard inspector who in later books becomes her husband. 

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The best Roaring Twenties mystery series

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Book cover of The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps

By John Buchan

Why this book?

Buchan’s books are full of DIY heroes, men thrown into impossible situations but who manage to survive through their wits, a healthy dose of humor - and if necessary, with their fists. The book follows the hero Hannay, as he tries to escape German spies, first through England and then the wilderness of Scotland. The odds are stacked high against Hannay, but his bravura and strong will help him solve the mystery and dissolve the spy ring. Some of the views expressed in Buchan’s books are no longer politically correct and his works should always be understood in the context…

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The best novels about people with guts

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Book cover of Wishing for a Highlander

Wishing for a Highlander

By Jessi Gage

Why this book?

I know this is 'another’ Scottish time travel historical romance – but I’d been looking for a novel in this genre and this one was great. There are also touches of humor throughout that were reminiscent of Gabaldon’s writing style. Single and pregnant (yes pregnant!) museum-worker, Melanie gets transported to 16th Century Scotland when she examines an ancient wooden box. There, she meets Darcy – a brave yet innocent young man who becomes her unlikely protector when she’s accused of witchcraft. This novel grips you from the first page. Gage evokes the setting and time period brilliantly, and the…

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The best historical romance books set in Scotland

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Book cover of Eleven for Danger

Eleven for Danger

By Angus MacVicar

Why this book?

A Buchanesque MacVicar spins a dark tale of adventure against the charming Scottish scenery of Argyll in this 1939 yarn. Our hero is Alastair Campbell, Glasgow-based journalist and bachelor, whose plans for a cruise along the West Coast of Scotland are thwarted by a storm. Soon, he is stranded on a Hebridean island with a charming young woman – and nefarious individuals who are clearly Up To No Good. After a body turns up, they investigate and uncover a dastardly scenario to spread devastation and panic on Armistice Day (hence the title). Campbell is an appealing ‘lead’, as he doubts…

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The best 1930s/1940s ‘noir’ thrillers where science gets real

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Book cover of By These Ten Bones

By These Ten Bones

By Clare B. Dunkle

Why this book?

This book is at the top of my list because it’s one of my very favorites. Dunkle spins a gripping, atmospheric story with memorable characters, and you can tell she’s done her research on medieval Scotland. I love the old Celtic tales woven in, and the sweet romance between Maddie and the woodcarver. But what I like most of all is the theme of redemption. Maddie is a true hero, brave in the face of an unimaginably powerful, ancient evil. She showed me that you don’t have to be big or strong or rich or “somebody” to make a difference.…

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Book cover of Pine

Pine

By Toon Francine

Why this book?

Ghost stories thrive on limited viewpoints, but does the child at the centre of this novel see more clearly than others? Set against the bleak backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, 10-year-old Lauren wonders about the mysterious woman who keeps appearing to her and her harrowed dad. Especially as it is only Lauren who ever seems to remember her. Sad, creepy, and thoroughly recommended.

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The best ghost mystery stories

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Book cover of Consider the Lilies

Consider the Lilies

By Iain Crichton-Smith

Why this book?

The writing of Iain Crichton Smith is personal to me because he used to teach at my Highland alma mater Oban High School. I knew he was a well-known writer when I would see him in the corridors and that held quite a bit of fascination for me. The year I left that school, he also went his own way and would be awarded an Order of The British Empire medal in short order. Crichton Smith is another of Scotland’s under-celebrated, but powerfully evocative, writers, and Consider The Lillies is his most famous novel. This story takes place at the…
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The best Scottish books to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

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Book cover of To The Edge Of The World

To The Edge Of The World

By Julia Green

Why this book?

This is a beautiful story, simple yet profound. It’s about young, innocent, and a wee bit naïve Jamie, led to adventure by troubled but brave Mara.

The adventure takes us to St. Kilda’s, the remotest inhabited Scottish island. The island, the sea, and the quest to explore are used as metaphors for mystery and the pull of the unknown.

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The best books on the power of the ocean

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Book cover of A Dance Through Time

A Dance Through Time

By Lynn Kurland

Why this book?

With the backdrop of medieval Scotland, this sweeping tale of lairds, kilts, and castles is no ordinary time-travel romance. This carefully-researched tale brings a courageous heroine and a fierce hero together to face enemies neither dreamed existed. My first in a long line of Kurland romances, this story has all the elements of how characters can evolve and love conquers all. 

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The best swoony historical romance novels that don’t need bedrooms scenes

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Book cover of The Road Trip

The Road Trip

By Beth O'Leary

Why this book?

Speaking of road trips… guess what this book is about. A car ride. It’s not as simple as that, though. It’s a car full of people with history, and the story chronicles both the past and the present in a way that makes you care about each and every one of them. It also takes you from the south of France to the north of Scotland, which is a dream vacation that I thoroughly enjoyed taking through the pages. I can’t recommend this book enough! 

