May 2024
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Authors and books that will make you love Scotland…

January… February…what about sitting by the fireside with a good book when it’s freezing cold outside and the wind is howling ;-).  Add to that a cup of tea, coffee or chocolate and you’ll begin to like winter! Unless, of course, you prefer to go out and face the elements. I must admit that when travelling in Scotland, even in winter, we rarely hesitate… teatime won’t come until after the walk! But, if you’ve just braved a fierce demonstration of the Scottish elements you won’t find a better reward than a Scottish teatime!

So, now, as February is just around the corner, which books am I going to share with you for our fireside reading? Given the number of books tightly packed on the shelves of my library and yearning to conjure up the magic of Scotland, it’s going to be difficult to choose. And, as everybody knows, choosing is always frustrating!

In “A Selection of Scottish Authors & Books for Christmas 2021”,  as mentioned by Janice at the end of her New Year post, I’ve already introduced you to a number of great Scottish authors and fascinating books about Scotland. There are many other pages dedicated to books on Scotiana and there will be plenty more to come;-).

ronald searle cat and books drawing

One of many Ronald Searle’s cat drawings

Favourite books by favourite authors

Kenneth White

Since the very sad day when Kenneth White passed away, on 11 August 2023, I’ve never stopped reading and re-reading his books. So, he will be the first author to appear on my list. Himself an insatiable reader and indefatigable traveller, he introduces his readers to countless authors from all over the world and all times.  He was a great walker and a great traveller. Each walk, each travel gave him endless opportunities to discover the world, to meet people, to observe nature, to meditate and finally to write. His wanderings, being the fruit of anticipation and spontaneity, were nourished by his readings and his writings reflect a deep sense of place wherever it may be. Kenneth White opens up new horizons… his writings transcend borders!

I’m preparing the second part of  A Geopoetical Legacy to the World, but writing a page like that, about such a great man and author, takes time and a lot of thought. The modest tribute of a reader to an immense talent…



Kenneth White’s  “way-books” or “staybooks”, as he used to call respectively his travel books and those he wrote at home, are truly fascinating. When you finish one of his travel stories, you really feel like you have visited the country he describes and you’ll never forget it. Remember, it was years ago, in 2015 to be more exact… we had loved Kenneth White’s Blue Road so much that Janice, Jean-Claude and I decided to follow in his footsteps. Ten accounts of our  adventures in Quebec have been published then on Scotiana. Can you imagine our delight when we recently discovered that Kenneth White had put links to these episodes on his website…

Kenneth White’s poetry and essays are just as interesting as his waybooks but they are not as easy to read.  He wrote many of them throughout his life, in English as well as in French. I’m still not very familiar with them. Mais chaque chose en son temps  ;-).

‘If White is based geographically in France, he says he really lives in ‘a Scottish outpost’ on the North coast of Brittany. From this vantage point, he has produced his latest work, an extraordinary hybrid of intimate autobiography, social commentary, live literary theory, geopoetic fieldwork, oceanic poem, quiet cultural manifesto, all rolled into one.” (House of Tides backcover)

I’ve just finished re-reading, and with renewed delight, Le rôdeur des confins (2006),  translated into English under the title of  Across the Territories (2024) and La Maison des Marées a book (‘staybook’) published in 2005.  He had written it in his ‘Atlantic studio’, in Gwenved, his house which is situated on the North Coast of Brittany.  This book had been published in English in 2000 under the title of House of Tides. Now, I’m beginning to read La Carte de Guido (2011).  Its  English edition, Guido’s Map: A European Pilgrimage was edited by the Aberdeen University Press in 2015 and I ordered the book there.

Kenneth White Across the Territories

‘The thing is to get out on the road with him.’

‘An increased sensation of life, a vastly enlarged experience of the world.’

“An initial mapping of this book might say that it goes from the Orkneys to Polynesia via Scandinavia and the Baltic regions, the Iberian peninsula, and North America. But it’s impossible to sum up the diverse pathways and the multiple dimensions of Kenneth White’s method in that highly original type of travel-writing he calls the waybook.

