Misc.

Burns Night – Books Set in Scotland

In honour of Burns Night, a Scottish holiday that celebrates the life of Scots poet Robert Burns, I thought I’d share a selection of books set in the beautiful country that is Scotland. So prepare your haggis wi tatties an neeps, pour out a wee dram, and settle down by the roaring fire with one of these reads…

Outlander & A History of Scotland

  • If you’ve been following the blog since 2015, you’ve probably heard me mention the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon more than once… I’m just a little bit obsessed! It follows Claire Randall, a combat nurse from 1945, who is in the Scottish Highlands on her honeymoon. Whilst out exploring the countryside, she somehow steps back through time, via a stone circle, and ends up in 1743. She gets caught up with the clans, the Jacobite Rebellion, one dastardly ancestor of her husband, and one very, very sexy be-kilted James Fraser. I’m slowly working my way through the whole series, but so far the first book has been my favourite, because we get to watch Claire and Jamie’s relationship grow.
  • If you fancy a bit of non-fiction instead, then A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver might do the trick. I bought this last year and haven’t yet read it, but I have read his A History of Ancient Britain, which was excellent and very accessible, whether you know your history or not.

Harry Potter & Macbeth

  • It might be forgotten at times, but the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is set in Scotland! Students take the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross all the way up north into Scotland. Hogwarts is supposedly located somewhere near Dufftown, in the Highlands, which interestingly is near the Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery… Although I’m pretty sure Hogwarts students are more interested in Butterbeer and Firewhiskey!
  • Of course, William Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth is set in Scotland. The ‘Scottish play’ tells of Macbeth, a Scottish general who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that he will become King of Scotland. Not wanting to delay his ascension to the throne, and also spurred on by Lady Macbeth, he murders King Duncan and takes the throne. His actions make him paranoid and guilt-ridden, and his reign is one of tyranny.

Trainspotting & The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

  • The infamous tale of heroin addicts, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is a 20th century classic. It is made up of short stories, all set in Leith, Edinburgh, and written in a mix of Scots, Scottish English and British English. Maybe not the thing to read if you’re looking for a nice, cosy read about Scotland… but a classic all the same.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is one of the author’s best known works, and is set in 1930s Edinburgh. Miss Brodie teaches a group of six girls, in subjects such as classical studies and art history. The book frequently flashes forward through time to show glimpses of the future, and reveals that one of Miss Brodie’s students will eventually betray her.

Kidnapped & Knots and Crosses

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louise Stevenson is a classic adventure story, about the orphaned David Balfour. After a trip to find his last living relative, Uncle Ebenezer, goes horribly wrong, David finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned on a ship. However, it is soon wrecked off the coast of Scotland, and David must make his way back across the Highlands. Kidnapped is set in the period after the Jacobite Rebellion, a very tumultuous period of Scotland’s history.
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin is the first of Rankin’s famous Inspector Rebus series, which follows Detective Sergeant John Rebus as he investigates grizzly crimes throughout Edinburgh. Like Trainspotting, this might not be the one to read just before going off on a weekend away to Edinburgh! 😉

Have you read any of these books? Can you suggest any other great reads set in Scotland?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: August 2015

monthlyru16

Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

readaug15

Last month I read a total of ten books: A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver, The Lola Quartet by Hilary St. John Mandel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S.J. Kincaid, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, The String Diaries (The String Diaries #1) by Stephen Lloyd Jones, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Warbreaker, Catalyst and We Need New Names were the stand out books for August. I was left disappointed by Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy and Landline – mostly they just did not work for me due to my age.

August was a funny month as I was internetless, so it was really difficult to do much for the blog. That will be changing now, however, as I finally have internet – and also Sci-Fi Month to prepare for! 😉

 

Challenge progress:

  • I have currently read 61 books towards my Goodreads goal – which was 50, and I had to raise to 75, hoping to raise it again before the end of the year!

 

Currently reading:

Twelve Kings
How was August for you?

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival: Days 3 – 5

Well… look who I had the pleasure of meeting on Sunday:

Christopher Eccleston! He was there to discuss Antigone, as he is starring in the new production directed by Polly Findlay. I joined the end of the queue (you know… to make sure no-one else joined as they only had a certain amount of time… yeah…) and grabbed an autograph from both of them, as well as a photo (or two)! I think the look on his face is because when I told him my name he looked confused and asked me to spell it – well that’s what I’m hoping…

I really didn’t know what to say to him though. I didn’t want to discuss Doctor Who because that’s not what he was there to talk about. I did tell Polly about my degree and interest in classics though, so at least I managed some sort of conversation!

That was the first exciting part of the day. The second was seeing (well catching a brief glimpse of, behind the crowds) Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series. Although I haven’t read the books for years, and only read the first few – I didn’t realise there were so many! – it was exciting seeing an author that I was a big fan of as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to grab a photo of him, as the tent was heaving, unsurprisingly.

I also spoke very briefly to Brooke Magnanti, author of Belle du Jour: the Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, as her publicist wanted to know where she needed to go for signings. Other interesting people who were at the festival on Sunday, but I didn’t manage to see include Neil Oliver, Paul Hollywood, various cast/crew members of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey, Rupert Everett and T.C. Boyle.

Mary Beard had a couple of events on Sunday but I was unable to attend them so I put aside a book for her to sign. Sadly I couldn’t get it dedicated, but I tweeted her and she replied, yay! I think she is the epitome of a classicist – eccentric and truly, truly passionate about what she does, and her recent TV series Meet the Romans with Mary Beard was great.

Monday was my day off, but looks to have been as exciting a day as any other – P.D. James, David Stuttard, Bel Mooney, Esther Rantzen, Orlando Figes, (‘what I call’) Patricia Hodge, Will Greenwood and Greg Searle, amongst others.

And that brings us to today – my shift started at 8am, which meant getting a bus at 6.20am; I am shattered! The hours go so quickly, I can barely believe I was working for seven and a half hours, and I only feel the tiredness on the journey back home. I’m working the same time tomorrow, so it’s another early night tonight… I managed to see Caroline Shenton, Head Parliamentary Archivist who has just written her first book, and the poet Simon Armitage, as well as Mark Hill (of Antiques Roadshow fame) and Judith Miller. This afternoon/evening’s guests include Clare Balding, Frankie Dettori, Emma Bridgewater, Kate Summerscale (which reminds me, I really need to read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher) and Sue Townsend, to name but a few.

I really can’t express just how much I’m loving this experience! I’ve never know a job to pass so quickly, I don’t really want it to end. I’ve met some great people, both famous, those I’m working with and customers, and I hope to meet many more before the week is up. Unless I write up another review before then, my next post will be on Friday evening, covering both Wednesday and Friday, as Thursday is my day off.