Our Favourite Scottish Books

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Blair Cowan

Here at Elastic, we love to read. And living in the Festival City means we’ve got loads of chances to see amazing book-related events at the Edinburgh Book Festival, which kicks off this week. So in honour of Book Lovers Day (a very real holiday taking place today) and the Book Festival, here’s a roundup of some of our favourite books set in Scotland, written by Scots or, in one special case, inspired by Scotland.

  • The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark: You didn’t think we could have a list like this without including Muriel Spark, did you? While Girls may not be as well-known as some of her other works, it’s an enduring classic for a reason. Set mainly in London during the Blitz, you can read this novella in an afternoon (I did!), and you’ll be amazed at how well you can relate to the story of young women living in tight quarters. It may be 50 years old, but some things never change, and one of them is flatmates!
  • Out of the Blue, Sophie Cameron: Set in the midst of the Edinburgh Festival, this book is nothing if not perfect to read just now. It may be targeted to a YA audience, but there’s something in this book for everyone. It’s inclusive, fanciful and captivating- and if you’ve ever been in Edinburgh in August, you’ll love it.
  • Outlander, Diana Gabaldon: A best-selling book for over two decades before it became an award-winning TV show, this may not be a classic exactly, but it’s still a gripping page-turner perfect for wiling away a hot summer, or a cold winter by a fire. Either way, pour yourself a nip of whisky and get ready to ignore the world for a few days while you lose yourself in the magical world of 1940s- I mean 1740s- Scotland.
  • The Kiss, Joan Lingard: Split between the atmospheric museums of Paris and the familiar-to-residents streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town, this novel is a delicately-written book that follows one man’s descent into having an affair with a teenager, and the aftermath of that decision.

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  • At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen: The mystery of the Loch Ness Monster, the glamour of the 1940s, and a trio of Americans discovering the rich beauty of Scotland on a mission to return to their family’s good graces: this book is everything you could want in an easy, fun read about a woman who awakens to the truly important things in life against a compelling backdrop of international conflict.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling: Ok, ok, she’s not Scottish and the book doesn’t take place in true Scotland, but let’s be real: there’s no way Hogwart’s is anywhere but Scotland. Plus, with so many amazing Potter-related landmarks around Edinburgh, we’re counting it. When was the last time you read The Philosopher’s Stone (because you’ve obviously read it before, of course!)? Chances are, it’s been too long. With Harry’s birthday happening just last week and back-to-school season about to be in full swing, this is the perfect time to break out your worn-in copy and dive into the world of Hogwart’s adventures.
  • Letters From Skye, Jessica Brockmole: A fascinating read split between the rural isles of Scotland at the turn of the century and England during WWII, Letters will make you want to escape the bustle of the city for a weekend away in the Highlands to immerse yourself in the 1900s world of Elspeth Dunn and her daughter.

Happy Book Lovers Day! Now head to your favourite local bookstore (we love The Edinburgh Book Shop in Bruntsfield for new reads and Armchair Books in West Port for vintage finds) and get stuck in!

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