The thing is to get out on the road with him. Along with, for example, three Quebeckers from the St Lawrence river-country through the forest and along the coast of Maine, or with an eleven-century Jewish poet across Spain. Other chapters will take the reader to the haunts of migrating cranes in Sweden, the misty margins of Portugal, across the plains of Poland, into the Atlas mountains, or along the coast of Norway into the Lofotens. The book ends on the atoll of Rangiroa in the Tuamotu archipelago, on a shore of dark jagged coral, wild bird cries and empty sea.

The result of the whole complex process is an acutely increased sensation of life, a vastly enlarged experience of the world.”

(From the back cover of Across the Territories by Kenneth White)

Let me share with you some irresistible extracts from Across the Territories:

“Schlomo” 😉

One of my favourite chapters in Across the Territories is ‘The Big Andalusian Trip’. I really enjoyed the whole book but this chapter particularly. The creation of ‘Schlomo’, the spirit of the statue, appears to me as a stroke of genius. The writer’s wanderings through the city, accompanied by his erudite friend Schlomo who follows him, with his commentaries, to cafés, restaurants and hotels, are highly amusing and instructive ;-).

“The Arabs called Malaga an ‘earthly paradise’. It’s hard to subscribe to that today. When I first settled into my room, what I was most aware of was noise. There were palm trees interspersed with pines down there on the Paseo del Parque, but the din of traffic, especially innumerable buzz-bikes, and the strident whines of police-cars and ambulances, made it seem like a machine-mad jungle rather than anything remotely resembling a paradise. The same goes for the rest of the city. (..)

That said, there are flowers and fruit-trees everywhere: jasmin, oranges, lemons… So that even across the dust and noise you do get an occasional whiff or glimpse of a heavenly garden. The light too is golden, golden and warm.”

Statue of Salómon Ibn Gabirol named Al Malagui- Malaga

“It was when walking one afternoon in the area between the Customs House and the Facultad de Filosofia y Letras that I met Salomon. There he was, in stone, looking on I thought somewhat sadly as two Malaga workmen played football (futbol) with a lemon.

As an intellectually minded Jew born in Malaga (ha-malaqui, ‘the man from Malaga’, was how he liked to style himself), raised in eleventh-century Andalusia, Salomon Ibn Gabirol was a Hebrew poet and an Arab philosopher, knowing by heart the Old Testament and carrying in his head the body of Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus) as translated by the Arabs.

(..) His poetry was basically biblical-synagogal, but he incorporated into it also Arab elements: the ancient poetry of the desert, as well as the more easygoing pleasant verse of Baghdad. In one of his poems, he has this: ‘I have written of Autumn with the colour of its rains.’ It was all this made me think Salomon would be an ideal travel-companion for a while in Andalusia.

‘Salomon’, I said to him one evening beside his statue, ‘how would you like to come with me on a little trip around the country?’

‘I would love it immensely’, he said, jumping down from his pedestal. ‘I’ve been getting ankylosed up here.’

‘Once down on the street, he added: ‘Call me Schlomo.’ “

The ghost of Rainer Maria Rilke…

‘Who’s that?’, said Schlomo.
We were sitting in the lounge of the old Reina Victoria hotel in Ronda, where I’d ordered us a couple of finos and a bowl of almonds.
‘Who, where?’, I said.
Schlomo indicated discreetly with his chin a dark corner of the room.

At first I saw nothing. Then something materialised. A man with a wispy beard, a drooping moustache and big wide-open eyes, his whole manner at once frail, stiff and vague.

‘What’s he saying?’, asked Schlomo.

The man in fact was murmuring to himself in German, with an Austrian accent: ‘Prague, Munich, Russia… Monasteries, pilgrimages… Paris… Now this place built over an abyss, and the silent sierra… Alone, like a mineral.’