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The best books that will take you on a romantic getaway without making you leave the couch (or bring anyone else)

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Book cover of The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

By Nan Shepherd

Why this book?

"The thing to be known grows with the knowing." This slim book is the distillation of a whole lifetime spent knowing the Cairngorms. Every page is radiant with wisdom, and I think it’s close to perfection. A book all about matter and spirit, and how paying close attention to creation is an endlessly rich and rewarding devotion. 

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The best books to rewild the mind

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Book cover of The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661

The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661

By Carla Gardina Pestana

Why this book?

Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland experienced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. None of that will surprise historians of Britain, but they may not realize the impact of these events on Britain’s new colonies across the Atlantic. Some of them remained loyal to the king until his victorious opponents sent the first major Transatlantic expeditionary force to subdue them. 

Pestana shows how war and rebellion in Britain increased both the proportion of unfree labourers and ethnic diversity in the colonies. Neglected by London, several of them developed trade networks;…

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The best books on the 17th Century

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Book cover of The King's Peace, 1637-41

The King's Peace, 1637-41

By C.V. Wedgwood

Why this book?

This is another classic within the historiography of the period which along with S.R. Gardiner’s work is still considered one of the solid early professional histories of the period.  Although some historians may consider it a little dated, it is a concise and detailed analysis of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.  Wedgewood’s style of writing is accessible and lively. This 3 book series is still considered as some of the best books ever written on the period (be sure to check out The King's War and Trial of Charles as well).  

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The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

By George Mahood

Why this book?

Free Country features two young men, George, and Ben, who plan and execute a three-week, 1,000-mile cycle trip through the English and Scottish countryside. The catch? They embark on this journey with only the clothes on their backsides (Union Jack boxer shorts)! They must depend on the kindness and generosity of strangers to move their journey forward and I found myself anxiously turning the pages with a smile on my face.  

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The best books featuring unusual travel stories

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Book cover of The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation

The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation

By The Findhorn Community

Why this book?

Any reading on nature spirits has to include a book or two from the Findhorn community or Dorothy Maclean - one of its founders and plant spirit communicator. I recommend this one as it contains not only insights from many plant devas and landscape devas, but a broad overview of the formation of the Findhorn Community itself - which occurred in direct communication and cocreation with the plant devas themselves. A fascinating and eye-opening read. 

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The best books on nature spirits

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Book cover of Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape

Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape

By Patrick Laurie

Why this book?

We are blessed right now with an abundance of farmers who have good stories to tell. Three hill farmers stand out: John Lewis-Stempel, James Rebanks, and Patrick Laurie, whose Native is so lyrical that it reads at times like a prose poem by Seamus Heaney. Laurie’s book is an account, season by season, of his relationship with a roughish bit of land in southwest Scotland. It is part love affair with his small farm, and the curlews and native Galloway cattle in which he has an obsessional interest, and part critique of modern farming and the industrial timber production that…
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The best books evoking the spirit of the British countryside

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Book cover of The Mysterious Tadpole

The Mysterious Tadpole

By Steven Kellogg

Why this book?

Tadpoles aren’t known for being very exciting pets…unless they’re from Lock Ness, the most mysterious lake in Scotland! A little gift turns into a big surprise when a family discovers they may be harbouring a baby Loch Ness monster. I love how the family must come up with practical but inventive solutions to house their growing monster, which was an approach I also used with the pet care in If I Had a Gryphon.

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The best picture books about magical creatures other than dragons and unicorns

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Book cover of Ranald MacDonald

Ranald MacDonald

By William S. Lewis, Naojiro Murakami

Why this book?

At the start of the 1990s, I discovered a dusty, original edition of this book at my local library. Published in 1923 and reprinted in 1990, it tells the story of Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894)—a half Chinook and half Scot from today’s Astoria, Oregon—who may be the first North American to go to Japan alone, of his own volition. Heavily edited and annotated from his original manuscript, it is a complex story, partly because many of his words were posthumously re-written by a friend. This created a twelve-year obsession for me—to research and untangle the true story as it…

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The best books that have inspired me to write about Japan

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Book cover of Death is a Welcome Guest

Death is a Welcome Guest

By Louise Welsh

Why this book?

Louise Welsh has written three novels about a pandemic called the Sweats – her Plague Times trilogy. This is the second book in the series. I particularly liked this one because its protagonist, Magnus, is a Scottish not-very-good stand-up comedian, and I too was once a not-very-good aspiring comic! After a series of unfortunate events, Magnus ends up in prison, where the disease is rife. Breaking out, he decides to make for his childhood home on Orkney, accompanied by fellow escapee Jeb. The fast-moving plot will keep you racing through this book.

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The best books about pandemics

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Book cover of Outlander

Outlander

By Diana Gabaldon

Why this book?

If you haven't read this outstanding book, you're missing out on one of today's most talented authors of historical romance. Add a blend of adventure and time travel into this book as well. A young woman in post-WWII is accidentally transported to 1400s Scotland. The book is rich in Scottish history and a love story that spawned a TV series and eight more books that continue the life and love of Claire and Jammie.

