Glasgow’s annual Aye Write! festival has got us all talking about Scottish literature again this year. With guest appearances from the country’s most talented writers, talks from politicians, illustration workshops and even the new strand ‘Aye Con’ for comic lovers, there is something for everyone.
The likes of Irvine Welsh, Limmy and Christopher Brookmyre will all be there promoting their latest books alongside their contemporaries. But if you’re not done there and find yourself looking for some more Scottish books to get your teeth into, we’ve got you covered. From poetry to photography, it’s all here:
Morvern Callar (1995) by Alan Warner
Scotland is known for its love of the mystery and crime genre. If you are too, then Warner’s ‘Morvern Callar’ ticks all the boxes: thrilling, eerie and haunting. The story follows the girl of its namesake after the mysterious death of her boyfriend. In her grief, Morvern leaves her job as an employee in a local supermarket in a port town in the West of Scotland to explore Europe and the Mediterranean where she leads an extravagant and reckless lifestyle. Warner adds a cinematic element to his story as Morvern’s Walkman playlist is written into the novel.
Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) by Alisdair Gray
If short stories are more your thing, Alisdair Gray’s ‘Lanark,’ is a great Scottish collection to get stuck into. Written over 30 years, Gray portrays Glasgow in these four stories through both realism and dystopian narratives to give a diverse depiction of his hometown. This collection is a good one to dip in to and although it’s a chunky book (coming in at 573 pages) it is definitely worth a read. Lanark has also been adapted to theatre, so make sure to check it out onstage.
The Beatles: On The Road 1964-1966 (2013) by Harry Benson
Harry Benson’s ‘The Beatles: On the Road’ is just the book for photography and music lovers. The Glaswegian photographer documents one of the most popular bands of the 20th century during their inaugural American tour in this beautiful compilation. Benson captures some iconic Beatles moments of the sixties, a time synonymous with the term “Beatlemania”, in luminous black and white film.
Consider the Lilies (1986) by Iain Crichton Smith
‘Consider the Lilies’ is a Scottish modern classic. If you haven’t read it before, then the time is now! Smith harkens back to the Highland Clearances of Scotland between 1790 and 1850, reflecting on the eviction of crofters from their homes through the eyes of an old woman who has lived in the Highlands all her life. Smith’s take on the Highland Clearances is not only a fantastic novel, but an interesting historical account too.
The Elfin Pedlar and Tales Told by the Pixie Pool (1923) by Helen Adam
If you’ve exhausted Rabbie Burns and want some more traditional Scottish poetry, ‘The Elfin Pedlar and Tales Told by the Pixie Pool’ is a great introductory book for beginners. Adam published this collection at only 14 years old. These poems have a gothic, Victorian feel as she mostly describes fairies in typical Scottish farmland settings in light verse. They are the zeitgeist of Scotland in the early 1900s and were widely performed to orchestra music at the time.
A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
No Scottish list would be complete without mentioning the country’s most famous detective: Sherlock Holmes. These books are a must read for any fans of the BBC1 adaptation who haven’t gotten around to them yet. ‘A Study in Scarlet’ is first in the Sherlock Holmes canon by Edinburgh born Arthur Conan Doyle. First published in The Strand in late 1887 and subsequently spanning 40 years of his writing career, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories will keep you occupied right up until next year’s Aye Write!