I recognized Rainer Maria Rilke, who was living at the Reina Victoria at Ronda in the Autumn of 1912, and told Schlomo so, saying how much I admired his poetry, especially the Duino Elegies. But I did not care to disturb him and pretty soon he disappeared, leaving only the perfume of a rose. (..)

George Mackay Brown & Iain Crichton Smith

In literary reference books and anthologies, George Mackay Brown and Iain Crichton Smith are often reviewed together. This is the case in  Alan Bold’s Modern Scottish Literature (Longman 1983), one of my favourite books about Scottish literature.

This book is the first comprehensive account of the whole range of twentieth-century Scottish literature. The field to be covered is full, rich and varied; and Alan Bold, himself a poet, a critic and a Scot, is well qualified to do it justice (..)

Mr Bold has cast his net wide. He includes not only the established names – J.M. Barrie, James Bridie, George Mackay Brown, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid, Compton Mackenzie, Edwin Muir, Neil Munro and Muriel Spark among them – but also writers of popular bestsellers from John Buchan and Eric Linklater to the historical and romantic novelists of today like Jean Plaidy, Jane Duncan and Dorothy Dunnett, whose work is much read and has its own contribution to make to the total picture, and yet has seldom been given serious critical scrutiny (..). (From the back cover of Modern Scottish Literature)

Poets’ Pub Alexander Moffat Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Just have a look at Alexander Moffat’s painting called Poets’ Pub. George Mackay Brown and Iain Crichton are represented sitting next to Hugh MacDiarmid, the central character.  Alan Bold, whom I’ve just mentioned, appears in the foreground. He is the man with a beard, wearing a black hat.

How is it that we missed such a great painting when we visited the Scottish National Portrait Gallery at the end of our last journey in Scotland, in January 2020!  We’ll have to revisit this gallery one day when we don’t have a plane to catch!

This big oil on canvas measures no less than  183 x 244 cm. Hugh MacDiarmid was already dead when the painting was created. Today, all of the authors featuring on it have passed on.

On the Gallery’s website one can read:

“This monumental painting depicts an imaginary gathering of some of Scotland’s most celebrated poets of the twentieth century, grouped around the great national poet of modern Scotland, Hugh MacDiarmid (1892–1978). The setting is an amalgam of famous Edinburgh literary pubs: the Café Royal, Milne’s Bar and the Abbotsford.

From left to right we see Norman MacCaig, Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley MacLean, Iain Crichton Smith, George Mackay Brown, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Edwin Morgan and Robert Garioch. In the foreground is Alan Bold and, on the steps behind, the art critic, John Tonge. At the centre of the composition, wearing a blue suit with a red scarf, is the formidable figure of Hugh MacDiarmid (the pseudonym for Christopher Grieve), arguably the greatest single influence on Scottish culture in the twentieth century.”

George Mackay Brown

I’m a big fan of George Mackay Brown and I never miss the opportunity to celebrate him. I’ve devoted several pages on Scotiana to the great poet and storyteller, the last one being a celebration of the poet’s birthday centenary.

Winter Tales George Mackay Brown Flamingo 1996

‘calendar tales’

It was in winter that the islanders gathered round the hearth fire to listen to the stories. (..)

Going over tales I’ve written during the last decade or so, I was not too surprised to see that many of them are calendar tales, that yield their best treasure in midwinter when the barns are full.

(Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown – 1st published in 1995)

GMB was a great storyteller and I’ve read a number of his short stories and ghost stories. I often mention the book Winter Tales but there are many other ones.

The front cover of Winter Tales is particularly suggesting with its fireside picture. My favourite stories in this book are ‘The Paraffin Lamp’ and  ‘The Children’s Feast’. More winter and Christmas tales are to be found in other GMB’s books of short stories .

George Mackay Brown is arguably the most subtle writer of short stories Scotland has produced. In his stories – collected in A Calendar of Love (1976, A Time to Keep (1969), Hawkfall(1974), The Sun’s Net(1976) – he creates a timeless mood as he mixes observations of modern Orkney with historical incidents derived from the Orkneyinga Saga and images suggested by the archaeological evidence of prehistoric life in Orkney. Orkney is Brown’s world.

(Modern Scottish Literature – Alan Bold – chapter 37 ‘George Mackay Brown: Elemental Rhythms’)

To the collections of short stories mentioned by Alan Bold one can add today:

GMB has often been called the Orkney Bard. He was a great poet. ‘A New Child’ is one of my favourite poems, wonderfully read and staged on the video below :

The text of the poem is quoted in the Birlinn page “Poem of the Week” (on a page devoted to Alexander McCall Smith’s A Gathering: A Personal Anthology of Scottish Poem.)

GMB wrote six novels and the first one, Greenvoe, was published in 1972.  I haven’t read it yet but it’s on the top of my reading list.

Greenvoe – George Mackay Brown – The Hogarth Press 1972

‘George Mackay Brown’s first novel is composed, like a mosaic, of the events of one summer week in an isolated Orkney community. Greenvoe village has existed unchanged for generations, in its beautiful setting of sand and sea and sky. The last week of its life is unfolded, day after day, until the long-drawn-out nightmare that is Saturday. In the little huddle of houses beside the sea live the religious fisherman and the bottle-hitting fisherman and their wives; the minister and his mother; the general merchant; the beachcomber; the local historian-fisherman-Marxist; the henwife and her sailor brother Ben; the publican; the village good-time girl; the laird; the boatman and the school-reacher – these are the characters who are a part of the ballad of Greenvoe until it is broken by the ciphers and cold ruthless prose of ‘progress’. But the music endures, with roots and skulls and very ancient agricultural rituals, deep in the heart of the island.’

‘Greenvoe is the work of a writer who has made a name for himself as a story-teller and a poet. Both sides of his talent operate here with full power. The novel is a fine mingling of ‘words and harp-strokes’.  (From the back cover of the 1st edition of Greenvoe)’

This story resonates particularly well in today’s context with its ecological and social fights and the numerous demonstrations to defend the survival of the planet against the interests of multinationals.

The story of Greenvoe reminds me of the excellent film ‘Local Hero‘.

A great film which takes place in Scotland.

Iain Crichton Smith 

Iain Crichton Smith is the author who is at the origin of our first travel to Scotland in 2000… I’m a big fan of this great Scottish writer.

Iain Crichton Smith Consider the Lilies Arnold Wheaton Pergamon Press Ltd 1984

Iain Crichton Smith Consider the Lilies Arnold Wheaton Pergamon Press Ltd 1984

From its first page, I fell in love with Iain Crichton Smith’s Consider the Lilies. I quickly translated the novel into French for my family (except the gaelic passages!). It was not long before we decided to leave for Scotland in search of the ruins of the evicted village of Rossal which is situated  in Sutherland, not far from Bettyhill, in the north of Scotland. That was the beginning of a pilgrimage which has never ended since…

‘When she rose in the morning the house at first seemed to be the same. The sun shone through the curtains of her window. On the floor it turned to minute particles like water dancing. Nevertheless, she felt uneasy …

What had the girl said? Something about the ‘burning of houses’. They just couldn’t put people out of their houses, and then burn the houses down. No one had ever heard of that before. Not in the country…’

In this modern classic, from one of Scotland’s greatest writers, CONSIDER THE LILIES captures the thoughts and memories of an old woman who has lived all her life within the narrow confines of her community during one of the cruellest episodes of Scottish history – the Highland Clearances.

Consider the Lilies ICS 2018 50th edition Orion Publishing 2018


I’m particularly fond of  Iain Crichton Smith’s short stories.  My favourite ones are those featuring the character of Murdo…

I will devote a post to Scottish short stories and especially those written by George Mackay Brown and Iain Crichton Smith.