I have always loved history, and I fell in love with this book (as did millions of other readers). Yes, the book is long, but don't…

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The best historical romance books to make you wish you lived in the past (until needs for modern conveniences arises)

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Book cover of The Last Warner Woman

The Last Warner Woman

By Kei Miller

Why this book?

Oh, this book was just magical. And the ending – wow! Everything comes together and how. The writing is just beautiful and the story is enchanting. This book transported me and wowed me - truly I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I cried so much while reading this book – the language is so poetic and lyrical. It is a story about stories and it is a masterpiece in my opinion. 

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The best books featuring multicultural characters and themes

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Book cover of Black Water

Black Water

By Barbara Henderson

Why this book?

Black Water is a thrilling tale of adventure by master storyteller Barbara Henderson. Thirteen-year-old Henry’s adventures trying to foil the smugglers, while facing the dangers of pistols, quicksand, and of course, the treacherous sea which could sweep him away at any moment, keep readers turning the pages to find out more!

This is a wonderful introduction to smuggling, the work of Excise men on the Scottish coast, to the job that Robert Burns did for a time, and even to some of his poetry. With an atmospheric setting and wonderful authentic narrative, this tale based on real historical events is…

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The best Scottish historical fiction books for middle graders

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Book cover of Charlie's Promise

Charlie's Promise

By Annemarie Allan

Why this book?

Would you break the rules or break your promise? On the outskirts of Edinburgh, just before the outbreak of WW2, Charlie finds a starving German boy called Josef hiding in the woods near his home. Josef can’t speak English and is desperately afraid, especially of anyone in uniform. Charlie promises to help Josef find his Jewish relatives in the city. It’s a journey that will force them to face their fears, testing their new-found friendship, and Charlie’s promise, to the limit

This is a beautiful story full of heart and empathy, and a welcome reminder of the kindness of strangers…

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The best Scottish historical fiction books for middle graders

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Book cover of A Thistle in the Mist

A Thistle in the Mist

By Megan Denby

Why this book?

I absolutely loved this book based on true events. Don’t be fooled by the name either. This is intense as it gets. A historical thriller slash romance that made you wonder how much the heroin can endure. Believe me, you are in for a ride. 

So much heartache poured from the pages, and you keep on reading in the hopes that love will conquer, and the evil will be stopped. Every character's persona was well developed and got under your skin as you became part of their lives and struggles. One of my favorites and a book I would read…

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The best books with provoking plotlines

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Book cover of House of Hollow

House of Hollow

By Krystal Sutherland

Why this book?

This thrilling, lyrical YA horror ushers readers into a modern fairy tale. Iris and her two older sisters vanished right under their parents’ noses when they were young children, only to reappear a month later with identical scars across their throats. Now in the present day, one sister goes missing again, and it is up to the other two to save her, while delving into the horror-tinged mystery that stole them away as children in the first place. House of Hollow is a visceral, eerie read to remind us that fairy tales and dark horrors go hand-in-hand.

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The best young adult books for spooks and thrills

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Book cover of Calum's Road

Calum's Road

By Roger Hutchinson

Why this book?

It takes real guts to prove all the naysayers wrong, and become a hero.

Raassay is a remote Scottish island, site of the Rona lighthouse, which Calum MacLeod tended full time until 1967 when he was 56, and the lighthouse was semi-automated.  As the only man living in northern Raasay, he had some more time on his hands.

To bring more people to the area, he decided to build a road, nearly two miles long, using just a pick, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, multiple pairs of wellington boots, and his bare hands.  It took him ten years. Today on Calum’s…

From the list:

The best books about true courage in facing danger when you are afraid; cowards who became heroes

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Book cover of The Restraint of Beasts: A Comedic Novel

The Restraint of Beasts: A Comedic Novel

By Magnus Mills

Why this book?

The previous four books on my list have been pretty dark. “Heavy,” I guess, is relative. I find a lot of humor in them and, ultimately, that’s why I either have re-read them or plan to. This one isn’t as heavy on the violence as the previous ones. Often cited as a good example of dry British humor, written by a former bus driver, it’s the story of two fence-builders who travel the English and Scottish countryside in a caravan erecting fences. However, it seems like every time they’re on a job, they end up accidentally murdering someone. Rather than…

From the list:

The best dark fiction for aspiring sociopaths

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Book cover of That Night in Paris

That Night in Paris

By Sandy Barker

Why this book?

That Night in Paris is the second book in Sandy Barker’s Holiday Romance Series, which is packed with beautifully described holiday destinations and the will-they-won’t-they moments we romance readers love. In That Night in Paris, Cat books an impromptu European coach trip in desperation after she has a few too many wines and sleeps with her flatmate. And what a decision that turns out to be when she bumps into her long-lost teenage crush in Paris.     

Cat’s on my dinner guest list because she’s feisty, fun, and oozes sass, while at the same time having a more vulnerable side…

From the list:

The best books with strong female leads who’d make great dinner guests

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