8 brilliant Scottish books

18 September 2014

The day of the referendum is here and we've picked out some of our favourite Scottish books.

Red Dust Road

Inheritance is about much more than genes...

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. 

Meeting the English

'Literary Giant seeks young man to push bathchair.'

Poet Kate Clanchy's first novel follows Struan Robertson as he leaves his hometown of Cuik, Scotland, for Hampstead, where he cares for the aforementioned literary giant, Philip Prys. This is a bright book about dark subjects: a tale about kindness and its limits, told with love. Spiked with witty dialogue, and jostling with gleeful, zesty characters, it is a glorious debut novel from an acclaimed writer of poetry, non-fiction, and short stories.


The roots of Shetland

Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland and this, her third collection of poetry, is strongly rooted there. Named for the strong fibres that a mussel uses to anchor itself to the seabed, Byssus is a rich collection which is first and foremost about home, and what it takes to find and forge one. Her language is strongly rooted in the common names she finds in the sea, shore and moor of her adopted Shetland and the book builds to a profound consideration of who and what we are within the landscape.

The Overhaul

Costa prize winner

The Overhaul continues Kathleen Jamie’s lyric enquiry into the aspects of the world our rushing lives elide, and even threaten. Whether she is addressing birds or rivers, or the need to accept loss, or sometimes, the desire to escape our own lives, her work is earthy and rigorous, her language at once elemental and tender.


Offensive? Or groundbreaking?

Irvine Welsh was born in Edinburgh. He grew up in the tenement homes of Leith, the prefabs in West Pilton and the maisonettes in Muirhouse and left school at sixteen. He moved to London in the seventies but returned home and, inspired by the nineties rave scene and the people he met, he wrote Trainspotting. The book was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993 but didn't make the shortlist after it 'offended the sensibilities of two female judges'.


And a few classics that can't be forgotten:

Waverley Robert Burns poetry Macbeth

What is your favourite Scottish book?