My challenge for the year 2024: to read one short story a day! Hum… qui vivra verra 😉

After the Dance Iain Crichton Smith Polygon 2017

Souvenirs, souvenirs…

I remember how during one of our trips to the Outer Hebrides we stopped at a bookshop in Stornoway on the island of Lewis, not far from the native place of Iain Crichton Smith. I asked a young saleswoman where I could find Iain Crichton Smith’s books. She gave me a puzzled look : ‘Whose books?’… I wrote the name on a piece of paper and she immediately answered me with a smile. ‘Oh yes ! Iain Crichton Smith…look, his books are on the bookshelf over there, by the window’ and she kindly accompanied me to the said place.  That day I bought Iain Crichton Smith’s two big volumes of short stories: The Red Door (The Complete English Stories 1949-76) and The Black Halo (The Complete English Stories 1977-98) … both books were published in 2001. It says on the cover ‘English Stories’, that’s because a number of books by Iain Crichton Smith (aka Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn) were written in Gaelic.

Since my visit at the Stornoway bookshop, I’ve learned to pronounce the name ‘Iain Crichton Smith’ correctly 😉

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander Mc Call Smith – Photo A.Graham

Now, if you want to read entertaining stories full of humour and suspense choose one of the many books written by Alexander McCall Smith… Personally, I’ve chosen  44 Scotland Street the first of the 17 volumes making up the famous ’44 Scotland Street’ series.

McCall Smith is a prolific author of fiction, with several series to his credit. He writes at a prodigious rate: “Even when travelling, he never loses a day, turning out between 2,000 and 3,000 words [a day] – but more like 5,000 words when at home in Edinburgh. His usual rate is 1,000 words an hour”. He has gained the most fame for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe and set in Gaborone, Botswana. The first novel was published in 1998. By 2009, the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series had sold more than 20 million copies in English editions. [24 volumes]

Alexander McCall Smith 44 Scotland Street front cover Polygon 2005

I have ve a number of books by Alexander McCall Smith in my library but most of them are still in boxes, waiting for our new library to be finished. For my last birthday Janice offered me The Enigma of Garlic , the volume 16 of the very popular “44 Scotland Street series”, published in 2022… since then, The Stellar Debut of Galactica MacFee (volume 17) has been published in november 2023... I had read the first volumes of the series a long time ago and so when I received The Enigma of Garlic I decided  to re-read the first volumes of the ’44 Scotland Street series’, downloading each volume of the series one by one as I read them. So far I’ve downloaded the first three volumes; 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales and Love over Scotland. The next one will be The World According to Bertie.

On one of our visits to Edinburgh we were looking for Scotland Street and did  found it but two local residents saw fit to tell us ‘the street has no number 44’ 😉

Nan Shepherd

Winter light on the Cairngorms © 2021 Scotiana

It was a true enchantment to see the magnificent landscape of the Cairngorms unfold while we were driving past in the area, on our way to the Highland Wildlife Park. We had rented a room at Coylumbridge Hotel, near Aviemore. Snow had fallen during the night, giving a touch of magic to the mountains. It was exactly the kind of weather we’d dreamed of for Christmas and the New Year’s Eve.

Such a great place needed a great poet to describe it and one couldn’t think of a better one than Nan Shepherd. Her writing is wonderful prose poetry.


Scotland paid a great tribute to Nan Shepherd by having a lovely portrait of her featuring on one of its bank notes, together with quotes from her writing.

Royal Bank of Scotland £5 note

From May 2020 the Royal Bank of Scotland adopted a new series of banknotes, made of polymer. The £5 note shows poet Nan Shepherd on the obverse accompanied by a quote from her book The Living Mountain, and the Cairngorms in the background. The reverse displays two mackerel and an excerpt from the Scottish Gaelic poem ‘The Choice’ by Sorley MacLean.

In a very old book from my library…

Frederick, Warne & Co edition


Loch Coruisk – Isle of Skye © 2007 Scotiana

With its 512 gold tipped pages, its color plates and no less than 100 engravings Picturesque Scotland In Lay and Legend Song and Story by Francis Watt, edited by Frederick Warne in 1889, is an enchanting book. Today I will focus on two pages describing Loch Coruisk. This loch, situated near Elgol, on the Isle of Skye, is one of the most fascinating and solitary places we’ve visited in Scotland.

‘There are two ways of reaching Loch Coruisk – the one from the sea, by Loch Scavaig; the other from Portree, by way of Sligachan.

The former has the advantage of being, on the whole, the easier mode of approach, especially for those who approach Skye from Strome Ferry. Its has moreover, the added interest of enabling the visitor to land just where tradition makes the Bruce land, as all readers of Scott’s “Lord of the Isles” will remember.’

One must remember that, in 1889, Skye was still an island. The 500 m bridge which links the villages of Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland and Kyleakin on the island’s east coast was opened on 16 October 1995.

Boat trip Elgol- Coruisk – Isle of Skye © 2007 Scotiana

(..) If you should chance to have made Portree your port in coming to the island, then make your way by mail coach to Sligachan, and, sleeping there, start the next morning early and walk to the loch. It is a glorious mountain walk of nine miles (only remember that Skye miles ar not always of the shortest), your way lying first along a comparatively good path, then along something more like a sheep-grack, until – just when you are nearing the loch – you ascend the shoulder of Druim-na-Rahm, one of the Cuchullin range [The Cuillin], and getting your first view of Coruisk. You have to pick your way down the other side of the hill somewhat warily, but, after all, there is no serious danger in the descent. (..)

Arrived at the loch, you will own to yourself that is is one of the most awfully still places you have ever seen. The little lake (for it is only about five miles in circumference), itself so quiet, has its quietness answered in the dread silence of Ben Blaavin [Blaven] and the whole amphitheatre of mountains encircling it. No sun-glint ever reaches into this recess to make its play upon the waters, and not many days in the year will you, as you stand by its margin, see the sunshine lighting up even the top of yon mountain-peaks. For on most days even of the summer time the mists hang upon the mountains, and, once down in this awfull hollow, you feel that the world’s brightness has left the place to loneliness and to you.” (..)

We went there by boat one day when the weather was very cloudy, wintry but not so bad finally. A typically Scottish changing weather. We embarked on the Bella Jane.The view from the boat is truly spectacular.

Cairn Loch Coruisk Skye © 2007 Scotiana

Rarely human eye has known
A scene so stern as that dread lake,
With its dark ledge of barren stone…”

(Walter Scott – “Lord of the Isles” – 1815)

Loch Coruisk is reputed to be the home of a kelpie or water horse, a shape-shifting creature that can assume human form. We didn’t see any kelpie or some such creature but perhaps we had been well advised not to miss our boat! We wouldn’t have liked to spend the night there. However we saw many seals, cormorans, oystercatchers and even two deers in the distance.

Loch Scavaig Skye seals © 2007 Scotiana


New books just arrived…

Just arrived and yet not read! I’m looking forward to reading these very attractive books.

I’ve just received  Windswept by Annie Worsley and Wild History Journeys into Lost Scotland by James Crawford

With its a colourful attractive front cover, Windswept, published in August 2023,  did appeal to me because it’s about wildlife and nature in the Highlands !!!

The story of Annie Worsley reminds me of the wonderful adventures of Mike Tomkies and Moobli  who lived in ‘Wildernesse’, a remote cottage on the shores of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands 😉


Windswept by Annie Worsley – William Collins 2023

Windswept is a wonderful work, prose painted in bold, bright strokes like a Scottish Colourist’s canvas’ ROBERT MACFARLANE

‘An instant classic of British nature-writing’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

A few years ago, Annie Worsley traded a busy life in academia to take on a small-holding or croft on the west coast of Scotland. It is a land ruled by great elemental forces – light, wind and water – that hold sway over how land forms, where the sea sits and what grows. Windswept explores what it means to live in this rugged, awe-inspiring place of unquenchable spirit and wild weather.

Walk with Annie as she lays quartz stones in the river to reflect the moonlight and attract salmon, as she watches otters play tag across the beach, as she is awoken by the feral bellowing of stags. Travel back in time to the epic story of how Scotland’s valleys were carved by glaciers, rivers scythed paths through mountains, how the earliest people found a way of life in the Highlands – and how she then found a home there millennia later.

With stunning imagery and lyrical prose, Windswept evokes a place where nature reigns supreme and humans must learn to adapt. It is her paean to a beloved place, one richer with colour, sound and life than perhaps anywhere else in the UK.

Wild History Journeys into Lost Scotland by James Crawford was published in May 2023. Its cover is quite appealing with its lovely pink beach and the mysterious stone monument.

From the presenter of BBC One’s Scotland from the Sky

You scramble up over the dunes of an isolated beach. You climb to the summit of a lonely hill. You pick your way through the eerie hush of a forest. And then you find them. The traces of the past. Perhaps they are marked by a tiny symbol on your map, perhaps not. There are no plaques to explain their fading presence before you, nothing to account for what they once were – who made them, lived in them or abandoned them. Now they are merged with the landscape. They are being reclaimed by nature. They are wild history.

In this book acclaimed author and presenter James Crawford introduces many such places all over the country, from the ruins of prehistoric forts and ancient, arcane burial sites, to abandoned bothies and boathouses, and the derelict traces of old, faded industry.

The book contains many beautiful pictures and I’ve already put a number of bookmarks in it. A very useful map is provided at the beginning of the book.

I already have several books by James Crawford in my library : Scotland’s Landscapes is one of them and it’s a magnificent book too…

James Crawford is also the co-author of Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in 25 Buildingswith Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat, James Robertson and Kathleen Jamie.

JAMES CRAWFORD is a writer and broadcaster. Born in the Shetlands in 1978, he studied History and Philosophy of Law at the University of Edinburgh, winning the Lord President Cooper Memorial Prize. He has been a literary agent and a publisher, and for over a decade worked for and researched Scotland’s National Collection of architecture and archaeology. His first major work of non-fiction,Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History’s Greatest Buildings was shortlisted for best non-fiction book at the Saltire Literary Awards. He has scripted and presented three series of the landmark BBC One documentary ‘Scotland from the Sky’, and is the author of nine other books including ‘The Edge of the Plain: How Borders Make and Break Our World‘ and ‘Wild History: Journeys Into Lost Scotland‘. In 2019 he was named as the Archive and Records Association’s first-ever ‘Explore Your Archives’ Ambassador. He lives in Edinburgh.

The last book I’ve discovered recently is Scottish Literature an introduction by Alan Riach. To begin with, I’ve downloaded it on my kindle. But as it is intended to be opened recurrently it would be preferable to have its paper version. I’ve put it on my wishing list 😉

“What do we mean by ‘Scottish literature’?

Why does it matter?

How do we engage with it?

Bringing infectious enthusiasm and a lifetime’s experience to bear on this multi-faceted literary nation, Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, sets out to guide you through the varied and ever-evolving landscape of Scottish literature.

A comprehensive and extensive work designed not only for scholars but also for the generally curious, Scottish Literature: an introduction tells the tale of Scotland’s many voices across the ages, from Celtic pre-history to modern mass media. Forsaking critical jargon, Riach journeys chronologically through individual works and writers, both the famed and the forgotten, alongside broad overviews of cultural contexts which connect texts to their own times. Expanding the restrictive canon of days gone by, Riach also sets down a new core body of ‘Scottish Literature’: key writers and works in English, Scots, and Gaelic.

Ranging across time and genre, Scottish Literature: an introduction invites you to hear Scotland through her own words.”

(From the back cover of Scottish Literature)

Oups ! It’s time to put an end to this post, maybe the longest one I wrote on Scotiana!  But wasn’t the subject worth it?

I hope you will enjoy it !

Á bientôt. Mairiuna

By the way and as a kind of wee bonus, let’s leave the very last word to Val McDermid,  a very popular Scottish writer of crime novels. Many of her books have been translated into French and I’ve also put them on my reading list. This tour of her vast library is very fun, quite useful and in a word great. Many thanks to her!


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