6 of the Best Books set in Scotland

Scotland has seen a resurgence in tourism and literary interest due to books such as Outlander and Crime fiction novels. Scotland has a rich history in the literacy world from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Scotland can lend itself to the supernatural or those bleak moments in human existence – there are no limitations to the inspiration that can be gleamed from Scotland and its beautiful culture.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Written in the 90’s, this franchise has been brought alive on screen and has seen an increase in tourism due to the Outlander effect. Outlander tells the tale of a young woman, Claire who travels back in time to Jacobite Scotland and falls in love with the dashing James Fraser, scottish warrior.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2016, this desperate tale of a man accused of a triple murder examines the frailty and bleakness of human nature in a peninsula in Applecross, Scotland. This was a 5 star read and was truly groundbreaking.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

The bestselling novel by Irvine Welsh that provided the inspiration for Danny Boyle’s hit film Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

The Wasp Factory is a work of horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all. A novel of extraordinary originality, imagination and comic ferocity.

The Black House by Peter May

A brutal killing takes place on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland: a land of harsh beauty and inhabitants of deep-rooted faith.

Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate. For Lewis-born Macleod, the case represents a journey both home and into his past.

Something lurks within the close-knit island community. Something sinister.

As Fin investigates, old skeletons begin to surface, and soon he, the hunter, becomes the hunted.

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle… 

Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.

21 thoughts on “6 of the Best Books set in Scotland

  1. One of my favorites is “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole. But I don’t think that’s a book you’d read since it is historical, women’s fiction (with some romance). Also, “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” by Rachel Joyce takes place in Scotland, as do parts of “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” by Paul Torday.

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  2. I love Scotland. Of all the places I’ve been, I would totally live in Edinburgh! Anyways, I love Outlander, of course, but haven’t read any of the others. Definitely plan to look into them! Also, if you like this setting and middle grade books, I’d also recommend Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts.

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  3. I really love Alexander McCall Smiths Scotland Street and Isabella Delhousie series – they are much more of a lighter read but I think really captures what it is like living in Edinburgh – at least from an outsiders point of view. Really love the Black House – I read it while travelling in the Isle of Lewis where it was set and he captures the landscape and energy of the island so well!

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  4. I’m looking on in envy from my small corner of Wales, We have some great authors here too but they never get anywhere near the level of the Scottish writers. His Bloody Project is a fantastic book – I reall wasn’t sure if it was a true story until about half way through

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