As a book lover, I take my travel reading seriously. Choosing the right books is an essential part of planning any trip, whether business or pleasure. I know my fellow book lovers know what I’m talking about.
Next week Will and I are going to Scotland. Our friends rented out this airbnb—the one with the bookshop, that you’ve been emailing me about for years—and invited us to come along. I’ve never been to Scotland, and so now I’m reading to learn about the place, to get in the mood.
Right now I’m reading to prepare. I have a travel guide or two on my current stack; those are easy to find. But I’ve had to dig a little to find atmospheric reads set in the places I’ll be visiting. I’ve revisited Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, set in Glasgow, and Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, set in a cottage by the water in Northern Scotland. I’ve read Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts, a middle-grade ghost story set in Edinburgh. I’m halfway through Catriona McPherson’s Quiet Neighbors, a bookish mystery set in Wigtown. It’s past time to read Shaun Bythell’s Diary of a Bookseller, his account of the first year he owned and operated The Bookshop in Wigtown. Finishing this one before I leave is a must.
I’m not the only traveler who prepares this way: on the What Should I Read Next? instagram account, we regularly help traveling readers find books about or set in the country or city they’re visiting. There’s nothing like visiting a place, and before we visit in person, we readers like to visit in the pages of our books. (Here’s one for Oxford, and here’s one for Italy.)
Then there’s the question of what I’ll read while I’m in Scotland. (And first, on the long flight.) My TBR stack holds dozens of atmospheric wintry reads, but I don’t want to pack any books to take along. (I want to save the suitcase space to bring new books back home with me!) I’ll make sure my Kindle is well-stocked for our travel days, and count on The Bookshop—with its 100,000 books—supplying the rest.
We won’t be abroad long, but if history repeats itself, I’ll continue my experience by reading travel books long after our return. A re-read of Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice is high on my list; I love it—and would love to read it in Scotland—but it’s too huge to lug across the ocean. (I discovered you can even take a Pilcher-approved tour of the book’s sites—can you imagine?)
How do you approach your own travel reading—before, during, and after? I’d love to hear about the trips you took (or are looking forward to) and the books you read because of them. Do you have any favorite books set in Scotland? Please share them in comments!