Literary Tourism: Scotland

In this quiet novel (sometimes categorized as a romance, but don't let that scare you off), five individuals, each dealing with their own painful personal tragedy, are unexpectedly brought together during the Christmas season in the Scottish countryside—though they've decided not to celebrate the holiday; it's too painful this year. But redemption is found in surprising places, and in the midst of so much loss, love and redemption emerge.This book was a delightful surprise; I enjoyed it so much.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Universal Buy Button
Buy from Bookshop
Honeyman's at times painful but ultimately feel-good debut has already been nominated for several notable awards: the 2018 Bailey’s Prize Longlist, 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award, 2018 RUSA Women’s Fiction Shortlist. I really enjoyed this story about an isolated young woman who is drawn into the world again, decidedly against her will, in the spirit of A Man Called Ove. Take note: the reviews are mixed, but it's got great book club potential. And Reese Witherspoon already owns the film rights.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Bookshop
I spent part of December 2018 in Wigtown, Scotland—in Bythell's own bookshop—so of course I had to read this before I went. This is Bythell's actual year-long diary of his days at the helm of The Bookshop, complete with daily customer count and till totals. But the real focus is on the customers: Bythell documents the unusual, eccentric, and often irksome behavior he witnesses every day in his shop. As for my own visit, you can read about it here.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble
This series is about the neighbors who live at the eponymous address in Edinburgh's New Town, and was originally written as a weekday column in The Scotsman over a six-month period. The newspaper asked for stories short enough for commuters to read on the train, which is why the novel consists of one hundred short chapters. This was delightful travel reading. 
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
The "lost queen" is Languoreth, a real sixth century Scottish queen whose twin brother inspired the legend of Merlin. Ancient Scotland is the perfect setting for a fantasy novel. Ancient magic, complex politics, and clashing religions all conspire to create an intriguing story. Reminiscent of the Arthurian legends, this book is perfect for fans of Phillippa Gregory.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
Catriona McPherson's bookish mystery is set in a Wigtown bookstore. When former librarian Jude needs an escape from her life, she returns to the small village she visited the previous summer and becomes assistant to a kind bookshop owner. She moves into the gravedigger’s cottage and discovers the previous inhabitant’s marginalia, which might be connected to an old mystery that not everyone wants to solve.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Bookshop
The second book in Cole’s Reluctant Royals series follows NYC socialite Portia to Edinburgh where she’s about to apprentice with grumpy swordmaker Tavish. She’s ready for a fresh start but things don’t go smoothly—and that’s before she accidentally discovers Tav is the secret son of a duke. According to the MMD team members who put this on my radar, Tav and Portia’s dynamic makes for some laugh out loud moments with chemistry aplenty. There’s great ADHD rep, plus Cole shines at depicting friendship in this contemporary romance series. You don’t have to read the first book about Portia’s best friend Ledi first—this stands alone just fine—but you’ll probably want to. (Open door.)
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
Detective Inspector Fin Macleod heads to the Isle of Lewis to investigate a brutal murder. It’s the tiny isolated island in the Outer Hebrides where he grew up and couldn’t wait to flee. Everyone there knows everyone’s business but something sinister lurks and the investigation brings Fin dangerously closer to the past he tried to leave behind. My friend Mel read this while we were in Scotland and reports it’s a dark police procedural with major content warnings but the detective is so compelling that she tore through the trilogy.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
Talk about big fat books: This time-travel romance series has 9 books to date, totaling 9,381 pages, 300+ hours on Audible, and incorporating time travel, the Scottish highlands, romance, drama, and history. As she tells it, Gabaldon intended to write a realistic historical novel, but a modern woman kept inserting herself into the story! She decided to leave her on the page for the time being—it's hard enough to write a novel, she'd edit her out later—but would YOU edit out Claire? I didn't think so. You could happily lose yourself in this series (but heads up for racy content and graphic torture scenes).
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Libro.fm
Buy from Bookshop
Schwab’s middle grade ghost story is a fun, spooky tale. Cass’s ghost-hunting parents might be filming the next season of their TV show in Edinburgh but Cass can really see ghosts, including her best friend Jacob. Once there she befriends a girl who not only sees ghosts but also helps send them permanently beyond the Veil. There’s a sinister presence haunting the city and no good can come from allowing it to stay. Cass is a part of this fight, whether she wants to or not.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
From the publisher: "'Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life!” So asserts Jean Brodie, a magnetic, dubious, and sometimes comic teacher at the conservative Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh. Brodie selects six favorite pupils to mold—and she doesn’t stop with just their intellectual lives. She has a plan for them all, including how they will live, whom they will love, and what sacrifices they will make to uphold her ideals. When the girls reach adulthood and begin to find their own destinies, Jean Brodie’s indelible imprint is a gift to some, and a curse to others." The Saturday Review calls this novel about a controversial teacher in the years leading up to WWII "beautifully constructed, extremely amusing, and deeply serious."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Bookshop
Carrie McClelland is an author looking for her next story when she ventures to Scotland. She settles near the ruins of Slains Castle to write, drawing inspiration from her own family history and the events of the Jacobite uprising. With parallel storylines in the 1700’s and present day, a romantic subplot, and paranormal elements, it’s no surprise that readers recommend Kearsley as an author worth binge reading. If you love The Winter Sea and want more, pick up the sequel, The Firebird.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop